Actor, 'Role Models' and 'I Love You, Man'

For much of this decade, Paul Rudd was everywhere… except centerstage. Working constantly in movies, television and theater, Rudd was a low-profile guy even on high-profile projects (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Friends”).

But in the last year the spotlight has finally found Rudd and held steady — he was one of two male leads in the “bromances” “Role Models” (which he helped write) and “I Love You, Man.”

“Sometimes there is pushback from a studio on casting, but the general feeling in the industry was that Paul was ready,” says John Hamburg, who directed “I Love You, Man” and praises Rudd for his “relatability” and his fearlessness. “He has done so much good work and, for so long, he has honed his craft and built his audience. Not everyone can go from stealing a couple of scenes to leading man, but we knew he could do it.”

Although he shared billing with Seann William Scott and then Jason Segel in the two movies, it was Rudd who received the major helping of media coverage as the new It Guy of romantic comedy. And while neither film reached blockbuster status, both scored solidly enough — $67 million and $71 million, respectively — to ensure that his next career step, as full-fledged leading man, is on the horizon.

He’s also busy behind the scenes as an exec producer and creator of Starz’s series “Party Down.”

“After those two movies, if there was ever any concern, I have to think it has gone away,” Hamburg says.

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