Paul Rudd‘s been a successful actor ever since his big breakout role, when he played Cher’s boyfriend on the hit movie Clueless. Since then, he’s been Ant-Man in Avengers: Endgame, Steve Carell‘s horny friend on The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Andy in Wet Hot American Summer, and plenty more.
Rudd spoke with Variety through a video chat with Avengers co-star Chris Evans, and talked about his time playing Mike Hannigan, Phoebe Buffay’s eventual husband, in NBC’s “Friends.” It turns out that his time on the sitcom wasn’t all roses.
Evans wanted to ask Rudd about these “clubby, cliquey, benchmark-y things” that the actor had been involved with, like “Friends,” the Marvel movies, and films made by Judd Apatow.
“In something like ‘Friends,’ the show was about them, but it’s an interesting thing to be a part of,” Rudd said.
Rudd played Mike Hannigan, who meets Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) on a blind date with her friend, Joey (Matt LeBlanc). But Joey forgot to find a guy for her, so he just shouted out the name “Mike” while at Central Perk, and Paul Rudd’s Mike answered.
By the time Rudd joined “Friends,” the show already had a huge following, so it was like a built-in success for him. But while he says he felt like an immaterial part of the show, he understood its significance.
“I was only in it for just a blip. I felt, ‘I’m like a prop on this show. It’s not about Mike Hannigan.’ But there’s a very interesting feeling to be a part of something that has that kind of profound impact on pop culture.”
Rudd even had an awkward exchange with Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel on the show. He explained what happened on the Graham Norton Show. It should be noted that this event occurred during Rudd’s first day on the set.
“I was on the set for my first episode and Jennifer was on a Segway because she had broken her toe, and everyone was marveling at it. Matt LeBlanc asked to have a go and immediately knew how to do it (ride a Segway),” he said.
Rudd probably wanted to be just one of the guys, and so he tried his hand at the Segway.
“I then asked to try it too. I spun round and rolled it right over Jennifer’s foot!
The producer’s look of panic was as if to say, ‘Is it too late to fire him? Has his character been established yet?’ I felt awful. Such an inauspicious start.”
But no one could stay angry at Paul Rudd, and of course he continued playing Mike up until the series finale.