For many moons, I have been waiting in vain for a certain star to rise. Yes I should be grateful that lovely Mr. Apatow came back and resuscitated the profiles of Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and the other (lesser known) Freaks & Geeks boys after their years of comparitive obscurity, but you know what…it’s not enough. Yet now, just as all hope was lost and he was doomed to forever be known as “isn’t he Phoebe’s boyfriend from off of Friends”, Paul Rudd’s shiny friend is finally in the ascendant. He follows recent acclaim for Role Models with a brand new leading role this week. To mark the release of I Love You, Man I present to you my Quick Top Five Paul Rudd performances:
5. The Great Gatsby: I accept I’m a big blasphemer but I rather liked the remake of Gatsby, one of my treasured summer reads, (not least because Mia Farrow was nowhere near the thing) and one of the abiding reasons was Paul Rudd as Nick. His sparing and vulnerable performance is truly worth watching.
4. Clueless: Aside from being a genuinely funny high school satire, and clever update of Austen’s Emma, Clueless gives us socially aware, step-brother Josh – Alicia Silverstone’s just-this-side-of-incest-but-not-enough-to-be-kinky, sexy banter-buddy.
3. The Object of My Affection: One of Jennifer Aniston’s Friends hiatus projects, this romantic comedy is often overlooked but is actually a touching and intelligent look at the fine line between friendship and love. Paul Rudd is George, Aniston’s gay roommate, the pair unite over shared heartbreak and a longing to connect but have trouble breaking apart when the time comes to move on. (Ooo and he dances too!)
2. Knocked Up: In my (prejudiced) eyes Paul Rudd ran away with Judd Apatow’s gently funny look at the consequences of a one-night stand. I think this performance is close to tragic, and for me it stands out a mile.
1. The Shape of Things: On the surface, the big screen version of Neil LaBute’s play doesn’t appear to spit the same bile as his 1997 film In the Company of Men but, as the movie teaches us, not all is as it seems. The cast had previously appeared together in the Broadway production and their familiarity with the material gives the already compelling story an added depth. Rachel Weisz, as artist Evelyn, is a devious delight, but the veracity of Paul Rudd’s ugly-duckling-turned-heartthrob gives the story soul. A breathtaking (in the literal sense of the word) must see.
I had no trouble selecting this Top 5 as they are all beloved films from my own collection. However, I must beg your indulgence and include a bonus choice:
Dinner for Five (Season 2, episode 12): Paul appeared at Jon Favreau’s round table industry discussion show in 2001 alongside actor/director Peter Berg, Famke Janssen, Judd Apatow and Favreau himself. While not strictly a performance, this is a stand out episode in one of my favourite TV shows of all time and essential viewing for any movie fan. It also spookily is the show that reunites Janssen and Favreau after working together on Love and Sex, (one of my previous reviews) brings together Rudd and Apatow (credited above) AND is hosted by Jon Favreau who co-stars in I Love You, Man, making this piece appear seamlessly linked and really quite circle-of-lifey!