Paul Rudd might just be America’s Sweetheart. He’s known for his wealth of charm and charisma, which have earned him roles as the sweet boyfriend in several romantic comedies, as well as his comedic timing, which has led him to star in crude comedies such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Rudd deserves more praise for his versatility as an actor, and his ability to add different layers to even the most simple-seeming characters.
As we wait for Rudd to return to the Marvel Universe in Avengers: Infinity War, after which he’ll zip to the July 6 release of Ant-Man & The Wasp, here are his seven best performances.
7. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
It’s not the strongest sequel in the Halloween franchise, but this cult-oriented middle movie is a fun ride thanks to Paul Rudd’s portrayal of the frantic yet heroic Tommy Doyle. (That would be the same Tommy that Laurie Strode babysat in the original film.) It’s worth noting that this is Rudd’s big screen debut, and he delivers a more believable performance than any of his seasoned co-stars.
6. Clueless (1995)
From the outrageous outfits to the iconic quotes — Ugh, as if! — Clueless is the quintessential ‘90s flick. Rudd plays Josh, the dreamy ex-stepbrother of rich, blonde, and popular Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), who becomes her love interest at the end of the film. It’s safe to say that Rudd’s smooth portrayal of this hunky, All-American teen is what led him to be cast in a string of coming-of-age-style romcoms in the years to follow.
5. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing camp counselor Andy, the idiot-bad-boy who sucks face with Elizabeth Banks, throws his plates on the floor after he’s done eating, and lets campers drown in the lake. This raunchy summer camp comedy bombed at the box office but later became a cult classic, spawning a prequel series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp in 2015, and a sequel series, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, in 2017. Fortunately for us, Rudd reprises his role in both those series, but the original film remains a career highlight.
4. The Shape of Things (2001)
Rudd shines in this underrated indie drama about the misanthropic side of love. His character, Adam, is a nerdy and reserved pessimist who is ultimately convinced that men and women are mortal enemies. Rudd’s heartbreaking performance showcases the human obsession with the superficial – as well as his own versatility as an actor. The film is an adaptation of the stage play written by Neil LaBute, in which Rudd originated the role.
3. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Field reporter Brian Fantana is one of the most memorable parts of Anchorman, the crude, Will Ferrell-lead comedy that parodies 1970s Action News culture. Mustached, suave, and sleazy, Rudd puts on a brilliant performance that shows off his impeccable comedic timing.
2. I Love You, Man (2009)
Rudd’s Peter Klaven is uncharacteristically sweet and optimistic for a friendless man who is completely uncomfortable with himself. Throughout this bro-mantic rom-com, Rudd successfully navigates between crude humor and sincerity, creating the kind of character the audience wants to root for — flaws and all.
1. Ant-Man (2015)
Since he’s best known for comedic work, Ant-Man is Rudd’s first time suiting up for a superhero movie. Rudd brings lovability and charm to Scott Lang, an ex-con desperate to reconnect with his daughter. Ant-Man received mixed reviews but performed well enough to garner a sequel: Ant-Man and the Wasp, coming this summer. Rudd also works great as a supporting player, as his appearance in Captain America: Civil War demonstrates.
You’ve got two chances to see Paul Rudd as Ant-Man in 2018, as Avengers: Infinity War opens on April 27, and Ant-Man & The Wasp flies onto movie screens on July 6.