That's the funny thing about irony: you never know who the joke is on, or even whether there is a joke.
Like with Paul Rudd when I interview him about I Love You, Man. The movie seemed pretty ironic to me. Rudd plays a sensitive guy with no male friends who's about to get married and needs to scrounge up a best man. Enter Jason Segel, who teaches him everything a guy is supposed to know, like hanging out with other guys, and relaxing at the masturbation station, and not picking up after your dog. Ironic, right? And then the appearances of Lou Ferrigno and the band Rush — that's got to be ironic. Not to mention that in all his interviews promoting the film Rudd has been hysterically ironic.
But with me, well, not so ironic. Unless — and this is truly diabolical — he was being ironic about not being ironic.
You be the judge.
When I was watching the movie, I thought at first that this is pushing the same male stereotypes you see in the beer commercials, and then I said, "Oh, this is interesting, because you're subtly subverting these stereotypes."
Yeah, it's actually not that. It's a truer depiction of the male psyche than the basic generalization. And I know that when I read the script, I thought, "Oh, these are like guys I know." I love that Jason and I are two characters that can wear our hearts on our sleeves, that we can talk about our feelings. We're very, very touchy-feely guys.
So when does a bromance movie become a gay movie? Is there a dividing line?
[Icy pause] Well, I think we all know maybe, technically, what the answer might be.
I mean, is kissing okay, but not on the lips? [Uncomfortable silence.] Okay, I won't pursue that. So in the new Vanity Fair you and Jason are acclaimed as some of the "New legends of comedy." How do you feel about that?
I don't think anybody's really thinking that we are legends. But it's very, very flattering to be in Vanity Fair.
In the magazine, you chose different comedy icons to represent yourselves. You chose Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein.Well, if it's premature to call you two "new legends of comedy," is it fair to say there's a comedy renaissance going on in movies now?
I chose Gene Wilder. Who really is a legend. I love Gene Wilder. I always have. And I love that movie. I mean, Young Frankenstein is one of my favorites.
I don't know. I just think that we've been in a couple of movies that have done well. You can't really pin down any kind of style or anything. It's been a fortunate, fun thing to be a part of. Something that people go see and seem to like. And it does seem that the style and taste of comedies seems to just change. Different generations.
Speaking of generations — what's with your character's Rush obsession? Were you ever a fan of the band in real life?
Yeah. And am. Yeah, absolutely. The first Rush record I got was Moving Pictures. When I was a kid. Actually, it was really kind of cool, because I had a little bit of a Rush resurgence in my life. I think I was driving one time and "Spirit of the Radio" came on and I just immediately downloaded it off iTunes when I got home and I'm kind of rediscovering some of the Rush songs, and then the movie came along and so it came about at the height of my Rush research. And I was so excited when they said, yes, they would be in it, because they're also pretty reclusive. They don't do this kind of thing too often. If ever.
How about Lou Ferrigno. Are we laughing at him? Or with him?
With him! Definitely. One of the things I loved about reading this script and working on the movie is just how not mean-spirited it is. With Lou Ferrigno there was also that element of excitement that I think we had with Rush. Jon [Favreau, who is also in the movie] and I, when we were kids, we all loved the Incredible Hulk.
You play such a sweet, unironic guy here. Isn't there really a scoffing cynic underneath?
In this movie I was excited to play this kind of character who I believe is an optimist and emotionally available, as opposed to the one I did before this, which was Role Models, where my character was a bit more of a misanthrope. There are many things in Role Models that annoy me in my own life, and so you just kind of put them in a movie. But I think ultimately I'm optimistic. I'm a glass-is-half-full-type person.
Will the economy rebound?
It will, eventually.