Paul Rudd Admits To Teenage 'Serious Actor' Ambitions

'Role Models' actor puts 'Ghostbusters 3' rumor to rest, creates new one about 'Godfather 4.'

NEW YORK — Maybe it's the cameras that are following him, or maybe it's just because he's so damned good-natured about it, but the staff at Dave & Busters don't seem to mind that Paul Rudd has just broken a Skee-Ball machine. Rudd carries part of the game with him now, sheepishly apologizing to the staffer. What can he say — in the heat of battle (or at least, in an interview promoting a film), his enthusiasm got the best of him.

MTV News has taken the "Knocked Up" and "Anchorman" star on some odd adventures in recent months, like to a golf course where the actor's club found itself in the crotch of our correspondent, or an interview that ended with him facing his fear of condiments. But it took his new movie, "Role Models," to bring Rudd here: a giant claw machine full of stuffed animals, where he's consented to do an interview.

"I don't know what it's called technically, but it feels a little bit like home," he says, looking around at the toys on top of him. "I could fall asleep in this. Some kid can come in and win me."

The curious locale actually makes sense given the subject matter of Rudd's latest flick, in which he and Seann William Scott play a pair of reluctant mentors forced into service after their careers as energy-drink pitchmen go horribly awry. As the leading men feebly try to bond with their respective mentees (Christopher Mintz-Plasse of "Superbad" and a scene-stealing Bobb'e J. Thompson), the group shares a meal at a Chuck E. Cheese substitute, Chipmunk Charlie's.

After a game of air hockey, Rudd is thinking back to his own childhood. "If you had met me at 12, I was really into the Pittsburgh Steelers," said the Kansas-raised 39-year-old. "I loved football and listening to Steve Martin records. Anything to do with comics I could watch at great length." But that didn't mean stand-up was in the cards for the actor, who didn't become recognized for his deadpan comic timing until recent years. Rudd admits his ambitions were a bit more serious in the beginning. "As soon as I hit high school, I didn't want to do comedy anymore and that was the time I decided I wanted to be a serious actor," he said.

Despite a big break in "Clueless," it was indeed in dramas that audiences were most likely to find Rudd. Supporting roles in "Romeo + Juliet" and "The Cider House Rules" kept him on the straight-and-narrow path to potential leading-man territory. But all has come full circle for Rudd. Comedy is what's clearly defining his career. Small memorable roles in "Wet Hot American Summer" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" ("How do I know you're gay?") have now given way to films like "Role Models" in which he is the star. There's more on the way: In March's "I Love You, Man," he once again teams up with his "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" co-star Jason Segel.

And then there's that pesky rumor that won't die. Could Paul Rudd be a Ghostbuster in the now-in-development sequel? "No one has ever talked to me about it," he insisted. "It's not even written. I'm all excited like it's going to happen. It's like, 'Sweet, I have "Ghostbusters 3" coming up!' But it's not even true. I feel like because I read it online it must be happening."

With "Ghostbusters 3" only a daydream for now, is there another Internet rumor he'd like to perpetuate? "I'm really excited about the movie I'm starting in May," he deadpanned. "It's called 'The Godfather 4.' I'm the youngest Corleone, Ben. I'm worse than Fredo. They don't talk about me much. The weird thing is it has nothing to do with the Mafia. It's all about arts and crafts."

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