Paul Rudd On 'Schmucks' Role

Paul Rudd stars in the upcoming film Dinner for Schmucks. He talks to Mary Louise Kelly about the role.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

At one time or another, most of us have been to a cringe-inducing business event. But the new movie "Dinner for Schmucks" kind of takes it to a new level. The premise is a group of corporate colleagues gather for a monthly dinner, hosted by their ruthless boss, Fender.

(Soundbite of movie, "Dinner for Schmucks")

Unidentified Man #1: Some people collect vintage automobiles.

Unidentified Man #2: Some people collect fine wines.

Unidentified Man #3: Fendy people collect people.

Mr. PAUL RUDD (Actor): (as Tim) People?

Unidentified Man #3: Yeah.

Unidentified Man #1: Each of us of us finds a remarkable person and invites them to dinner at Fender's. We call it the Dinner for Winners.

KELLY: Now, it turns out that Dinner for Winners label is a bit misleading. As the character played by Paul Rudd discovers when he sees an actual photo of one of the guests.

(Soundbite of movie, "Dinner for Schmucks")

Mr. RUDD: (as Tim) He's an idiot.

Unidentified Man #1: You got it.

Mr. RUDD: You invite idiots to dinner and make fun of them?

Unidentified Man #1: Mm-hmm.

Mr. RUDD: Thats messed up.

KELLY: That's Paul Rudd and we've brought him in to talk about the movie. Paul Rudd, how are you?

Mr. RUDD: Im great, thanks.

KELLY: Let me ask you about your character, who kind of buys-in and ends up finding an idiot of really quite epic proportions to bring to this dinner. Tell us about him.

Mr. RUDD: Yeah, that said-idiot is Steve Carell, who plays Barry Speck. And I accidentally hit him with my car. He runs out into the street to pick up a dead mouse because he...

KELLY: A dead mouse.

Mr. RUDD: Yes. He does taxidermy on mice and he creates these dioramas, recreates some kind of famous paintings with them.

KELLY: Mousterpieces.

Mr. RUDD: Mousterpieces, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUDD: Yeah. I hit him as Im trying to get out of the dinner. Im on my phone. Im a little morally opposed to it. But Im trying to get out of the dinner and then I feel as if this was divine intervention. It actually sounds and seems mean-spirited, I think, on the outside if you hear a little bit about this movie or, you know, have seen a trailer or something. But it's really not. It's kind of, its somewhat feel-good. But there are some...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUDD: There are some kinds of jerky motivations by my character's decisions.

KELLY: And you mentioned your co-star here is Steve Carell. Y'all have done a couple of movies together...

Mr. RUDD: Thats right.

KELLY: ...at this point. Alongside the two of you, there's several other very funny actors in here. And then I noticed Sacha Baron Cohen of "Borat" fame executive produced. Jay Roach of "Austin Powers" was the director.

I mean, when you get that kind of group together, is there a moment where you all just - I dont know - get the giggles?

Mr. RUDD: Oh, for sure. Im the worst of all of them, too.

KELLY: Really?

Mr. RUDD: I mean, I really, I can't control myself. I used to think I could but I can't.

KELLY: Was there a particular scene in this movie where that happened?

Mr. RUDD: Oh, God. There were a few. There was one scene where we were - I was taking part in this business lunch and Steve crashes the lunch. David Walliams plays a potential client and he says dramatically, in reference to me trying to propose to my supposed girlfriend, something along the lines of: Go offer yourself in love, or something like that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUDD: And, Steve - Steve looked - I just looked at Steve and Steve said: (unintelligible) and he didnt say anything. He just said it with such dramatic intention and just a bunch of nonsense - whispery nonsense - that I lost it.

KELLY: Yeah.

Mr. RUDD: I couldnt control myself.

KELLY: That would be the kind of thing that would be hard to script.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUDD: Yeah. And then I apologize and think, oh, God - I mean, did I just ruin the take? You can't use it. Cause the pressure of not laughing is great. You know, you dont want to - if somebody does something funny, you dont want to make it unusable.

KELLY: Now, this was loosely based on a French movie, "Le D´┐Żner De Cons."

Mr. RUDD: Mm-hmm.

KELLY: Did you watch the French version?

Mr. RUDD: I remember when it came out and seeing a trailer for it in the movie theater. And it was one of those movies that I thought I really want to see it. And then it was playing in the theater for a little while and I missed it. And I knew it was beloved. And then when this happened, I made a point of not watching it because even though this was very different, I didnt want to be influenced in some way. So I didnt.

But now I have the DVD and when all is said and done Im going to watch it probably next week. Ill sit by myself in a very dark room and watch it.

KELLY: Paul Rudd, I was surprised to learn - while I prepared for this - how much theater youve done. You trained at Oxford. Youve done a lot of Shakespeare. Is that something you would like to get back to, like to do more of?

Mr. RUDD: Yeah. I love doing plays and I love classical theater. You know, I'd always wanted to just be a working actor and kind of do movies and plays and things that I found interesting. And I love comedy. And I haven't had the burning desire to go back to the stage and do a Shakespeare play. But I imagine I will for sure.

KELLY: Well, you're at a point in your career where I assume you can pick and choose the roles you want. Does it feel freeing? Does it feel terrifying or what?

Mr. RUDD: Well, I dont know if it's quite - I mean, I dont know if thats really the case. I can't quite pick and choose and there are certain things that would be fun to do that, you know, every once in a while you hear about a movie thats going to be made and it's like, no, I dont have a shot at that one.

But I always thought it was interesting when I would hear actors say -sometimes in interviews - you know, theyd say, like, now, you - why did you choose to play this? And I would sit and think, maybe it was because they got offered the part.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUDD: Maybe they didnt really...

KELLY: And 'cause actors have bills, too.

Mr. RUDD: And maybe they didnt really have as much choice as you're talking about. I find thats certainly been the case with me and continues to be, thankfully. I mean, and I know it will probably change. You know, Im in a place now where I actually am getting offers to do things and thats a really exciting place to be. You know, to not have to take just every job that comes your way. You know, but that could very well change next week.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELLY: Well, it's great to talk to you.

Mr. RUDD: You, too. Thank you.

KELLY: That's actor Paul Rudd. He joined us from our New York bureau and his new movie is called "Dinner for Schmucks."

From NPR News, this MORNING EDITION.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And, Mary Louise, thank you for being a part of our show these last few weeks.

KELLY: It has been my great pleasure, Renee. Thanks.

MONTAGNE: And welcome, Don Gonyea, who is in the studio. Yeah, you know, checking on what we're doing here. Welcome to you for next week.

You know, Don. Hello.

DON GONYEA: Hi. Oh, Im sorry.

MONTAGNE: I let them know you're here.

GONYEA: Im here. Im here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GONYEA: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Im Renee Montagne.

KELLY: And Im Mary Louise Kelly. Have a great weekend.

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