With 'Wanderlust' released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 25, one of the stars of the film, Paul Rudd, chats about his colleagues Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux - and working with nudists.
Q: You and your co-star Jennifer Aniston have been friends for a long time, and on 'Wanderlust' you got to work together again. What was that like?
A: Great. Jen is very funny and we've been friends for years. It's so nice when you can work with your friends. I've always said that this is a really fun job, and I think that making a movie should be an enjoyable experience; I don’t think it should be difficult.
It takes a few months, especially on something like this where we were in Clarksville, Georgia, it was very remote, no-one is going anywhere, so you need to enjoy the experience. And when you can do that and you are with friends, or people whose company you enjoy, it makes the experience so much better. And the experience itself becomes just as important to me as the finished product.
Q: You and Jennifer have great chemistry on screen: is that just something that happens or is it something that you work on?
A: We do have this shared history, we have known each other for such a long time, so there are some things that I think just happen. We know when the other person speaks how to interact... but that's just because we know each other. We're friends, so that helps, but we also really hit it off when we first met, actually.
Q: How was it working with Justin (Theroux) who plays the commune's slightly sinister guru-type leader?
A: Justin and I have worked together before, and Justin makes me laugh in so many ways. Every time I see him play a character, he always takes a different approach, and it's always very smart and really well-observed. He's such a smart guy and you have to be that smart to play the guy that doesn't get the joke.
One of the most brilliant things to me that he does in this movie, a choice that he made in this part, was that he was this guy with no sense of humour; he doesn't get the joke. He would do these things where he would never get a joke, and he was so serious about it and so earnest that it makes me laugh.
Q: With the beard and the long hair he seems like he might be crazy, is he actually completely bonkers?
A: No. No, he's not. He's good at playing them, he's good at playing crazy guys, but that's just a wig. All of his crazy guys are so funny and they’re weirdly loveable because they're such buffoons.
Q: How was it dealing with all the nakedness on-set? There were nudists and the naked guy who does the full frontal. That was quite confronting.
A: With the nude winemaker, played by Joe Lo Truglio, it was weird how quickly I adapted. He didn't faze me at all. But it was weird to work with naked people. These nudists were on set and I felt bad for them because it was freezing! And you do have to focus on keeping eye contact so you don't look pervy.
Q: What's interesting about this movie is that the director is also the co-writer and one of the actors is the co-writer. How is it working with David and Ken?
A: Well, I've worked with David and Ken – and Joe Lo Truglio – more than with anybody else. I've known them for such a long time. We all worked on a movie together called 'Wet Hot American Summer' (2001), then David, Ken and I wrote 'Role Models' (2008) together, and it’s a very collaborative thing where we are all friends – good friends - and I think we all approach this stuff from the same place, with a similar sensibility.
It’s easier because you don't have to worry about, like, "How do you feel about this? Do you think we should do this?" In a way, it’s like, "Well, I know you’re thinking about it the exact same way I’m thinking about it, we’ve known each other for so long." We know each other’s sense of humour.
Q: Some of the funniest bits in the movie are your scenes with Ken, who plays Rick. He's a great actor, and so funny. Ken was saying that he had done some outrageous things in filming that might only make the DVD.
A: I think that’s true and I think that the DVD will have tons of extra stuff, there is a whole other movie there. And Ken is crazy, crazy funny. Also it's fun for Ken to play an asshole. I like watching Ken play assholes. He’s really good at it. He’s like the nicest guy in the world and when he enters the room, he can take over in the best way – he’s so funny – but I love it when he plays hot-heads. I did this show called 'Party Down' (2009) and Ken played this imbecile who was running a company. He's just a really talented guy, and one of my best friends.
Q: They say there is no vanity in comedy. Not taking yourself seriously is important both in life and in the industry, right?
A: Whatever you do, you can't take any of it seriously. We can't take ourselves seriously, that's what I mean. I think you can take what you do seriously. But take yourself seriously? Urgh.
Q: Just to go back in your career, to 'Friends' (1994-2004). That was really when we first saw you, in many countries around the world, because it was the biggest show on the planet. How was it being in 'Friends'?
A: It was surreal. I was only ever supposed to do two episodes, and then they were writing another one, and it was very much like, "We have this idea for an episode in two weeks," so it turned out to be a lot more than I anticipated. In a way, it was a little bit like dipping my foot in the pool and getting used to the heat of it, that kind of thing.
What was easy was that I actually knew Jennifer and David Schwimmer already, so I was friends with a couple of people in the cast and they were all so nice, and that made it easier. But I just wanted to hang back, on that show, I just figured, "I am going to become a prop on this show, I’m just going to hang in the back. This show is about them."
And while I enjoyed it, the entire thing was kind of a blur. And surreal. I never got over the fact that it would be my 10th show or something, and I would still be sitting there going, "I can’t believe I’m in Central Perk. This is so weird." And on the very last episode of the show, I was sitting there and I would look at that French poster that said, ‘Jouets’ in the apartment, and I was like, "That’s the thing I see on TV all the time. It’s that poster." I had the reaction working there that I think anybody who ever watched the show on TV had, which was, "Oh my God! I’ve seen that on TV and there it is, the actual thing."
Q: What about working in theatre? You have obviously been on the stage. Jennifer said you put her off the idea of doing theatre...
A: What? How did I do that?
Q: By telling here that you essentially have no life when you do theatre.
A: I don’t think I put it like that, I would never talk her out of doing it, but the schedule is all-encompassing; eight shows a week is intense, just by the very nature of what it is that you are doing, you have to throw all of yourself into it. That's my honest assessment.
Q: You're also a producer, so is that a way for you as an actor to be more empowered and feel like you have more control over what you are doing?
A: It's nice to be creatively involved. I was always jealous of musicians, writers and painters – maybe I was a little naive – who could do what it is that they do, and it could be their own thing, without the influence of others; a songwriter can sit down and write the exact song he wants to write and then play it. A painter can paint what he wants, a writer can write a book, and yes he has editors and that sort of stuff, but in a movie, there are so many factors involved, it’s a collaborative effort.
As a producer, it’s nice to be able to see several takes and say, "Oh, I think if you do this, then maybe this is the one to use," instead of just showing up, standing on your mark, saying your lines and going home.'Wanderlust' is out on DVD/Blu-ray from July 25.