Paul Rudd Remembers His Surreal Night at the Chateau Marmont

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After reuniting with the May 2000 copy of Interview, in which he shared the cover with his pet goldfish, Paul Rudd, the ageless star of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and reigning Sexiest Man Alive, got on the phone with our executive editor to look back on that time in his life when anything seemed possible. 


PAUL RUDD: Hello? 

BEN BARNA: Hey, Paul. How’s it going? 

RUDD: How’s it going? I’m using AirPods. Do I sound okay? 

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BARNA: Yeah, I can hear you. I’m okay too? 

RUDD: Yeah. Sounds like you’re on speaker. 

BARNA: I’m using Skullcandy earbuds, that’s probably why. So I heard that you were on set today for your photoshoot, and you got to hold a May 2000 copy of Interview in your hands for the first time in a long time, and that you had a bit of a reaction to it. 

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RUDD: Well, normally I don’t love reading interviews that I’ve given. I don’t like revisiting that kind of stuff. But that was funny to read. I was like, “Oh yeah, I remember that young guy who’s trying hard not to try too hard.” 

BARNA: At one point, you ask Donal Logue, who interviewed you, “Do you think our humorous tone is going to come across in print, or are we just going to sound like a couple jack-offs talking about Shakespeare?” 

RUDD: [Laughs] Yeah. 

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BARNA: Is that a concern when you’re giving interviews in general? That something might get lost in print and you’re going to sound like a jack-off? 

RUDD: Well, yeah. I think it’s impossible to give any kind of interview, at least for me, without some kind of filter. I’m always thinking about, how does this sound? So it probably doesn’t make for very interesting reading. In that interview, Donal also said, “Do you think we should make it clear that we’re being facetious?” If somebody asked me that question now in an interview, I’d say, “Yes, absolutely.” 

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BARNA: You also said that at the time, you were out in Palm Desert writing scripts. Was that a thing you were doing back then? 

RUDD: Yeah. Nothing much came of any of them. I might have used lines and jokes that showed up later in other things. But on that trip I remember eating at a place called Bananaz with my friend Dan Etheridge. We ended up doing Party Down together. And we were probably drinking big tropical drinks in the Palm Desert. The whole thing was ridiculous. 

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BARNA: When you were on the cover of Interview in 2000, you had already been in Clueless, you had just been in The Cider House Rules, and a TV adaptation of The Great Gatsby was coming out. Since then, you’ve become a big movie star, you’re an Avenger, you’re in one of the biggest movies of the year, and you’re People’s Sexiest Man Alive, and yet, we’re putting you on the inside of this issue. How do you feel about that? 

RUDD: I think you got it right if you want to sell magazines. Keep me away from the cover. [Laughs] Look, I’m always flattered. It’s an honor to be in any of this stuff. 

BARNA: Was Interview your first cover? 

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RUDD: It might have been, I don’t really remember. I knew it was a big deal. I was at a dinner in L.A., and Ingrid Sischy [the former editor of Interview] was there, and she said, “We’re going to put you on the cover of Interview.” 

BARNA: Wow, just like that? These days there are dozens of emails with publicists before a cover is confirmed. 

RUDD: Yeah, I don’t even know how it worked out. It was a big dinner at the Chateau Marmont. Elizabeth Taylor was there, Elton John was there, so it was a bit of a one-two punch. I remember thinking, “What am I doing at this highfalutin dinner? And man, I was just told I was going to be on the cover of Interview magazine.” It was surreal. 

BARNA: Does it still feel surreal when you’re on the cover of a magazine? 

RUDD: I’ve gotten more used to it. It’s not such an unknown thing at this point in my life, but it still makes me laugh a bit and it seems ridiculous to me at times. I don’t take any of it seriously. 

BARNA: You don’t seem like a guy who would. 

RUDD: Yeah. There’s always people there saying, “Don’t take that picture.” I tend to do whatever the photographer asks. There have been many times where the publicist will say, “Yeah, maybe don’t do that.” I think I’ve tried to learn what not to do, because so many times there have been pictures taken and they’re insane. 

BARNA: What was life like for you in May of 2000? 

RUDD: I would tend to go between doing indie movies and plays. I was about 30 years old then, and I think all through my twenties, that was the goal. All actors wanted to be in really cool indie movies and then plays for credibility. That was a big deal. 

BARNA: So you weren’t dreaming of one day playing a superhero? 

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RUDD: No, I never would’ve guessed that was going to be in my future. The only thing I used to hope for at that time was, “Hey, by the time I’m in my fifties, it’d be pretty cool if I was still doing this.” I look back now at that time and think I really was learning about a lot of this stuff, like trying to learn how to do an interview. And judging by this one, I realize, “Well, you haven’t come that far, Paul.” I really have not gotten that part down. 

BARNA: Speaking of magazine covers, you were named People’s Sexiest Man Alive last year. How has your life changed since then? 

RUDD: My life hasn’t changed at all, but when that was announced, I certainly heard from more people than I’d heard from about almost anything, so that was strange. That was legitimately overwhelming, to a certain degree. 

BARNA: How did you find out? Did someone tell you at a dinner party at the Chateau? 

RUDD: [Laughs] In an email. That was so off of my radar, I never would’ve thought I was even in the running for something like that. I had to read it twice. I had to pose for certain shots, and they asked me to put my arm up for a couple pictures and I went, “Can I put my arm down? This looks ridiculous.” And of course that’s the shot they used. 

BARNA: You were also on New York magazine’s “Reasons to Love New York” cover with 71 other New Yorkers. Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? 

RUDD: I’ve lived in New York City for almost 30 years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life. And I moved around a lot. 

BARNA: What’s kept you here, and away from L.A.? 

RUDD: I knew as soon as I got out of school that I wanted to live here. I wanted to try and get into plays and pursue a career. The idea that I needed to be in L.A. was certainly what most people thought, and there were people that dissuaded me from living in New York, for sure. But I was happier here and thought, you know what? That counts for something. It might be harder to try and get work, but my personal happiness counts. Nobody’s bigger than this city, and that’s good for your head.  

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Special Thanks: Williamsburg Pizza