Paul Rudd (born April 6, 1969) is an American actor. He was
born to Jewish immigrants from England in Passaic, New Jersey and raised
in Lenexa, Kansas. He attended the University of Kansas.
His credits include Clueless, Wet Hot American Summer, The Cider House Rules, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Romeo and Juliet, Friends (in the recurring role of Mike Hannigan, who married Phoebe Buffay in 2004), and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
A disarming smile and effortless charm have helped actor Paul Rudd make
his name on the stage and screen as well as to cultivate an avid following
as a sensitive beefcake. Born in New Jersey to British parents, he studied
theater at the University of Kansas before attending Pasadena's American
Academy of Dramatic Arts on a Spencer Tracy Scholarship. He also spent a
semester at Oxford's British Drama Academy, where he appeared as "Hamlet" in
scenes directed by Ben Kingsley. While in England, he also co-produced the
Globe Theatre's production of Howard Brenton's "Bloody Poetry", in which he
starred as Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Returning to the USA in the early 1990s, he began his career billed as Paul Stephen Rudd to avoid confusion with stage and TV actor Paul Rudd (born 1940), receiving great exposure with his first role as an aspiring filmmaker married to Reed Halsey (Ashley Judd, later Noelle Parker) on the NBC series "Sisters", a role he played from 1992 to 1995. He also began appearing in longforms, including the CBS miniseries "The Fire Next Time" (1993), the drama "Moment of Truth: Stalking Back" (NBC, 1993) and Joe Dante's "Runaway Daughters" segment of Showtime's "Rebel Highway" (1994). Displaying his comic skills, Rudd co-starred as a genial Chicago social worker opposite Tim Conlan as his raunchy photographer roommate in the short-lived twentysomethings sitcom "Wild Oats" (Fox, 1994).
Paul Rudd broke through in Amy Heckerling's hit comedy "Clueless" (1995), playing Alicia Silverstone's serious, college-aged know-it-all stepbrother and would-be love interest. As this anchor amid the giggly schoolgirls, he began to ignite the fantasies of boy-next-door seekers everywhere. That year, he was also the protagonist in the less impressive "Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers". (This was actually his first screen role, but the finished film debuted after "Clueless".) The following year, he played a jazzed-up Paris (renamed 'Dave Paris') in Baz Luhrmann's updated, rock 'n' roll version of "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" and a goofy aspiring filmmaker in the comedy "The Size of Watermelons" (shown at Cannes). He followed with a supporting role in the period drama "The Locusts", which reunited him with Ashley Judd, then played a young man attempting to retrieve a Dear Jane letter in the middling comedy "Overnight Delivery" (both 1997).
Paul Rudd continued turning heads as a gay man involved with an unwed mother (Jennifer Aniston) in Nicholas Hytner's "The Object of My Affection" (1998). Despite the vanilla aspects attending a contrived romance doomed by its players' inherently different instinctual drives, Rudd's intelligent portrayal elevated his nice-guy role above what playwright-screenwriter Wendy Wasserstein had provided for him. Having made his Broadway debut in Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" (1997), he initially balked at leaving its cast to make "Affection" but returned after shooting completed to resume his part as the suitor to a dissenting member of a Jewish family trying to assimilate in Atlanta in the 1930s. The following year saw him reteam with Hytner, this time on the Great White Way, as the lovesick Orsino, spouting the Bard's most poetic lines from "Twelfth Night" alongside Helen Hunt.
After sporting long, pointed sideburns for his role as a recently jilted lover in "200 Cigarettes", Paul Rudd returned to the stage opposite Calista Flockhart in "Bash", a trio of one-acts by Neil LaBute. In the evening's final segment, he and Flockhart portrayed Mormon college students visiting NYC with Rudd, playing off his boyish charm, delivered a chilling description of his character's participation in a brutal attack on two gay men. (He went on to reprise the role in L.A. and London.) Moving back to the big screen, he co-starred as WWII pilot Wally Worthington in Lasse Hallstrom's "The Cider House Rules" (both 1999), the first of John Irving's novels adapted by the writer himself. Unfortunately, the streamlined film narrative reduced the part dramatically from its prose origins and left Rudd with little to do. There was no reducing his next roles, however. Rudd starred opposite Andie MacDowell in "Reaching Normal" (Showtime, 2000), written and directed by Anne Heche, and traded on his preppy looks to embody F Scott Fitzgerald narrator Nick Carraway in the 2001 A&E adaptation of "The Great Gatsby". A deft turn in the uneven but oft-hilarious comedy "Wet Hot American Summer" (2001) set the stage for one of Rudd's more memorable (and visible) roles when he landed the plumb part of Mike Hannigan, Phoebe's straight-laced and level-headed beau, on the hit sitcom "Friends" from 2002-2004. Another key Rudd performance couldn't have been further from the "Friends" world: Neil La Bute's "The Shape of Things" (2003), another of the auteur's sharp-edged, harsh looks at the battles of the s--es in which Rudd played a young man who seemingly makes himself over radically after becoming involved with a mysterious beauty (Rachel Weisz). He then reversed course and took a role opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy" (2004), the most effective demonstration of his comedic skills to date, playing a misogynist expose reporter in 1970s era San Diego who bolsters news anchor Burgandy's (Ferrell) attempts to freeze out their station's first female on-air reporter (Christina Applegate).
increasingly deft comic abilities landed him in another major hit comedy
"The 40 Year-Old Virgin" (2005), written and directed by "Anchorman's
producer Judd Apatow and starring Steve Carell, Rudd's co-supporting player
in the earlier film. Rudd played one of the supportive, if sometimes
misguided, co-workers trying to help Carell's character find ways to relieve
himself of his virginity while descending into the depths of depression
himself because he can't get over a short-lived romance.
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