Spotlight By: Andrea Tuccillo
Paul Rudd‘s new comedy The Ten â€”which is being released on DVD January 15th – follows a group of characters in ten individual tales, each corresponding to one of the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Rudd plays the narrator, Jeff, who weaves each of these stories together, while also facing some moral dilemmas of his own when he gets tempted into adultery by the beautiful Jessica Alba. In real life, Rudd follows his own set of guidelines. He continues his string of top-notch work in comedic supporting roles yet manages to stay just on the cusp of bonafide leading man status. And that suits him just fine.
In The Ten, in which Rudd also received a producing credit, the main role of Jeff the narrator was one that he did not originally intend to play. “It’s a responsibility,” he says of essentially acting as the “glue” of the film. “The trick of making this movie is how do you make it a movie and not an episode of Saturday Night Live? There’s got to be some kind of cohesion to it so that it seems like you’re actually watching a movie. Besides the fact that there are characters and storylines that kind of bleed into one another and they show up in different commandments, one of the later additions was the role of a narrator. It was one that I was never going to play.”
But when Jessica Alba signed on to the film and had to shoot her scenes early, the film was in need of a Jeff and since Paul was a producer he accepted the part. Now, he says, he feels a bit guilty about doing so. “This is the thing that also makes me feel skeevy,” he says. “‘Cause I know you see this and it seems like I’m a producer on this movie, and I’m in it
He’s also a bit uncomfortable with his “over-exposure” as of late. If you’ve been following Rudd’s career you’ll notice that this year alone he has already appeared in the comedy hit Knocked Up and the smaller indie film Diggers
, in addition to The Ten. “I’d work on something for like a day or two with my friends who were making a movie and then they all came out this year and it’s annoying,” he says. “I know that if I wasn’t me I’d be so sick of me. I’m me and I’m kind of sick of me!”
The film’s unique Ten Commandments theme is one that Rudd sees as more of an outline for the structure of the film than an actual commentary on religion or morality. “I don’t think [writer/director] David [Wain] or [writer/actor] Ken [Marino] or any of the creative forces behind this movie thought the Ten Commandments was particularly absurd,” he says. “In fact I don’t think they wanted to have any comment on the Ten Commandmentsâ€¦The Ten Commandments was kind of a good template to use, but there is nothing that is really said about [them]. In fact in the end when we’re singing that it’s all about love, it’s completely unearned. There’s nothing in the film that says this is what it’s really all about which is intentional and ludicrous. I think it’s just the Ten Commandments because it seemed funnier than the Bill of Rights.”
In fact, perhaps that gives Rudd an idea for his next film. “It might be the Bill of Rights, that could be the sequel,” he jokes. “What else could we do? The Seven Wonders
It’s clear that Rudd has a knack for comedy, but pursuing that was never specifically one of his ambitions. “This has kind of been a strange trajectory for me,” he says. “I was always a big comedy fan but I never ever did sketch comedy, never studied improv, never did stand-upâ€”that was never my goal. I went to college and studied theater and I went to a theater conservatory and I live in New York because I wanted to do plays and still do plays and I loved dramatic films and I wanted to do everything. I still do want to go back and forth between all sorts of different things.”
As a fan of comedy, Rudd cites many influences. “I find many of the people that I’ve worked with to be incredibly funny,” he says. “Formative comedy figuresâ€”a major one that I think is the common thread with a lot of the people that I’ve worked with is Steve Martin. I think that we were all very much impacted by those comedy records that he put out in the ’70s. And I think another comic voice that does not get the props that he deserves, even though he gets props, is David Letterman. I like his whole sensibility and I think he has shaped a certain sense of irony and randomness in comedy that has affected all of us, certainly me.”
Although Rudd does hope to work on various different projectsâ€”whether it be comedic films, dramatic films, or heading back to the theater to do a playâ€”for now he is content right where he is. “I’m really kind of happy at this point in my life being able to work with these people that I’ve worked with repeatedly and I can’t imagine anything being more enjoyable because we are all friends and we all seem to laugh at
One thing he won’t be doing? Playing a superhero. “I don’t think I’d be a very good superhero,” he admits. “Maybe it would be Puzzle Man, like able to do crossword puzzles in under 7 minutes. And that would be the extent of my super-powerâ€¦ Scrabble Man!”
He takes a moment before coming up with another hilariously outlandish idea: “Jew Man! Able to light Shabbas candles on a single Friday!”
Hey, anything’s possible when you’re Paul Rudd.