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Paul Rudd is a Comedic Actor who has Audiences Saying “I Love You, Man”

August 22, 2011

By John C.

Over the past several years, Paul Rudd has made a name for himself as a memorable addition to the cast of numerous ensemble comedies.  You’ve likely seen one of his films and he’s becoming more well-known all the time, quickly emerging as one of my favourite modern comedic actors.  But so far there have only been a handful of movies where he has headlined the poster and played the lead.  He’s usually in the background as the appealing friend of the main character.

The first time I remember seeing him in a movie was when the 1996 high school comedy Clueless played on TV, and since then have seen him in many comedies over the years.  Audiences can get another fix of his genuine comedic charms when the appealingly quirky comedy Our Idiot Brother opens in theatres this Friday.  Despite his character Ned’s long hair, the persona is vintage Paul Rudd.  Next up, he’ll star alongside Jennifer Aniston in Wanderlust this October.

Who can forget his performance in The 40 Year Old Virgin, particularly his antics with a video camera attached to a long line of big screen TVs?  The 2005 comedy was Judd Apatow’s first film as a director, solidly offering a flat-out hilarious and even heartfelt portrait of a nerd, Andy (Steve Carrell), trying to find true love for the first time.  Rudd played one of Andy’s friends and had what is perhaps the first memorable catchphrase of his career – which is full of quotable quotes – with the seemingly stupid question “do you know how I know you’re gay?”

The main action of Knocked Up obviously concerned itself with the story of slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) who accidentally impregnated a one night stand, Alison (Katherine Heigl).  The story was handled with raunchy humour and heart, but some of the most memorable scenes in the movie came from Rudd’s performance as Alison’s brother-in-law, Pete.  For me, one of the most honest scenes in the film came when his wife (Leslie Mann) chastised him for not telling her where he was going.  His answer was that he just needed a little time to himself.  If you don’t remember his performance, than you should seriously consider revisiting the film.  He will be reprising the role in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up spin-off, This is Forty, which opens next summer.

Later in 2007, he continued his career as a comedic supporting player, with a small role in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.  A fake musical bio-pic of the fictitious Dewey Cox (John C. Reily), Paul Rudd delivered one of the funniest scenes in the film with his brief performance as John Lennon.  Right through to his Liverpool accent, it remains the most hilarious portrayal of the famed musician. In 2008, Rudd was also a memorable addition to the cast of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  But until this point, he was only being given side roles as part of an ensemble cast in some pretty big films.  Perhaps the fact that he wasn’t constantly being cast as the lead is part of what has kept him such an appealingly fresh comic actor over the years.

The first time he played the lead was when he teamed up with Seann William-Scott for the very funny Role Models in 2008.  In 2009, he starred alongside Jason Segal in I Love You, Man.  The film was a hilarious showcase of both their talents, but was made all the funnier because of an honest script that delved into the complexities of male friendship with a solid head on its shoulders.  The mere mention of Rudd’s occasional use of a fake Jamaican accent as well as his utterance of the now-famous line “slappa de bass, mon” will send anyone who’s seen the film into a fit of laughter.  If you’ve seen Paul Rudd in a comedy, than chances are you’ve also quoted at least one of his lines.

Even in less overtly comedic roles, Paul Rudd has proven himself as one of the most likeable modern actors of his type.  His charming performance and the way that he was able to play off of the other actors was one of the reasons why last year’s fairly conventional How Do You Know was worth seeing.  For the past several years, Paul Rudd has been the sort of actor that audiences may not initially recognize by name, but are almost guaranteed to have seen in at least one memorable role.  After this weekend, I have a strong feeling that people will start to recognize him for another one of his appealing characters, as he plays the title sibling in Our Idiot Brother.

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