A Minute With Actor/Comedian Paul Rudd

What was your favorite part about being at West? What was your favorite class?
My favorite part of being at West was the social aspect of it all. I mean, like you guys, I really liked hanging out with my friends. There were a few classes I liked, too. I loved making movies for Radio and TV class. I also liked Forensics. I remember thinking it was the first time I got to focus on doing things I loved and might want to make a career of. I did a couple of plays, but I think I got into Radio and TV and forensics more.

What activities were you involved in?
When I started at West, I played soccer. I’d played soccer since I was 5 and kept it going through high school. When I hit my junior year though, I kind of bailed on it because A) I started to lose interest, and B) I wasn’t as good as the other guys. That may have been why I lost interest.

What was your general opinion of West? Did you like it or not?
My general opinion of West was pretty good. I liked a lot of the people. I also didn’t click with everyone. I kind of thought it would’ve been the same at any school. I did have a couple of teachers I really liked. Sally Shipley, who retired, was one of my favorites. She encouraged acting silly and doing what you loved and she never spoke down to us. I also really liked the principal, John Kreuger. I think they maybe had more of an effect on my life than I realized at the time.

Who was your best friend in high school?
I had a few great friends, but I suppose Jeff Rose would’ve been my best friend. He was in junior high too. We’re still friends to this day.

Do you ever come back to Kansas and visit?
I do come back every year. Certainly for Christmas and usually a couple of other times in between.

What did you do outside of school?
Outside of school I just kind of hung out, I guess. I worked at Oak Park Mall for awhile. I worked in Westport at a place called The Imagery, that I think is still there. I remember I had friends who were in Cotillion and stuff like that, but I wasn’t. There were other after school groups that I would sometimes hear about, but I wasn’t involved in any of them. Some of them sounded kind of lame to me at the time. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t invited to be in them! But, looking back I can say some of them actually were kind of lame. Most weren’t, but a few were. I wasn’t wrong.

What do you miss most about West?
I think I miss how fun school is. I know that sounds crazy, because when you’re there you just want to get through it. But, it’s easy to get nostalgic. There are certain pressures that you experience as an adult that you don’t deal with as a student. Adults also tend to forget the pressures that students deal with and minimize them because they forgot what it’s like. Or, they can seem less important to them — adolescent, or something. But, I miss the sense of everything being ahead of me. Of the possibility. And high school crushes. Those are so intense, and if they’re returned it’s awesome. If not, it totally sucks. But, it’s short lived; thank God.

Did you ever go to the school dances? What were they like?
I did go to the school dances. They were fun, I guess. Although my prom date went to South and she bailed at about 10:30 at night. She said she had to work the next day. Right. Ha! I did have fun though, I just hung out with my friends.

Initially what were your college plans?
Initially, my college plans were KU. I thought about art school, but couldn’t afford it. By the time I graduated, I couldn’t really decide between studying art or theater. I figured I’d go to KU to start and then if I decided, I could transfer to a specialized school somewhere. I figured pretty early on it was going to be acting and decided I’d go to KU for two years and then go to a theater school. That’s what I did. Although, looking back part of me wishes I’d finished at KU because it was really fun. But, I certainly don’t dwell on it and I’m happy it worked out like it did.

What was your big break that took your acting career?
There are different breaks at different times. It was a break getting an agent. It was a break getting into the Actor’s Union. It was a break doing commercials and starting to make money. But, for career purposes, I had a huge break with the movie “Clueless.”

What did you think you wanted to be in high school?
When I was in high school I had lots of ideas of what I wanted to be but none of them were safe bets. They were all pretty artsy-fartsy. I liked art and animation. I was into stand up comedy and theater too. In the end, theater won out.

What do you want in your future? Would you like to stick with comedy or change gene?
In the future I just hope to continue to do what I love. I’m super lucky in that I do what I love. I want to keep acting in lots of different things – dramas, comedies, movies, plays. Everything. I’d also like to write more, as well.

Do you have anything to add that you want high schoolers to know?
The only thing I’d tell high schoolers is don’t sweat it all that much. I wouldn’t tell the popular kids much except be nice to everyone. If you’re mean to people, it’s uncool and karma will get you. The people that you’re mean to won’t forget and many of them will excel after high school. They will be the ones hiring, and you will be begging for a job.

If you’re a student that’s having a hard time, I’d just say it gets better. You will find like-minded people after high school. Or, you’ll be able to find your own way and it will be great. Ultimately though, I wouldn’t get too worked up about any of it and trust that you’ll be okay.

What was your favorite school lunch?
I don’t remember what my favorite lunch was, actually. Doesn’t it always suck? Ummm, fries?

Photo: Darla Khazei/MCT Campus