Ironically, Paul Rudd's "biggest" role might be for his smallest character. The world currently knows Rudd as Scott Lang, the insect-sized hero Ant-Man in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe. But to only associate Rudd with this comic-book role is to overlook -- and under-value -- the versatile work this performer has been doing in assorted projects for decades.
Movie fans are going to see a completely unexpected and unpredictable side of Paul Rudd when Duncan Jones' sci-fi thriller Mute opens on Netflix on February 23. Yes, the early buzz swirled around Rudd's magnificent mustache, a bold swath of facial hair that takes up a lot of real estate on the actor's handsome face. But once they settle into Jones' gritty parable, they'll realize that Rudd's character, Cactus Bill, actually marks a stark departure from the performer's everyman shtick, instantly becoming one of his most memorable roles.
In the film, Cactus Bill and his partner, Duck (Justin Theroux), work as surgeons for a team of gangsters who have a vice grip on Germany's seedy criminal underbelly. Bill and Duck each have personal and professional goals -- which I can't get into here, because it would ruin some of Mute's best surprises -- but their interactions with a silent bartender (Alexander Skarsgard) threaten the duo's way of life... and possibly their futures. Where does Cactus Bill from Mute land on the list of incredible Rudd roles? Read on to find out.
10. Bobby Newport, Parks and Recreation
Some actors get pigeonholed as either "TV personalities" or "big screen movie stars," but precious few transition back and forth with the ease that Paul Rudd has managed. Maybe it's because, instead of trying to carry his own sitcom, Rudd has chosen his moments to shine on previously established shows like Friends (as you will see later on this list) and Parks and Recreation. Bobby Newport is the dopey son of a rich, entitled family who makes life extremely difficult for Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). The fact that he's too dumb to realize how annoying he is turns out to be the comedic icing on the cake.
9. Chuck, Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Paul Rudd's a brilliant comedian who always understands what's hilarious about the situation that he's in. That being said, some of his most memorable comedic turns have been playing dumb dudes, and few are more vacant and empty-headed than his scene-stealing surf instructor, Chuck, from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And in one of his funniest lines, the motivational idiot explains to Jason Segel, "The less you do, the more you do." It sums up Rudd's approach to comedy in a nutshell.
8. Ben Benjamin, The Fundamentals of Caring
Paul Rudd's a likable guy who frequently plays clueless idiots. But every once in a while, a filmmaker will see in Rudd his ability to be earnest and humble while also maintaining the sarcastic edge that comes to him so easily. Netflix's original film The Fundamentals of Caring expertly shows that side of Rudd, as his character Ben agrees to be a caregiver for a handicapped young man, only to find these opposing personalities at odds with each other as they embark on an important road trip. Caring shows all of what Rudd has to offer as an actor, and a comedian.