I don’t remember the first time I met Paul Rudd, but I do remember seeing him make my sister cry in a deleted scene fromThe 40-Year-Old Virgin in which he can’t turn off a toy robot which terrified tiny Iris. He was playing a scene. Iris was actually crying.
Paul Rudd is a great actor. He has also been a great pretend dad to me in the movies Knocked Up and the upcoming This Is Forty. I loved chatting with him about his Bar Mitzvah, his career and his new movie Wanderlust.
I asked him a lot about his childhood because I don’t think anyone really knows much about what Paul Rudd was like as a kid. I also thought it was unfair that he knows a lot about me as a 14-year-old but I know anything about him as a 14-year-old.
This was an important interview for me because I finally worked up the courage to ask follow up questions. It was easier with Paul because I know him personally. I did not know the band One Direction personally when I interviewed them. I still don’t. I am not happy about that. I have not heard from them since the interview. What is that about?
Here is my interview with Paul Rudd.
Hello, Maude! Thank you for spending this time with me today and thank you to HelloGiggles!
Thank you! Okay, what is some advice you wish someone told you when you were a kid or a teenager?
That’s a great question. You know, people said it to me and I even thought it’s probably good advice, but it’s really true and that is enjoy your youth and don’t take things too seriously. Always remember, even though a situation might seem like it’s the end of the world, it’s not. It really is true that you will be okay and look back on things and laugh. You don’t need to sweat it – whatever it is – that much.
That’s really good. Because you know, I really do take things too seriously right now.
I know, it’s very sweet and I adore you. That’s why I want to grab you and say, ‘It’s okay, Maude. It’s okay.’
Okay, what were you like as a 14-year-old?
Uh, that was around the time I started to go through puberty and my hair went crazy curly, and I had zits and glasses. Uh, but not cool glasses. They were almost kind of like sunglasses but like a bad frame of sunglasses with clear lenses. I have pictures that I could send you that you would be horrified and you would laugh your head off. Fourteen was tough for me.
Were you a nerd?
Yeah, I didn’t think that I was but I probably was. I really prided myself on my fashionable dress. I had a very independent streak and thought, I’m going to dress super cool and different than everybody else and everybody is going to be envious of my cool clothes. But looking back, I realize that nobody was envious and I’m sure they were laughing. I really prided myself when I was in eighth grade for not owning a pair of jeans, and I never wore jeans for a year and a half. I wore a tie to school every day, although I didn’t have to. But then I started moving into kind of like new wave kind of style and was really into thin ties and really baggy pants. And I remember when that movie Pretty In Pink came out, some people in my school said you totally remind me of that guy, Ducky. And I thought that was a compliment.
Okay, what was your Bar Mitzvah like?
Well I didn’t speak or really read Hebrew. I bailed on Hebrew school early on. So I kind of memorized my Bar Mitzvah piece and then the day before I had to do it, I totally panicked and started to project and then I wound up doing okay during the actual piece and had some phonetically written out in case I lost my place. But I just wanted to get through it and go back to my grandmother’s house for kugel.
Did you have a big party and a Bar Mitzvah theme?
No, it’s so weird the idea of it, because I grew up in a place where I didn’t go to any Bar Mitzvahs because I wasn’t in a very Jewish neighborhood. And I really didn’t have friends that were Jewish. So it wasn’t like what you experience in Los Angeles, or what thirteen year old kids here in New York City experience where there’s lots of Jewish kids. There’s a Bar Mitzvah circuit. I didn’t have any of that so it wasn’t even until I was an adult that I even realized that people had big, extravagant Bar or Bat Mitzvah receptions. Mine was, I literally went back to my grandmother’s house and she cooked. And there was no entertainment. There was no theme to it. I mean I have since been to Bar Mitzvahs where it’s like the theme would be Transformers or Indiana Jones, or some sport’s theme. The theme to my Bar Mitzvah was pinstripe suits and relatives that had a lot of phlegm in their throats.
That is so gross.
It’s so true. It’s like congratulations, Paul. You were wonderful up there [phlegm noice].
And no friends were there?
I had no friends there. I had a bunch of cousins. There were very few children.
All of the Bar Mitzvahs I went to had like Transformers theme and airplanes.
Yeah, and I didn’t have any of that. I didn’t even know that was an option. I never heard of anything like that. Mine was a low key affair that was really like, you know, just the house smelled like fish. And people were milling around and occasionally handing me an envelope.
Are your kids going to get Bar and Bat Mitzvah’d?
You know, Jack Is 7 and Darby is 2, so we haven’t really had that conversation. We’re not particularly religious, but I think that we probably would because you know, I had that, and it would be nice. I think it’s kind of like, you do it for the relatives.
Would it be better than yours was?
I think, yeah. Because Jack has been to a couple of friends’ of ours Bar Mitzvahs and like when he was four, he was just so psyched. It was like a fun party. So I think he’s fully anticipating having one, but I don’t think he realizes that he has to do anything.
It’s hard. All of my friends were so stressed out and it was just, it seemed like so much.
It’s really stressful. It’s super stressful. I was really freaked out about chanting and singing. I just got really monotoned and didn’t even go “oh la la”. I just read it.
Who were your female influences growing up?
Well, you know my mom and my sister because they were closest to me, my grandmother and the females in my life. Apart from my family, I had a couple of great teachers in school and the best ones I’ve ever had were women. I had a teacher in 8th grade named Mrs. Sanders, who was amazing. I had a teacher in high school, Mrs. Shipley, who encouraged performing and that was her thing, and she was great. One of the best teachers that I ever had. So really it was a few teachers.
And did you have any favorite female comedians or actresses then?
When it came to it, I used to like watching the Carol Burnett Show. I thought Carol Burnett was very funny. And I liked Madeline Kahn a lot because in my house we were watching a lot of Mel Brooks movies and she was always in them and super funny. And Gilda Radner. I used to like watching Saturday Night Live. I always thought that she was hilarious.
Okay, what should my friends tell their parents to convince them to take them to see Wanderlust this weekend?
Wow, well it’s got a sweet message, but it depends on the parent because it’s not really, I mean let’s be honest—
We’re not talking about you know, The Lorax here. I know it’s pretty bawdy. So I don’t know. I can’t wait to see the parents, but I would not want to make a suggestion on the chance that some kid took my advice, went to their parents, got permission, went to see it, and the parents realize what it’s about and then they trace it back to me and then I’m embroiled in some legal battle.
So you don’t suggest that young children see Wanderlust?
I don’t. I wouldn’t know what to say. As a parent myself, I get a little skittish.
Well, I think that’s it.
I’ve really enjoyed our interview. I hope we can do it again when later on maybe, even in a year when you and I are playing father and daughter. I’ll really give my answers some serious thought and maybe by December I’ll have an idea of what I can tell kids to tell their parents to take them to go see Wanderlust… Probably.