“I had never done anything like it,” Rudd, 50, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I think any actor wants to challenge themselves and try new things, and certainly I viewed it as that.”
In the eight-episode dramedy series, created by Tim Greenberg, Rudd stars as Miles Elliot, a depressed man frustrated with his life who undergoes an experimental spa treatment in hopes of becoming happy. The treatment involves him being cloned and replaced with a new and improved version of himself while his original self is killed — but the procedure goes wrong, leaving two Mileses fighting for one life.
That premise meant Rudd needed to play two people in dozens of scenes, which led to some logistical issues on set, as he didn’t use an acting partner or body double for the majority of the shoot and relied on an earwig to listen back to the lines he had done as the other character.
“One of the challenges was being able to figure out eye lines and how to react off of something that I was just imagining, and obviously that changes when you have to do the second character,” says Rudd. “The ultimate goal was people would be able to tell which character was onscreen, even when the other character wasn’t, knowing that the differences between the two had to be subtle.”
Although Rudd’s character(s) is the star of the show, Living With Yourself also deals heavily with his marriage to his wife, Kate, played by Aisling Bea, and their struggles with infertility. Rudd, who is an executive producer on the series, says he immediately was drawn to the way the series reveals different perspectives in each episode. He was especially interested in the fact that Kate is a “very layered and real and multidimensional character,” the star says. “If one character is really, really fleshed out and the others are just kind of placeholders and there to just react and you feel as though they don’t have a life, that’s just faulty writing across the board. I think Tim did a very clever thing by showing that every character in this show has a life and an opinion about something and/or reactions to things that are not only relatable, but empathetic.”
Living With Yourself also features a surprise appearance from a well-known name: Tom Brady, who plays himself and is leaving the spa at the same time Rudd’s character is going in for his life-changing treatment. Brady reveals that it’s his sixth visit, a joke alluding to the New England Patriots quarterback’s six Super Bowl rings and hinting that he has only maintained this level of excellence through cloning.
Following the show’s Oct. 18 debut on Netflix, the joke took on a life of its own, with some on social media interpreting it as a dig at Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was charged with soliciting prostitution from a Florida spa in February. Brady was questioned about the cameo’s deeper meaning in a postgame interview and denied any tie between the joke and the Kraft situation. That’s something Rudd reinforces, saying Greenberg had written the quarterback into the scene four years ago.
“It’s upsetting and I think it’s a bit unfair because he was always in this script. We sent him the scripts before we even started shooting this thing, before anything happened,” says Rudd. “Tom Brady doesn’t do a lot of stuff, and I thought he was really cool because the whole joke was, ‘I will come in and do this thing,’ because he’s poking fun at himself and the idea of perfection and being a clone. He’s been unfairly maligned for it or [people have] tried to make a story out of something that isn’t a story.”
As far as another season goes, Living With Yourself‘s future remains unclear (Rudd says he sees the first season as a complete story, while Greenberg has said he has ideas for future seasons should Netflix renew it). Whether the story continues, Rudd, who has enjoyed a long career of notable supporting roles, is in his busiest acting stretch yet, having in the past year and half worked on the Netflix series and Marvel features Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Endgame as well as shooting the upcoming Ghostbusters movie. “I really feel fortunate and I count my blessings every day,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be a working actor, and not just a working actor but someone who gets to work on things that are important to me and that I really like, and I’ve been able to do that.”
This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.