Paul Rudd is so nervous about meeting Don Rickles that he almost chokes on his steak dinner at West Hollywood’s Dan Tana’s restaurant. But his uncertainty of what’s to come from Don is also the very reason why Paul said “yes” to his Dinner with Don meal. Because, to be roasted by Tinseltown’s very own master of the roast is something Paul fully expects and has been looking forward to. So if Don’s serving up zingers, Paul’s in for seconds.
After Paul’s premeal jitters wear off, the dinner portion of the evening settles in to their shared stories and love of acting. Paul tells Don that they both attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the oldest acting school in America, and a special place for both of them that lists Grace Kelly, Kirk Douglas and Robert Redford as famous alums. The conversation continues with heartfelt and funny stories of their boyhood bar mitzvahs, how Don feels about being immortalized as a potato — that’s Mr. Potato Head, in Pixar’s Toy Story — and the secrets of both a strong marriage and a funny tweet.
As the meal draws to a close, Paul’s early threat to start insulting himself no longer applies, as Don shares the kind of knowledge that only seven decades in the biz can teach. He tells Paul the secret to a long career in entertainment isn’t doing what everyone else expects, it’s about taking on projects and roles that make you happy.
For two men who had never met when they first sat down for dinner, it sure feels like their new friendship is one to treasure.
Watch 'Dinner with Don'
The series was produced by AARP Studios, Winbrook Entertainment and Stamper Lumber Company.