Paul Rudd is officially the ‘sexiest man alive’. It’s about time.

Paul Rudd is the sexiest man alive?
Well, duh.

No, like, officially?
Oh, yes. People magazine have spoken upon it and bequeathed their annual title, which has been running since 1985, to the never-ageing Clueless star.

That smile!

That’s unexpected. But it’s also correct.
Rudd, at 52, now joins a pantheon of sexy men that includes previous People titleholders including Michael B. Jordan (2020), Idris Elba (2018), Chris Hemsworth (2014), George Clooney (2006), and Johnny Depp (2003 and 2009).

And Blake Shelton (2017).
We don’t need to talk about Blake Shelton.

I know this honour is a PR stunt, dubiously selected and generally tied to promo for some upcoming project (Rudd has Apple TV+’s The Shrink Next Door out this week), but how is he taking the news?
With his trademark sardonic discernment. “I do have an awareness, enough to know that when people hear that I’d be picked for this, they would say, ‘What?’,” Rudd told People. But, he added, “I’m going to lean into it hard. I’m going to own this… I’m getting business cards made. But all of my friends will destroy me and I expect them to.”

He even turned the whole thing into a bit on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, where Rudd allowed the host to put him through a gauntlet of “sexy man” tests to prove his worth.

And that’s why literally everyone’s onboard with this decision.
Exactly. Because Paul Rudd gets the goofy absurdity of the whole thing. Plus, he’s a nontraditional choice. I mean, I don’t know if Rudd has washboard abs under his polite button-ups, but this seems a win for endearing, unpretentious, lowkey charisma over, say, a chiselled jawline.

Ouch.
Sorry, Paul Rudd – you know what I mean. To borrow a phrase I personally can’t relate to, he’s more than just a pretty face.

So how did we get here? How did Paul Rudd become the world’s sexiest man?
Sheer charm, a through-line across his 30-odd year career. If you think about it, his breakout role as Josh in Clueless (1995) was remarkable – he ended the film hooking up with his young stepsister and we all walked out of the theatres swooning. Which other male actor could’ve pulled that off?

It’s almost creepy how not-creepy he made that feel.
His late ’90s arthouse career, appearing in a bunch of forgotten indie films (The Size of Watermelons on VHS, I will find you again someday), then gave him some counter-culture cred and alt-Hollywood heartthrob appeal. You can almost picture a parallel universe where, rather than becoming a blockbuster A-lister, Paul Rudd is just a charming “that guy” in endless bit parts, the equivalent of a Donal Logue or Steve Zahn. There’s something underdog-ish about his huge success that’s also appealing.

And then came his comedy renaissance.
Yes, around the same time he started playing Phoebe’s boyfriend on Friends (2002-04), his hilarious turns in Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Anchorman (2004), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Role Models (2008) and I Love You, Man (2009), often ironically playing with fractured masculinity, made him one of cinema’s most naturally funny drawcards. Surely I’m not the only person who replays his iconic dish-throwing tantrum or “slappa da bass” in their minds endlessly?

And now as Ant-Man, he’s somehow become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster franchise.
We don’t need to talk about the Marvel movies.

What about the memes then?
It’s kind of amazing that in his 50s he’s become the internet’s boyfriend, too. You can be guaranteed that every April 6, his birthday, a viral meme will do the rounds on Twitter asking if Paul Rudd is a vampire or pondering where he keeps his stash from the fountain of youth.

There’s also his infamous appearance on buffalo wings-eating show Hot Ones, which has spawned one of social media’s most enduring, and infinitely useful, memes (the one where he goes, “Hey, look at us”.).

I was already convinced, but you’ve confirmed it: Paul Rudd really is the sexiest man alive.
Finally, something we can all agree on.

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