Paul Rudd didn’t start out at an Ant-Man level, nor even at a Brian Fantana level, of acting. He didn’t emerge fully formed in 1995’s Clueless, either. Not hardly. Instead, this dangerously affable everyman gradually gained America’s trust over the course of the 1990s through his work in film, theater, and especially television. Long before the days of Alicia Silverstone and Sex Panther, Rudd was laboring in the trenches of episodic TV (with recurring roles on Sisters and Wild Oats) and commercials. Back in 1991, when the first George Bush was still president, Rudd managed to book a 30-second spot for Super Nintendo. The console wars were in full swing back then, and Nintendo decided that what it needed to compete with Sega was a little of the signature Rudd charm. That commercial has recently resurfaced, as these things tend to do. Here’s Rudd looking essentially the same as he does in 2016, except his hair isn’t floppy now. Those sparking green eyes and boyish smile, though? Same as they ever were.
The commercial may seem disjointed and bizarre to the modern viewer, but it’s fairly standard and even restrained for a hypercaffeinated, totally aggro 1990s video game commercial. Rudd, wearing a trench coat over his pink T-shirt and jeans, walks over to an abandoned drive-in movie theater, an establishment Nintendo no doubt helped put out of business. There, amid the fog and debris, he plays some classic games like F-Zero, Pilotwings, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, and SimCity on what used to be a movie screen. Meanwhile, a deep-voiced narrator makes vaguely threatening, masculinity-challenging statements like, “When you decide to get serious, there’s only one place to come.” Whatever Rudd’s doing must be working, because by the commercial’s end, he has attracted a horde of zombielike followers to the theater. There’s only one console, though, not nearly enough for everyone, so what happens next is anyone’s guess. Tickle fight?
For those itching for more vintage Rudd, here he is in 1992, shilling for Toyota. Martin Sheen was the company’s narrator in those pre-West Wing days. As for Rudd, he was experimenting with combing his hair straight back. Meh. Let those locks flow free, sir.