Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Just the Facts

By Susan Ellis

MARCH 8, 1999:  You can hardly blame Paul Rudd for being a little skimpy on the hard facts. The actor, who can currently be seen in the ensemble comedy 200 Cigarettes, admits to being somewhat publicity-shy, and given that this bit of information is gleaned during a conference-call interview — meaning six or so journalists are all vying to get their questions in — it’s tough for him to get a word in edgewise. It’s particularly tricky when the most aggressive of the interviewers is determined to nab the Paul Rudd/Minneapolis angle.

So for those of you dying to know: Rudd has a college friend in Minneapolis. He has played darts in Minneapolis, but he has never been to a play there. His first on-air job, the one that got him his SAG card, was a commercial for Miller Ultra Lite, a test-product that never took, but the ad — you guessed it — aired in Minneapolis.

Otherwise, we know that Rudd is 29, lives in New York, and spent his formative years in Kansas before going to the University of Kansas and then on to the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts. He is good-humored (“What are your impressions of Minneapolis?” “I’m sorry, I don’t do impressions”) and realized he might take a shot at this performing thing after hours of listening to Steve Martin comedy albums.

Sometime after that beer commercial, Rudd got his first movie role as Tommy Doyle in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers — a part, among others, he chalks up to earning his dues. “There are actually some people who dig Halloween 6,” he says.

Rudd’s most visible roles have been in William Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Clueless, and The Object of My Affection with Jennifer Aniston. As it stands, Rudd is by no means a huge star or even a tiny one, but he is recognizable and growing more so with each part (his next will be in The Cider House Rules, based on the John Irving novel).

With 200 Cigarettes, Rudd joins a half-dozen or so of Hollywood’s hippest established actors — Ben Affleck, Janeane Garofalo, Christina Ricci, to name a few — and a handful of up-and-comers such as Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn.

According to Rudd, the film, which is set on New Year’s Eve in 1981 in New York and follows a group of people on a serial hook-up spree before the dreaded midnight toll, didn’t provide him much of a chance to rub shoulders with his peers. “I didn’t get to work with about 90 percent of them,” he says. “ … I didn’t get to not only work with some of the actors, I didn’t get to meet some of the actors.”

One actor he did spend time with was Courtney Love, who plays his character’s longtime friend. Rather than being outright harrowing, Rudd says he found his co-star to be, well, “very sweet.” “I knew what everybody else knew,” he says. “I had seen her in interviews, but you can take out any little sound bites you want from those interviews and use them in any way you want. I really like her. I think she scares people by what she does, and sometimes with the press she can take a real flippant attitude.”

Rudd’s own attitude toward the press has been purposely standoffish. “I don’t actively promote myself,” he says. “There’s a very specific thing you can do to get into magazines and talk shows to support a movie. I much prefer to just sort of show up and do the job and not really have anybody know too much about me as a human being simply because it makes the roles a little less interesting.”

Throwing another wrench into the workings of the star machine is Rudd’s insistence on doing only what he wants to do. If that means a play’s run overlaps a film’s shooting schedule, he’ll skip the film. Having been in the Broadway run of The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which aired on PBS, Rudd says he’s torn between stage and screen. “They’re both very different experiences. … I do think a play is more difficult, but I do enjoy them both. I like doing them both. I would probably pick theatre; unfortunately, you just can’t make a living doing it.”

Having already finished shooting on The Cider House Rules, Rudd is now, though probably briefly, in a position where he doesn’t have to choose.

“I’m not working on anything,” he admits. But then he amends his answer. “Taking a break — yeah, that sounds better than unemployed.”


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