No, you haven’t over cocktailed, you are seeing double of Paul Rudd. His new Netflix show, Living With Yourself, dropped over the weekend. It’s billed as a comedy but it’s definitely a dramady. The show looks at the existential ramifications of what happens when your one mind is split into two physical manifestations of your body. That’s a heavy lift for a comedy.
Essentially, Paul’s character, Miles, is in a deep personal and professional rut. A coworker refers him to a very pricy spa that promises to refresh your DNA and make you the best version of yourself. But what they do is clone you, turning the happy, non-jaded clone into the world and sending the original to a shallow grave. But original Miles survives and comes back to confront his clone.
The two try to have it all, but there are all sorts of resentments, complications, and betrayals. While some of this is played for laughs, the show manages to use the comedy to make us look at what it means to be human, and if only a happy, innocent part of ourselves can be truly fulfilling to the human experience. I highly recommend. And I got to talk with Paul about the show.
“I started reading it and was sucked in immediately. I thought this was really clever and interesting, and I didn’t know where it was gonna go.” I got the same feeling as I watched the first episode. But Paul’s (and my) fears were quickly put to rest. “And my fear was ‘oh I’m gonna like the writing, it’s gonna be funny but it’s gonna be one of those things that’s hinging on a secret. The shoe is gonna drop in the last episode of the show and all hell’s gonna break loose.’”
Using the two bodies of one mind is a great story telling technique, if done well, and it is here. “And also the devices as a writer are quite unique. They don’t hit you over the head. It’s not like ‘now from another person’s perspective.’” It’s very gently done. And you sort of roll with it. I think Val and John, the directors, come from a film/music video background. And it feels like a movie. The scripts were readable like a book or a movie. You want to get to it and drives towards it.” And Paul credits the writer for giving him juicy material times two. “I thought Tim Greenberg, who was the writer, did such a masterful job creating this unique, existential story. But not obvious at any step of the way. As I was reading it, it kept going in places that I wasn’t expecting it to. By the time I get to the third episode, well, cat’s out of that bag. And so I was really sucked into it in a way that I didn’t anticipate. How are they gonna get themselves out of this scenario?”
3D x 2
The key to this show, and Paul’s roles, is to make both versions of Miles simultaneously sympathetic and vulnerable, even if one is being a jerk and the other is clueless. “I think it’s just the convention that the show’s hinged on that, and the idea of these two different parts. Playing any kind of human being, you’re playing, hopefully, a three-dimensional complex person. If anything, playing two actual different characters, certain challenges just came about because of just time allowed on the technical side of it. It’s also a fun way to explore those different sides of the same person.”
And that means giving more attention to every little detail of every little action each Miles performs. “It was kinda great for me to be able to latch on to something. How does this physically manifest itself? How would this character sit in a chair? How would this character care about how he looked?”
Split The Vote?
The case can be made that this isn’t Paul’s best performance, but that it’s his two best performances. So before I got kicked out for going over my time, I had to ask if he’s worried that he’ll be nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy EMMY for Miles and Clone Miles, and lose out because he split the vote. “That’s my number one concern.”
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Go to your bar and pick out your favorite spirit. Then make it a double.