Paul Rudd's Lifelong Heartthrob: How Clueless Turned Him Into a Lifelong Heartthrob

Paul Rudd's Lifelong Heartthrob: How Clueless Turned Him Into a Lifelong Heartthrob ...

Paul Rudd, who was then 52, was dubbed the "sexiest man alive" in 2021 by People Magazine, and it was a surprise to see him. He has wooed the world with his distinctive blend of unassuming grace, boyish looks (how is he 53?!), apparent lack of ego, and uncanny screen presence. However, Amy Heckerling took him into the spotlight when she played him in Jane Austen's Emma, a Valleygirl play.

Heckerling desired to create a film about a a adolescent girl who was endlessly happy and positive and who had found inspiration in Austens' title character now moved to Beverly Hills, complete with a former step-brother blurring the lines of familial relationships. Josh (Rudd).

Cher Horowitz is a beautiful, wealthy teenager who is immaculately dressed and a Queen Bee at school. Several occasions she makes mistakes, including meddling with new girl Tai (Britney Murphy), a stoner who is instantly attracted to slacker Travis (Jeremy Sisto), who is in fact only interested in Cher, though Tai is not.

Cher forgives Tai, turns her into someone she is not, gives her bad advice, and listens down to her. She sees what she has done and expresses her wholeheartedly.

Rudd's first credit feature isn't Clueless; it's something called A Question of Ethics (1992), in which he is credited as Kenny Chin.

[The Kenny Chin story: This was a 20-minute sort-of-film about not cheating at school that turned out to be a Christian propaganda film. Rudd was not informed and strongly opposed when he was asked to do an alternate final article about risking going to Hell or accepting Jesus into his life.]

Clueless was Rudd's first feature, playing Josh, Cher's father's college wife. He is political, intelligent, and a bit snooty, although he ultimately helps her to become a better person and she ultimately agrees that he is a Baldwin*. At the end, he loves her as well.

Heckerling's ability to tap into Rudd's superpower (being deeply lovely) transforms Clueless from a story about a college-age family member grooming a 16-year-old virgin in her own house into one of the greatest loved and most popular teenage comedies of all time.

Before settling on Rudd, Heckerling auditioned both Ben Affleck and Zach Braff for the role of Josh. Can you imagine what a different film this might have been if either had landed the part?

Cher and Joshs romance is allowed to develop gently and simultaneously. During a fairly short one-piece exercise video, Josh does not pervade her (he calls her a superficial space cadet and tells her if he ever saw her do anything that wasnt 90 percent selfish hed die of shock). She replies: Oh, thatd be reason enough for me.

Cher goes down in a very short white dress and Josh oggles her. Then turning to her father, who isn't Joshs father, he says, Are you going to let her go out like that? In this film, her father just puts a sheer jacket on.

Josh tells Chers dad that he will watch her for you. It's a creepy behavior to tie himself up with Chers dad to basically chaperone a 16-year-old boy he's starting to fancy on a date. The thought of Affleck delivering those lines and not appearing like a pervy uncle is difficult to imagine.

Rudds the guy for the job. At the party, he pretty much ignores Cher, talks to the only grown up in the room, and dances like an embarrassing lunatic with Tai (who isnt embarrassed and doesnt care since, despite the makeover, she is actually a pretty cool girl).

Cher is allowed to fall in love at her own pace, and even sat beside her on the sofa Josh gives her space. Rudd's performance is so open and gentle that he just doesnt seem to be a predator in the slightest; he's just adorable.

Rudd joined the Friends cast of 2002 as Phoebes love interest Mike Hannigan, firmly establishing his position as the nations' dream boyfriend (back then, not now), but really it was Rudd.

Rudd's charisma is a testament to his prolific and varied career, as evidenced by his coming to Netflix in the third Ant-Man film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Sexist Man Alive?

*A Baldwin is a clueless-speak term for an attractive gentleman, back when Billy Baldwin was all the rage. It has not aged particularly well.