When Yahoo Entertainment hit the suburban Atlanta set of Ant-Man and the Wasp last August, we were digging for a scoop on the emergence of Evangeline Lilly‘s titular superheroine, as well as intel on the character who would be making Scott Lang and friends’ missions more difficult (that new antagonist is Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen).
We were also there to dive into a mystery that has baffled the internet’s bloggers, tweeters, and memers for years: How is it that the (supposedly) 49-year-old star Paul Rudd looks almost identical today to how he appeared in the mid-’90s, when he first won over the public in films like Clueless and The Object of My Affection? Is he being preserved in some sort of age-freezing device by Marvel so that when the studio inevitably reboots Ant-Man in 20 years, it can still star Rudd looking exactly the same? Did he sell his soul to the devil? Is he a vampire? A Highlander?? An Eternal???
We started with the man (mystical being?) himself. “I’ve heard of this,” Rudd replied coyly when asked about the internet’s obsession with his aging (or lack thereof) as he sat on a soundstage at the Pinewood U.S. Studios. He was in between takes of a scene capturing banter between his Scott Lang and his old prison buddies (Michael Peña, T.I., and David Dastmalchian) at the offices of their new security company, X-Con. “I disagree with it.”
The theories on this phenomenon vary when you speak to his director and co-stars.
“Many people don’t know this, but Paul is actually 84 years old,” said director Peyton Reed. “Paul is 84, and he made a pact with some dark force at some point his life. It’s sort of a Dorian Gray thing.”
“He’s a vampire. I think Paul Rudd is from Transylvania,” said Dastmalchian. “Or maybe he owns the fountain of youth … If you look at my high school versus now, it looks like I’ve been poisoned over the last 20 years. If you look at Paul’s high school photo and him now, it could still be his headshot.”
Pena, who posits that Rudd still “looks like a fetus,” has all kinds of guesses. “A lot of Botox. Obviously good genes. You know what’s crazy? He still has the same hairline. It’s probably Rogaine. He probably takes it all.”
Most of Rudd’s colleagues eventually turned genuine and complimentary when discussing real life’s closest thing to Benjamin Button.
“I have been watching him since Clueless, and I think he’s gotten better looking over time,” said Lilly. “He’s more dashing and suave now. He had such a baby face before. I think his secret is his boyish joy and laughter and being happy.”
Michael Douglas, who returns as Scott’s reluctant mentor Hank Pym, agreed: “To me, he’s such a beautiful guy. I think it’s just purity. And comedy. If all your time you’re thinking about, where do I get a joke? How do I bring humor to the world? I think that’s gonna make you younger.”
Added Reed: “My real answer to that question is, I think it’s his sense of humor. I think it’s his incredibly sharp, amazing sense of humor and his relatability that have kept him looking so young.”
All the earnestness is fine, but it’s more fun to imagine that Rudd struck a deal with some sinister force at some point.
As he put it when we bounced a few of these theories off him, “I would have to have a good sense of humor to sell my soul to the devil.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp is now in theaters.
Watch Paul Rudd prove he’s not as nice as you think he is:
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