For Paul Rudd, the decision to star in Jay Roach’s new comedy, Dinner for Schmucks, was an easy one.

 

“I thought the script was really funny,” he says. “That was it. It was kind of a no-brainer.”

 

Of course, Rudd, who’s built an impressive resumé of smart comedies including Anchorman and Role Models, was just as enamoured with the man behind the camera as he was with the screenplay.

 

“One of the things I think is amazing about Jay is how versatile he is,” Rudd says of Roach. “He’s done so many funny movies and then he goes and does a movie like Recount, where he’s just such a smart guy. He has all of this talent, yet he’s the most self-effacing guy.”


In Dinner for Schmucks, Rudd stars as Tim, an overextended finance worker looking to impress his boss (Bruce Greenwood). He’s given a chance to do just that when he’s invited to an exclusive dinner where the attendees bring the biggest idiot they can find. The schmuck with the most hilarious talent wins a trophy. Despite his moral hesitations, Tim can’t help but think it’s fate when he runs into Barry, a naïve simpleton played by Steve Carell — another aspect that made the film an easy choice for Rudd.


Some might have hesitations about a movie with “schmuck” in the title, but Rudd, who is Jewish, brushes off any controversy.


“My grandfather used to call me a schmuck all the time,” he says. “You know, it’s like the word ‘putz.’ When I was growing up, I thought the word ‘putz’ was a really funny word — ‘Don’t be a putz!’ So I always thought a putz was just an idiot, but then my dad told me, ‘A putz is a penis.’ What’s up with so many words that mean penis in Yiddish?”