What do Ant-Man and Mike Hannigan have in common? Well, other then the fact they're played by the same actor, probably not much. But, according to Paul Rudd, filming Avengers: Endgame and Friends were pretty similar experiences, however. Rudd, of course, joined the beloved NBC sitcom during its next to last season as a love interest for Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe Buffay in 2002 and will take flight in the Avengers film franchise for Endgame later this month.
"It's the one experience I could say felt a little similar, where I kind of join this group... even though I used 'join' in quotes — it was like, I get to act in scenes with some iconic characters and actors in the Avengers and it felt a little bit like that, where I came onto Friends, and it was season nine," the actor told Entertainment Tonight in a recent interview.
Calling his appearance in less than 20 of Friends' 236 total episodes "massive for me," Rudd also had a super humble assessment of starring on the show alongside Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer.
"I had never been a part of anything that had that kind of viewership," he added to ET. "Everybody was very nice, but I never could quite get over the fact that I was sitting in Central Perk, and I just really didn't want to get in the way. I knew no one was tuning in for Mike Hannigan, so I was like, 'Oh wow, I'm just going to sit back and kind of observe and enjoy this ride."
Either way, he clearly made an impression on Friends viewers. Aside from his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rudd admitted to GMA's Robin Roberts last year that it's one of the few characters fan recognize him for while he's out and about in public. As he explained, "It's changed over time. Usually if I'm walking down the street now, people just go, 'Ant-Man.' And then every once in a while they'll say, 'Slap the bass.' ... And then sometimes I'll get, 'How's Phoebe?' Those are the only three." (For those who don't already know, "slap the bass" refers to his character, Peter Klaven, in 2009's I Love You, Man.)
Rudd first got to be part of the Avengers ensemble when he appeared in 2016's Captain America: Civil War — so he's not totally a newbie. When Endgame premieres on April 26, the real new kid on the block will be Brie Larson AKA Captain Marvel herself, who actually filmed Endgame before she shot Captain Marvel. According to Rudd, she fit in just fine, though.
"Brie is so, so cool," he added to ET. "Not just her character, but how she is kind of handling the situation. [She] kind of stepped into everything pretty easily, I think."
Either way, Larson has admitted to feeling the gravity of joining the established Marvel cast. “[Endgame] will always be personally dear to me because it is my first time playing Captain Marvel,” Larson shared during a recent press event, per Entertainment Weekly. “I had to stumble and try to figure out who this character was with no script for this, and no script for Captain Marvel either, and perform for the first time in front of legends.”
With less than two weeks to go before fans assemble to see Endgame for the first time in theaters, both Rudd and Larson will surely be embraced, no matter how long it took them to make their Avengers debuts.