Unless you’re a die-hard “Friends” fan, you probably forgot that Paul Rudd had a recurring role on the show. He played Mike Hannigan, Phoebe’s love interest toward the end of the series. In a weird twist of events, the writers included his character in the very last episode.
Paul later said that it felt very awkward to be included in the last episode. Everyone was very emotional during the final filming, and he felt like he was intruding on a personal moment between the “Friends” actors. He even tried making a joke with a sobbing Jennifer Aniston, which fell flat.
Comedy Was Never His Goal
We all know and love Paul Rudd as the adorably endearing goofball in comedies like “Anchorman” and “Parks and Recreation.” However, becoming a comedian was never Paul Rudd’s career goal. He has revealed in interviews that he never intended only to do comedy.
He is trained in classical theater and studied it in college. He fell into comedy by landing early roles in “Clueless” and “Wet Hot American Summer.” He has gotten to play some dramatic roles during his career. However, fans know him for his more light-hearted work, which now includes "Ant-Man" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
He’s Still a Hometown Boy
Paul Rudd spent part of his childhood growing up in Kansas City, Missouri. He still holds fond memories of the city and maintains a connection with it all these years later. His mother, Gloria, still lives in the city, but that’s not the only reason Paul returns occasionally.
Paul and fellow Kansas City native Jason Sudeikis host a charity poker game annually to benefit a local children’s hospital. One year Paul, Jason, and actor Rob Riggle were special guests at a Royals baseball game to drum up publicity for the charity event. Paul even got to throw the opening pitch.
Paul’s parents, Gloria and Michael, grew up in England. However, Paul discovered that both of his parents are descended from Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, originally from Belarus, Russia, and Poland. This detailed information was revealed in a 2017 episode of “Finding Your Roots.” In addition, “Rudd” is not his family’s original surname.
Paul’s paternal grandfather changed the family surname from “Rudnitzky” to “Rudd” out of an unfortunate necessity. At the time, no one wanted to hire Jewish immigrants. As a result, Paul’s grandfather shortened his last name to increase his chances of landing a job to support his family.
"Friends" Put Him on the Map
Paul Rudd played a secondary character during the last two seasons of “Friends,” and it ended up making him way more recognizable. Before he played the role of Phoebe’s boyfriend, Mike, he had experienced some minor success in movies like “Clueless” and “Wet Hot American Summer.” However, he took the “Friends” role because he knew it would give him way more exposure.
What was supposed to be a quick guest spot turned into 18 episodes. This minor role in one of the biggest sitcoms of the time transformed him from “that guy” to an actor that fans immediately recognized on the street.