Paul Rudd talks to Harry Smith about his new film "Role Models" and about hosting "Saturday Night Live."
A few weeks ago Paul Rudd was in Chicago promoting his new comedy, "Role Models." Minutes before our interview, he had to cancel. Family emergency. A few days later, news came that his father had died. Despite the circumstances, Rudd was nice enough to chat with me by phone this week from his home in New York City. "Please don't feel crummy," he said when I asked about forging ahead with the interview. "For God's sakes, I just did 'TRL.' " Enough said.
Co-starring Rudd and Seann William Scott ("American Pie"), "Role Models" follows the antics of a couple of emotionally stunted pals who—after a minor run-in with the law—are mandated by the court to enroll in a Big Brother-type mentoring program. The film also stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse (best known as McLovin in "Superbad") as Rudd's geeky mentee. It fits the bro-mantic comedy mold—potty mouth, tender heart—though technically this is not a Judd Apatow movie. But actors from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" are all over this thing: Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Elizabeth Banks. And of course, Rudd, who is the bridge between the cinematic worlds of Apatow and The State, the sketch comedy group behind such films as "Wet Hot American Summer" and "The Ten," both featuring Rudd and directed by David Wain, who also directs here. (Rudd and Wain helped write the screenplay, as well.) The incestuousness was inevitable, Rudd said. "There's a lot of cross-breeding going on. Like I know Jonah [Hill] did a 'Wainy Days' episode [Wain's Web series], so did Chris Mintz-Plasse. Everyone kind of knows each other a little bit." Scott, talking from a press stop in Denver, told me: "Everybody seemed to know each other, and I kinda felt like the new kid in school." The "Role Models" stars answered a few questions about their movie and themselves.
What makes Paul Rudd laugh: "True authentic curmudgeons always amused me. Like, smart people who hate everything. I just think that's hilarious. However, I'm not really like that. I'm not a glass-is-half-empty kind of person. I mean, I can be at times."
Rudd's abundant chest hair and the chance to dress like Kiss for the movie's finale: "I loved Kiss as a kid, but I must say I wasn't so sold on the Kiss idea. I remember being like, 'Are you sure you want to have the whole end of the movie where we're all in makeup?' But there was never any question who would play who. Clearly I have the most amount of chest hair, which automatically made me Paul Stanley."
In addition to what he called "gross leather pants" for the Kiss scenes, Seann William Scott also dons a mascot costume: "Horrible! That literally felt like I was a glorified clown. It was so hot and gross. I felt like the biggest [jerk] on the planet and just kept saying, 'Guys, I hope it's funny.' And they're like, 'It's funny.' And I'm like, 'Funny cool or funny ridiculous? Like, am I not going to be able to get dates after this?' They were like, 'Funny ridiculous.' I'm like, 'Great. Thanks.'
Rudd, on being recognized: "If anything, people will ask me how Phoebe is ["Friends"] or how Alicia Silverstone is ["Clueless"]. On occasion they'll ask me how I know I'm gay ["The 40-Year-Old Virgin"]. Sometimes people will say, 'Yo, Brian Fantana!' ["Anchorman"], but not much. More often than not they'll say, 'Yo man, you wearing your Sex Panther?' "
Scott, on being recognized: "I think about Christopher Mintz-Plasse. I mean, I'll never forget he came up to me and he said, 'Did it bother you when people called you Stifler when "American Pie" first came out?' And I was like, 'Nah, it's a huge compliment—it means you did a good job.' And he's like: 'It's kind of weird people coming up and calling me McLovin, but truth is, I was in Santa Barbara at this college and these two girls hooked up with me—and I know they wouldn't have done that if I hadn't played McLovin.' I was like, 'There you go, Chris! So don't worry about it.' You can just see him going, 'I can't wait to do more movies cuz I'll get more dates.' "
During interviews, Rudd tends to be either incredibly well-mannered—or he's pulling down his pants and making out with a squirrel puppet in the back seat of a cab with Joe Buck (youtube.com/watch?v=LF5wNeasqyU): "Right. Well, Joe and I have known each other for a long time and it just seemed like, at a certain point—that was just cheap whoring that I was doing trying to get a laugh, which constitutes half of my career. Look, right now, this is a classy publication—I'm keeping my pants on. But if you and I were doing a Web show, all bets are off."
Congratulations Paul! You'll always be #1 in my <3.
**So who saw the movie?? Did you like it? Y/N?? Discuss.