Paul Rudd: from KC suburbs to Marvel superhero

Paul Rudd in ‘The Catcher Was A Spy’

By Nate Bloom, Special to the Jewish Light

Focus on Paul Rudd

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” features Marvel heroes with the incredible ability to shrink. PAUL RUDD, 49, who starred in the hit 2015 film, “Ant-Man,” reprises that title role in this film. Evangeline Lily, who had a co-starring role as the Wasp in the 2015 film, returns for the sequel. The plot has Ant-Man (AKA Scott Lang) torn between his new role as a husband and father and the call of duty when the Wasp says she really, really needs his help. (The film opens locally on July 5).

 MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 73, also reprises his role as Hank Pym, an entomologist who was the original Ant-Man back in the ’60s. He passed the baton, as it were, to Scott Lang. Parental note: The “Ant Man” films are lighter and more family friendly than most Marvel pics.

 Rudd’s breakthrough role came in the 1995 mega-hit “Clueless.” He played ALICIA SILVERSTONE’s charming stepbrother who, by movie’s end, morphs into her boyfriend. Many have said that Rudd doesn’t seem to have aged since “Clueless.” That’s not true, but he does look remarkably youthful. I first knew Rudd was a mensch when a friend, who then wrote for an Orthodox blog, happened on Rudd and RACHEL WEISZ, now 48, sitting at a New York sidewalk café. They were in New York promoting their 2003 movie, “The Shape of Things.” My friend asked Weisz about being Jewish and she was standoffish. But Rudd plunged in and said, “Jewish. I love to talk about Jewish.”

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 Rudd’s parents were born and raised in England, the descendants of Eastern European Jews. His father’s airline job meant that Paul and his sister, Mandy, were frequently uprooted. Paul was born in New Jersey, and spent what he calls his “formative years,” ages 10-20, in Overland Park, Kan., in the Kansas City suburbs. He told “CBS Sunday Morning,” “I learned early on that being funny helped me [fit in]…certainly in Kansas being Jewish was an anomaly and I always felt a little on the periphery.”  Still, his home life was very happy and Paul had a big bar mitzvah in Ontario, Canada, where a lot of relatives lived.

 Rudd, who worked as a bar mitzvah D.J, in Los Angeles as he looked for his first good parts, has gradually moved up the stardom ladder. He first made his mark in comedy hits. A partial list: “Clueless,” a recurring big role on TV’s “Friends,” “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “I Love You Man.”

 He found time to court and marry (2003) his wife, JULIE YAEGAR, now 48. Yaegar, whose mother is Jewish, wed Rudd before a rabbi. They have two children (JACK, 13, and DARBY, 8).

 Do watch online the “Sunday Morning” profile (first aired on June 17) entitled “Paul Rudd, the tiny superhero with a big heart.” (Google the title). 

The profile covers his comedy hits and his surprising success as an action hero. It also focuses on “The Big Slick,” an annual weekend of fund raising to benefit Kansas City’s Mercy Hospital. Rudd co-founded the benefit, and his sister helps run it. (His mother and sister, who still live in the area, are briefly interviewed). 

Rudd describes how his action role has brought him closer to the kids he visits in the hospital. Prior to “Ant-Man,” they were polite but really didn’t know who he was. Now they are thrilled to have “Ant-Man” visit them.

Over on Netflix and an Update

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, hands down, was the best host of a travel and cooking show. (Bourdain was the always-secular son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father). However, PHIL ROSENTHAL’s Netflix series, “Somebody Feed Phil,” is at least in the same league as Bourdain’s shows.  It is a witty and interesting look at the cultures and food of the places Rosenthal visits around the world. The show’s complete second season starts streaming on July 6. Rosenthal, 58, was the co-creator of the TV hit, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” He has been married since 1990 to MONICA HORAN, 55, who played Amy, the wife of Raymond’s policeman brother.  

The second season of “Glow,” the hit comedy/drama about pro women’s wrestling, began streaming on June 29. The performance of ALISON BRIE, 35, in the lead role earned her a Golden Globe nomination this year. Co-stars include MARC MARON, 54, and JACKIE TOHN, 36.

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