When it comes to superheroes, “Ant-Man” ain’t “Spider Man” but the new film’s leading man, Paul Rudd, is no pitzkeleh.
The actor, comedian, writer and producer starring in the Marvel Studios feature film is already generating plenty of buzz before his latest movie premieres July 17.
In a recent magazine take-out, The New York Times dubbed “His Ruddness” a unique performer. “The main thing about Rudd is not that he is likable but that he is funny, and that his particular flavor of funniness is something no other actor possesses at the moment.”
This 46-year-old NJB (nice Jewish boy) is a husband and father of two living in Manhattan who grew up as many fictional superheroes do: as an outsider.
The Jersey-born son of British parents spent his childhood in Kansas, a lone Jew among his childhood posse. Rudd turned to humor as a way to fit in among non-Jewish classmates. These many years later, the self-mocking dancing machine’s good natured charm, good looks and unbridaled lip syncing abilities have won over legions of fans, colleagues and reporters, as evidenced in this recent article in The Guardian.
“I was always in new schools and had British parents, which was not the norm, and I think there was also… I’m not particularly religious, but I was born Jewish and I always felt like the outsider because I wasn’t Christian or Catholic,” Rudd recently told The Guardian.
“So I learned early on that I could be accepted if I made people laugh when I turned the joke on myself and, particularly in Kansas, if I made a joke about being Jewish, my friends would laugh really hard, harder than they perhaps should have,” said Rudd.
In the Guardian piece, “Mr. Perfect,” the superlative coined by comedian Amy Poehler, also opens up to reveal the untarnished demeanor he briefly portrayed in the smash TV sit-com “Friends” is more truth than fiction.
“I mainly hung out in the background and talked to Gunther,” he said, referring to the barista who became a low-key mainstay of the show. “It was amazing but kind of like being the Jew with English parents in Kansas – that’s the way I felt on ‘Friends.’ I just didn’t want to get in the way.”
It’s been a long road from Rudd’s selling Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems in 1991 to the hits, “Anchor Man,” “I Love You Man” and the upcoming “Ant-Man.”
In the new action flick, Rudd portrays a recovering criminal with a quick sense of humor. Hired by a brilliant scientist played by Michael Douglas, Rudd’s job is to prevent an evil-doer from capitalizing on cutting-edge know-how that turns tall into small.
Marvel Studios’s online shop, which is already marketing plenty of movie-themed merchandise, has put a cap of two per customer on sales of the $24.95 Rudd-inspired seven-inch Ant-Man action figure. It seems that the studio is betting Rudd has the makings of Batman, Superman and every other leading man at the box office, and those are more than ant-sized shoes to fill.