Paul Rudd was already a Golden Globe-nominated actor with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now, he can add a new accolade: this year's sexiest man alive.
It's the latest in a string of star turns for Rudd, 52, who's become most recently known for his portrayal of Scott Lang — also known as the size-shifting superhero Ant-Man — in four movies from Walt Disney's Marvel Studios, with a fifth planned for 2023.
The latest, "Avengers: Endgame," took in roughly $2.8 billion worldwide after its 2019 release, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. It held that title until March 2021, when it was overtaken by the 2009 film "Avatar."
Rudd's career also includes notable roles in movies like 1995’s “Clueless,” 2001’s “Wet Hot American Summer” and 2004’s “Anchorman.”
Before Rudd found success in Hollywood, he worked a variety of odd jobs. Some skewed a bit more on the traditional side: delivering newspapers, bagging groceries, he told IMDB in 2015. At one point, before his acting career took off in the early 1990s, Rudd worked as a DJ at a Bat Mitzvah.
But the one he calls “the weirdest” job he’s ever had: glazing hams in his hometown of Kansas City, Kansas.
In 1992, Rudd graduated from the University of Kansas with a theater degree. To save money for a move to Los Angeles, to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he took a job at the Holiday Ham Company in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, where he grew up.
“I glazed hams,” Rudd said in a 2015 interview on ABC’s "Live! With Kelly and Michael."
He described the process, saying it involved sifting a lot of sugar from a tub onto a heated ham and then using a propane torch to melt the sugar into a glaze. “It was like a rhythm,” Rudd said.
“It was one of the weirder jobs I’ve ever had,” he said.
The “weird” job definitely didn't give Rudd any pause about pursuing his acting dreams. “[It] taught me that I don’t want to glaze hams for a living,” he told CBS’ “Sunday Morning” in 2018.
“It was really crappy. It’s a serious process. It’s way more intense than I thought it would be,” Rudd said in a 2008 interview with the University of Kansas’ alumni magazine. “There were big torches that came down from the ceiling, and I had to put on protective gear and sprinkle sugar on top of the ham. It looked like I was working in a laboratory. And then I reeked of ham every day.”
As if the smell wasn't enough, Rudd also caught a whiff of mockery from his friends over the gig.
“My friends would make fun of me,” Rudd told IMDB. “They used to call me ‘Paul Ham Glazer,’ like Paul Michael Glaser [the actor] from ‘Starsky & Hutch.’”
Fortunately for Rudd, he says the job only lasted “about six months” before he’d saved enough money to continue his acting studies in L.A. Starting in 1992, Rudd began landing a series of television jobs — including a recurring role on the NBC drama series “Sisters” and a lead role on a Fox sitcom, “Wild Oats,” that ended up being cancelled after airing just four episodes in 1994.
While “Wild Oats” was short-lived, it led to Rudd’s big break when “Clueless” director Amy Heckerling saw the show and singled out Rudd’s performance (“There was something about him,” she said in 2016). Rudd was cast as Alicia Silverstone’s step-brother-slash-love interest in the movie, which became an iconic 1990s teen comedy and launched his film career.
In 2018, Rudd told CBS that he knew as a college theater major that he wanted to become a professional actor, but his current superhero success is still somewhat of a surprise.
“I figured early on [acting] was what I wanted to do for a job. And I certainly hoped it would work out, and that I would be playing lots of different parts," Rudd said. "But I don’t think I anticipated being an ant."
Update: This story has been updated to reflect Rudd's "2021 Sexiest Man Alive" title from People.
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