Paul Rudd: “Theatre is the best way for an actor to improve”

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As funny of a guy as Paul Rudd is, when he takes the lead in a film the box office isn’t always there.  His last three starring roles — Wanderlust, Our Idiot Brother, and How Do You Know — all underperformed.  So it’s a good thing that Rudd is more than just a movie actor, since he is making a return to Broadway after several years in movies to star in Grace alongside Michael Shannon, Kate Arrington, and Ed Asner.

He spoke to Playbill about coming back to his theatrical roots and what he loves about being involved in a stage production

Grace deals with very big questions. And any time you can spend with the big questions is time well spent.”  Stopping himself from sounding too pretentious, he quickly adds, “Oh! People will read that and think I’m like Frank Langella, and not some imbecile who makes fart jokes.”

In fact, one of the perks of appearing on Broadway is it allows Rudd to explore different types of comedy roles than the ones he typical portrays in movies.  He explains, “Doing plays allows me to flex different muscles… Theatre is the best way for an actor to improve.” He points at “the sheer repetition” as a great way to practice acting skills and building up endurance, but adds, “But the schedule is a bummer. The one day off is not cool.”

Despite having just one day off a week, Rudd admits that he misses the stage and the camaraderie it builds among the cast and crew.  He says, “The life of doing a play is special and I treasure it. I miss the community as much as anything else — going to dinner after the show and seeing other people doing shows.”

Along with that community, Rudd gets a rise out of the thrill of the energy from a live audience.  He explains, “Actors can tell by degrees what the audience is like, even a quiet house. If there’s a lot of coughers, it doesn’t mean they’re not listening. You feel the energy. So there’s a charge in hearing the announcement that curtain goes up in half an hour. It’s a thrill.”

Grace opens on September 13 and runs through January 6  at the Cort Theatre.

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