MOTW: Paul Rudd - The Late Start Funny Man

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
September 13th, 2013

MOTW: Paul Rudd - The Late Start Funny Man

Paul Rudd wasn't always a box office hit in America's funniest films. In fact, he didn't break into the film industry until 1995 with his role in "Clueless" that starred Alicia Silverstone and Brittany Murphy. Rudd, a native of Passaic, New Jersey, started life out in the Midwest before making a name for himself in the entertainment industry. His original family surname is Rudnitzky, but his grandfather changed it to Rudd.

Paul Rudd was born to Michael and Gloria Rudd, two Jewish immigrants who lived in London, England until Michael's work forced a move to the United States. Rudd's father worked as a historical tour guide after previously working for Trans World Airlines. Rudd underwent a bar mitzvah ceremony to celebrate his thirteenth birthday, as the Jewish religion remained strong in his family. When Paul was ten years old, the family moved to Overland, Kansas, where he spent much of his childhood. During his formative years, his family spent three years in Anaheim, California, due to his father's work.

Paul Rudd is well educated. He completed his high school education at Shawnee Mission West and went on to complete his undergraduate degree in theater at the University of Kansas. He was an active member of the Nu Chapter of Sigma Nu. During his time at the university, he was awarded the Spencer Tracy Scholarship for excellent marks in his honor courses. This allowed him to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. He went on to study Jacobean drama at Oxford University's Drama Academy for three months. For most of his education, he supported himself financially by working as a DJ.

While Rudd has played numerous roles on television such as in the television series "Sisters" and "Wild Oats," most people remember him for his role as the character Cher's older stepbrother in the 1995 classic "Clueless." His other early film roles include, "Cider House Rules," "The Object of My Affection," and "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet."

Rudd married Julie Yaeger in 2003. They now have two children, Jack Sullivan and Darby. The couple travel back and forth between Manhattan, New York, and his childhood town Overland, Kansas.

Rudd became a household comedy name after starring in an array of Judd Apatow films, particularly his roles in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." His hilarious wit and ability to deliver deadpan comedy gave him a coveted spot in the Apatow cohort. In 2007, he played opposite Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up," as Pete, a frustrated husband. Since then he has starred in four films with Rogen, three films with Kristen Wiig, three films with Leslie Mann, four films with Steve Carell, and five films with Elizabeth Banks.

Rudd made several other films that helped him secure his position as one of America's funny men, notably his roles in "The Ex," "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Role Models," "I Love You Man," "Our Idiot Brother," "Admission," "Bridesmaids," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "This Is the End," "This Is 40," and the upcoming sequel, "Anchorman: The Legend Continues." Nearly every film that Paul Rudd has appeared in has become a blockbuster success due to the overwhelming amount of outstanding talent in each film. Furthermore, the actor is diversifying his movie skills through writing, directing and producing. He helped write the film, "Role Models," in which he starred opposite Seann William Scott as an energy sales representative. He produced "The Ten," a movie flop, and "Wanderlust."

Rudd is known for his running gag in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" with Seth Rogen. They rally back and forth in a competition of, "You know how I know you're gay," which ultimately results in a multitude of hilarious reasons. The running gag is constantly referred to on "Saturday Night Live" and many other late-night talk shows.

While Rudd is a phenomenal comedic actor, he has often told journalists that he lives for theater. Rudd has performed in five notable productions: "The Last Night of Ballyhoo," "Twelfth Night," "The Shape of Things," "Three Days of Rain," and "Grace." Rudd continues to put himself into challenging roles on stage that awe and inspire the audience.

Currently, Rudd is completing the movie, "They Came Together," in which he plays Joel, a corporate honcho attempting to take away a local shop owner's store. The romantic comedy also stars Amy Poehler as the local shop owner, and the love interest that sparks the majority of the movie's plot.