Paul Rudd has always defined clean cut and wholesome. Not just the roles he plays but in the way he lives his life. Don’t expect a four letter utterance from Rudd. His English background precludes that.
And yet Rudd has made his reputation appearing in Judd Apatow movies. His latest, Marvel’s Ant-Man, however is unquestionably a family movie which should please the Disney studio no end.
Were you surprised to get the call to play a superhero?
It first happened because of Edgar Wright (original director for Ant-Man who left before the project started) who offered me the part. I had known Edgar, and then I met Marvel and they asked me if I wanted to do it, and I was thrilled because it was so different.
Meaning mega-budgeted with blockbuster expectations?
I think Marvel is pretty good at making films that have comedy in them and still allows them to focus on the drama. I knew that the action and the visuals were going to be completely unique and insane and fun. I was excited to do things that I had never done, such as green screen. And then there was the training for it which I was looking forward to; so it was a dream come true.
To play Ant-Man, you had to buff up. What was the training like?
It was pretty rigorous, but because I was being held accountable I made fitness and nutrition and training the focus of my day.
I would eat very specific foods at very specific times, and I worked with a trainer with weights, and I would do cardio on my own. I also worked with a gymnast to learn tumbling and flips, that kind of thing.
I enjoyed the routine and it made me feeI a lot less of an impostor. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in that suit if I wasn’t in shape. And waking up at 6.30 in the morning and feeling great, made it a lot easier. It started off a little tougher but once I got in the groove I liked it.
Are you still doing it?
Yeah, as much as I can. I’ve been doing it for about a year and a half. It’s probably impossible to sustain for life, but I try to stick with it as much as possible in case Marvel calls and says we need you for Captain America: Civil War (It’s been recently confirmed Ant-Man is going to appear in the film).
How did your family adjust to your regimen?
Over time, when my clothes started fitting differently, my wife would say, “Yeah the training is paying off”. One time she scratched my back and she said there’s no cushion – there’s usually a bit of a cushion – there’s no cushion now. So I thought all right, it’s working.
And as far as how supportive the kids were. We would go out to dinner, and they knew that I wasn’t going to eat anything; it was tough, we would be at a restaurant, and I would get a plate of asparagus and club soda, and I would have to try to explain it to the waiter …
Both Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios) and Peyton Reed (Ant-Man director) believe it is your innate qualities, and recommended you for the role. Is that who you really are?
Growing up in the Midwest, in Kansas City, might have something to do with that. People there tend to be more friendly; they are nice to one another, and there’s less stress there.
But my parents always raised me to treat people the way you would want to be treated and be polite. Sometimes when I get nervous or feel insecure, I have a tendency to overcompensate by becoming smiley and polite but essentially I am not a dark person, I think of myself as an optimist, and I try and live that way.
Looking back at your career, your first film Clueless established you as the It Boy, but then there was a downward spiral until Anchorman connected you to Judd Apatow and since then it’s been smooth sailing. So during those lean years, were you despondent? And how do you deal with adversity?
I have always felt the same about my craft, and this has never changed. I have always wanted to be a working actor and work on things that I like which I’d want to see.
In my 20s, I made it a point to do things that I could learn about acting from and try to get better. Before Clueless came out, I moved to New York because I wanted to do plays, knowing that plays are where you learn about the craft more so than from doing movies and television, which is a great place to learn some camera tricks.
So I had a very clear idea of what trajectory I wanted to take. And that never wavered. In the years when it might have seemed like my career was going nowhere, I never felt discouraged because during that time I was doing five different Broadway plays and I was doing independent films which maybe very few people saw, but I saw them and I knew what I was trying to learn, and I knew what kind of characters I wanted to play.
I have always wanted a career that was a bit of a slow burn. I wanted to be able to sustain it and I wanted to always have enough tools in my toolbox that I would be able to do that.
Doing Three Days Of Rain on Broadway a decade ago with Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper, how big was that in your career?
Bradley and I thought we had the best job on Broadway, just two guys in the Julia Roberts play. Nobody was paying any attention to us.
Bradley and I had worked together before, on his first movie, Wet Hot American Summer, and I remember when we were doing that play sitting around saying, “Could you ever imagine when we were in Wet Hot American Summer, that in a few years we would be on Broadway in a play with Julia Roberts?” It would have seemed unfathomable to us. But now since American Sniper, you can’t even get the guy on the phone.
You have two kids – Darby and Jack. How are you adapting?
They’re the best part of my life. I am so close to them; my daughter is five and my son is 10, but they have never seen anything I have ever done.
Ant-Man will be the first thing that my son will see but my daughter is a little too young. I have always made a point that they know what I do, but that I have a home life where I am their dad, and this is my job.
My son is legitimately excited to see Ant-Man. Before this he’s never asked, “Can I come to the premiere or can I see it?” But he asked this time. We were at Disneyland a couple of days ago, they had this sneak preview, and we went in to watch it. It was amazing to see it in 3D for the first time, but I kept looking over at him. And as soon as it ended, he took his glasses off and went, “That’s awesome!” And in that moment, as a dad to see that kind of enthusiasm from my own son, that is the greatest thing, the greatest feeling.
What do you like to do with them?
My son is getting into sports over the last few years; he loved football, and now he’s really gotten into soccer. So, last night I got home, and we got outside and kicked a soccer ball for a while.
My daughter is five, and we sit on the floor and play a card game called rat-at-at-cat, where she brings out princesses and a doll house and we do that.