Before Stephen Colbert revealed to Paul Rudd on Tuesday night whether he was People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2021, the actor had to prove that he was indeed sexy in a series of “sexiness tests” on Colbert late-night show. The greatest test of them all came when the 52-year-old “Ant-Man” star graciously accepted that he might not be the Sexiest Man Alive — a reaction that “clinched” the title for Colbert.
“Don’t you see, Paul? There’s nothing sexier than humility,” Colbert said in the sketch. “That was the last test — and you passed, Paul — you passed. You’re sexy! Paul, you’re the Sexiest Man Alive.”
Rudd, arguably one of the funniest and friendliest leading men in Hollywood, was named Sexiest Man Alive for 2021 by People magazine. He takes over the honor from actor Michael B. Jordan, who was awarded the title last year.
The actor told People he was humbled and surprised by the honor.
“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. “This is not false humility. There are so many people that should get this before me.”
Yet Rudd joked he was “going to lean into” the title of Sexiest Man Alive.
“I’m going to own this. I’m not going to try to be like ‘Oh, I’m so modest.’ I’m getting business cards made,” he told the magazine. “But all of my friends will destroy me and I expect them to. And that’s why they’re my friends.”
Rudd has been a Hollywood mainstay since his breakout role in the 1995 romantic comedy “Clueless.” His roles in TV series and films like “Friends,” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “This Is 40” earned him high marks for his comedic wit — and for what fans say is his ability to never age.
He entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Ant-Man in 2015, a blockbuster role he’s held ever since. His next turn in the role will be in 2023 for “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Rudd will be seen next in the film “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which premieres this month, as well the Apple TV Plus series “The Shrink Next Door.”
On “The Late Show,” Colbert jokingly said the question surrounding Sexiest Man Alive was “the last thing that all Americans care about.” In the case of Rudd, Colbert, a self-proclaimed “sexiness adjudicator,” put the actor through an intellectual assessment before moving onto a physical examination — one that included the late-night host running his fingers through Rudd’s full head of hair.
Soon, Rudd found himself being judged as if he were at the Westminster Dog Show, and later posed as a monk and construction worker to prove he could look sexy in any outfit. The photo shoot ended with Colbert making Rudd pour a gallon of water over his head as he said, “Help me, I’m drowning in sexiness.”
When Colbert “revealed” to Rudd that he was the Sexiest Man Alive, the actor, who began to ugly cry in the sketch, was given a bouquet of flowers, a sash and a tiara as confetti fell from above.
Rudd told People that he’s happiest around his family — Julie, 53, his wife of 18 years, and their two children, Jack, 17, and Darby, 12. He said his wife, who was the only person he told ahead of the announcement, was “stupefied.”
“But you know she was very sweet about it. After some giggling and shock, she said, ‘Oh, they got it right.’ And that was very sweet,” he told the magazine. “She was probably not telling the truth, but what’s she going to say?”
Still, Rudd joked that he expects much to change now that he’s joined the Sexiest Man Alive club with past winners like actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
“I’m hoping now that I’ll finally be invited to some of those sexy dinners with Clooney and Pitt and [Jordan],” he said to the magazine. “And I figure I’ll be on a lot more yachts. I’m excited to expand my yachting life. And I’ll probably try to get better at brooding in really soft light. I like to ponder. I think this is going to help me become more inward and mysterious. And I’m looking forward to that.”