Paul Rudd: Gross Points

AT FIRST GLANCE, KANSAS-REARED PAUL RUDD looks like a thousand other Midwestern dudes lured to Hollywood for a shot at heartthrob-dom: chiseled features, pale, piercing eyes, confident grin. The difference? Well, the guy can really act.

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In Clueless, he was the Nietzsche-reading stepbrother/college boy who observed, with bemused fascination, as Alicia Silverstone and her cohorts slung their ditzy patois and adolescent schemes. In Baz Luhrmann's hyperkinetic Romeo & Juliet, where visual fireworks far exceeded the excitement generated by anyone's rendering of Shakespeare's dialogue, Rudd stood out with his glib, preppy Paris, for which he seemed to , be slyly channeling JFK Jr. Did Rudd's fine work in these two hits boost his career? "Nah . . . well, it is a lot easier to get drugs now," he deadpans. Rudd, who once did a scene from Hamlet under Ben Kingsley's direction while studying at the British Drama Academy, is refreshingly low-key about his craft. "It wasn't like, I saw Pippin at the age of five and knew it's what I had to do, like, I'm born to the stage--the theater, a fickle bitch, but I love her!'" In his latest movie, The Object of My Affection, a romantic comedy with a script by Pulitzer-winning Wendy Wasserstein, Rudd plays the gay roommate Jennifer Aniston asks to coparent her child when she gets pregnant and dumps her beau. "It's a very complex film," insists Rudd. "How important is sex? If two people love each other, why can't they make it work? It's full of honest, painful emotions." Meanwhile, Rudd has left L.A., for k New York, where he made his Broadway debut last year in Tony-winner Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo. "Acting there, you feel you're part of a noble tradition. Whereas in L.A., anything having to do with the entertainment industry gets a bad rap. And it is kind of gross."

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Joshua Mooney



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