With his delightful demeanor and nearly-immortal good looks, Paul Rudd has become a treasure within the entertainment industry. The actor has committed to roles in the Ant-Man and Wet Hot American Summer franchises -- but arguably not as much as he's committed to his regular bit on Conan. For two decades now, Rudd has chosen to nonchalantly set up a clip for whatever project he's promoting -- only for it to be the same sequence from the 1988 cult classic Mac and Me. The clip follows the main human protagonist, Eric (Jade Calegory), as his wheelchair plunges down a steep hill and into a lake nearby. This prompts a confused reaction from Mac, the "Mysterious Alien Creature" who has gravitated towards Eric's family since landing on Earth.
During a recent appearance on O'Brien's podcast, Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, Rudd explained exactly how exactly the bit came about, and what transfixed him about the bizarre movie to begin with.
"There's something so tricky about 'Oh, here I am. I'm going to sell my wares on TV. Like oh, here's something from what I just filmed.' It just seemed - and still does, to a large extent - kind of insincere," Rudd explained. "And so, to me, this is like 'People are watching this and it's all just silly anyway. This entire business is silly.' So that was one where I've seen the whole movie… I remember watching it, kind of stumbling across it on TV, and there's a scene where it's like the alien raids this kid's house, kind of exactly like ET did, and then he goes out and he's looking for this — I guess what he assumes is an alien or something that was in his house. And then the alien is up in the tree looking at him. And then this Peter Cetera-sounding song about best friends kicks in, and it's totally unearned. They don't even know each other. I remember being like 'What?! This is the greatest thing I've ever seen.' And so I think that when I started - and this was early in your show - [thinking] 'I'm just going to show a clip from something else.'"
"And another one that I had been toying with was from the movie Baby Geniuses," Rudd continued. "Which, I don't know if you've seen Baby Geniuses. Baby Geniuses is another one of those movies that you watch and say 'Who was this made for? Like what age? I don't even know what the target audience is. But they're essentially all babies who know the secrets of the universe and can talk to one another before they turn two, where they forget it. And as they start to talk, it goes away. But there's this scene where a baby - I want to say they have this super baby in a lab, I don't know - and he escapes, and this team of thugs are trying to track him down, trying to get this baby. And then they cut to the baby fighting a group of men, and it's clearly a stunt little person just beating up these guys. And there's also, I assume the budget was so low that there was this one maniacal laugh that the kid makes, and every time in the movie, they just use the same laugh. And so you hear it a hundred times."
While that sequence certainly sounds pretty bizarre in its own right, fans have become pretty thankful that Rudd chose Mac and Me, as it's put the bizarre E.T.-like film on many more people's radar. As Rudd revealed, there was one time he broke the Mac and Me tradition, after Judd Apatow convinced him to promote the project at hand.
"I showed the clip, but then there was another time where he came and stopped it," Rudd revealed. "It was the one time that I think I actually showed the real clip on your show. I just feel so gross telling anyone to go see [whatever I'm promoting], like 'Here's the real thing!' And Judd said 'Dude.' But then, to be fair, I then did more movies with Judd, and he was just like 'Whatever.'"
What do you think of Rudd's explanation for his decades-long Mac and Me joke? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!