Paul Rudd has appeared in Dinner with Schmucks and now Our Idiot Brother. The fact that Schmucks and Idiot are in the films' titles was honestly lost on him when we spoke to the actor recently. “Wow, is there a theme happening here?” Rudd asked aloud and laughed. “Well this spring I have The Dumbass coming out. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Now, we’re laughing and that is exactly how Rudd wants it.
In Our Idiot Brother, the charming independent film and darling of last year’s Sundance, Rudd stars as Ned, a man who has been experiencing his own unique life journey while his siblings collectively feel he has been completely absent from family and frankly, his own life.
Rudd is the rare actor who can effortlessly move from comedy to drama and most importantly, combine both fluently in one performance.
Our Idiot Brother finds Rudd doing just that opposite his fellow co-stars in the Jesse Peretz written and directed film landing in theaters August 26. Rudd is joined by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer as sisters trying to make sense of their recently returned to the homefront brother.
Movie Fanatic: It seems that without dysfunctional families, independent film would suffer a subject matter blow. What do you think it is about the family of the modern world that is so conducive to great ensemble pieces?
Paul Rudd: I think that’s the point of it, what makes watching a movie enjoyable is you can relate to it in some way. [Laughs] Even in the tagline, “Everybody has one,” it’s like, “Oh yeah, I can relate to that. That’s me.” Or, “That’s similar to my situation and it makes me think of my situation. I can escape into this one. It can somehow inform my decisions that I will make in my own life.” It’s not just pure escapism and that’s good.
Movie Fanatic: What scene in the film particularly resonated with you?
Paul Rudd: There’s something about the scene with, “Sometimes you just want to play charades with your family.” That, despite all of the battling and fighting, we come together. It was such an emotionally charged moment and scene. It was kind of heartbreaking, because at different points we all sometimes -- as hard as you can be -- you just want to play charades with your family, but you’re unable to.
Movie Fanatic: What was it about director Jesse that you guys like to work together after you appeared in his The Chateau and others?
Paul Rudd: I think he’s a great director and one of the things that I knew immediately upon reading this script was that his take on it was going to be the same take on it that I had. Yeah, I’ve worked with Jesse a couple of times now. I feel like I know Jesse fairly well. As far as relating to me and my character, it is amazing to play a hippie. And there’s this thing with marijuana and there’s all these external things and it’s called Our Idiot Brother, but none of that is a focus. None of us would think about that when we are shooting it. It’s more about somebody who isn’t cynical, that makes a very conscious decision to live his life this way. That was the basis of the character. Yeah, the Crocs he wears are funny, but that doesn’t define who he is, long hair and a beard, all of that. There was already, for me, a trust with Jesse directing it. I knew that inherently what he was going to get across was what I would want to get across. There’s also something I believe in this character that I play, that are qualities inherent into who Jesse is. Jesse is the most universally liked person. He’s very gentle. Now, Jesse’s very sweet to everybody and when he’s directing, sometimes I think he feels bad giving you direction [laughs]. “No man -- your choice -- that was great, I love it. Umm, let’s just do that.” When what he really wants is to say something else.
Movie Fanatic: Was there a family boot camp before filming because you all felt dysfunctional, yes, yet with all the qualities that every single family in the world can relate?
Paul Rudd: I think that there's a lot of the cast that are already friends with each other -- especially amongst the actual siblings. In a way I feel we benefited from being a pretty low budget movie and not having trailers and places for people to escape and be alone. It forced everyone to hang out with each other all the time. It could have backfired and they could have hated each other, but luckily everyone really enjoyed each other. I think that was the basis of there being the comfortable vibe that was necessary to actually project sibling love and hate.
Movie Fanatic: When you got the call for the reshoot for the ending, what were your thoughts?
Paul Rudd: It was, “Do I have enough time to re-grow the beard?” [Laughs] I loved the opportunity to try something. I was excited the Weinstein Company believed enough in the movie that they wanted to really get it 100 percent right.