The smallest superhero had the largest smile in Harvard on Friday night, as he sat on stage for a celebratory roast that targeted his likable “dad face,” his past as a bar mitzvah DJ, and of course his role as the tiny “Ant Man” in the Marvel universe.
Actor and screenwriter Paul Rudd was presented with the 2018 Man of the Year award by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals during the annual black-tie event at Farkas Hall in Cambridge.
Emcee’s Hannah Needle and Annie McCreery opened the night going through Rudd’s filmography with a pun or jab for every title, going as far back as 1995’s “Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers,” saying that the film had not aged quite as well as Rudd’s forever-youthful face.
After the roast, as the tradition goes, Rudd was not the only star on stage, as before he could receive his Pudding Pot, he had to prove himself to a collection of characters from him past, and one from his (hopefully distant) future: the Grim Reaper. Asking him to prove he is still “young at heart” the Reaper (played by cast member Jacob Roberts) instructed him to do a series of tasks. Rudd took the challenge like the superhero that he is, He chugged a beer, competing with his Avengers co-stars Thor, the Hulk, and Captain America (Adam Martin, Daniel Hughes, and Harrison Phelps, respectively) to prove Ant Man was cool enough to hang. He was also instructed by Sex Panther (Eric Cheng) on how to break out of his classic dad role and be sexy, and with a runway strut and a lion’s meow. Rudd tried his best at a growl and strut and ended up twerking his way to finally getting the Pot. On accepting the award, Rudd made a few jokes of his own, saying that he thought maybe this was an honorary degree and he could possibly use it in the future, “My kids are young…foot in the door?”
Rudd has been in almost every form of production, from mainstream films to indie movies and most recently tried his hand at the Sundance Film Festival, starring as a Boston Red Sox player in “The Catcher Was A Spy.” Rudd plays Moe Berg, a real-life baseball player who spent the last five years of his career with the Sox. He then switched from ballgames to espionage, serving as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.
“Filming in Fenway was one of the greatest days I’ve ever had in my life, let alone my acting life,” Rudd said. “I’m a baseball fan and was on hallowed ground. To be on the field, wearing the uniform, and playing somebody who is real, which is a new experience for me, was surreal.”
Rudd is also the first man of the year announced after the recent declaration that women will now be allowed to not only audition but perform in the annual Hasty Pudding Theatricals show, first announced at Mila Kunis’s roast for the 2018 Woman of the Year award last month.
When asked what he thought of the new rule, Rudd responded with a short, “I think it’s great, it’s great.”
In a press packet distributed at the event, a page was dedicated to the gender inclusivity of the coming year. “Commencing with the 2019 annual production, the Hasty Pudding welcomes students of all genders to audition for and perform in the show.”
Rudd joins the ranks of Hollywood men honored by the Hasty Pudding club, a group that includes Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, and even the 2018 Super Bowl halftime performer Justin Timberlake.
Sophie Cannon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org