Here is a horrible video of a violent homophobe getting into an altercation at DFW International Airport last Thursday. Apparently the man didn’t like the color of another man’s shirt, began yelling homophobic slurs at him, and then kicked him and attempted to punch him.
The incident was quickly broken up by a group of passers-by at the airport, who tackled the aggressor and held him for a moment until police arrived to arrest him. The entire affair is extremely awkward and, for some reason, the Internet yesterday decided that the final man to jump into the pile was beloved Hollywood actor Paul Rudd.
It started as a bit of Reddit-style sleuthing from New York comedian Sara Benincasa, who attempted to confirm her suspicion that all handsome, dark-haired men are Paul Rudd via Twitter. One of her followers apparently searched “Paul Rudd flight” on Twitter, found a woman who also believed that all handsome, dark-haired men are Paul Rudd, and then the Internet briefly considered that sufficient corroboration to roll with “Paul Rudd tackled that guy at the airport” as fact.
Things got a bit embarrassing after it left the “idle afternoon hobby of comedians and their fans on Twitter” realm and drifted into the world of being reported on occasionally-legitimate news websites. Wonkette ran with the story based on Benincasa’s tweets, reporting that the guy in the jacket and checked shirt was Rudd, without verifying that with, say, Rudd’s publicist. The Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, did make that call, resulting in one of the funnier journalistic mea culpas in recent memory:
UPDATE AND RECANTATION! Paul Rudd’s publicist has apparently told The Hollywood Reporter that nuh uh. Stupid publicist. Which kind of makes us wish we’d hedged at least a little — like a Fox News question mark in the title — but we did not. I will blame “pregnancy brain” for every dumb thing I do for the next seven months. But at least we didn’t say he had WMDs.
Anyway, that publicist is probably lying.
That last line is intriguing, though. Because beloved actor Paul Rudd is beloved, in part, because of his approachability and down-to-earth charm. He’s the sort of movie star that people genuinely believe they would probably be friends with if they knew him in real life—the kind who became a star not because of his magnetic, McConaughey/Clooney/Jolie/Roberts-like “are they gods among us” appeal, but because he’s able to portray the sort of characters we wish we were. And would a guy like that really claim credit for tackling a violent man shouting homophobic slurs and attacking strangers at the airport? Or would he deflect that attention to focus on the real heroes—the ordinary folks who stepped up when necessary to lend a hand?
Lending credence to that theory (but not really) is this report from Jezebel that claims to have identified the real guy who looks a little bit like Paul Rudd in the video:
We’ve been contacted in the comments and via Twitter by the friends of the real Not Paul Rudd! His name is Ben Kravit, he lives in Dallas, and like everyone else involved in tackling this idiot, he seems like a good dude. Good work, Ben! Good work everyone! Except you, airport gay-basher. You need to sort your life out, seriously.
The Dallas Observer further abets the “this is some guy named Ben” theory by linking to his Facebook profile, where—while looking undeniably Ruddy—he does things like pose with a lady outside of the McCombs School of Business in a cap and gown and celebrate the 2013 World Series victory of the Boston Red Sox, even though Rudd is one of the nation’s more famous Kansas City Royals fans.
But if you think about it for a moment—wouldn’t it be just like the version of Paul Rudd that lives inside of all of our hearts to create an imaginary Facebook profile for a fake guy named Ben in order to show us all that he really is just like us, and that we, too, are capable of Paul Rudd-like feats of heroics?
With that in mind, we’re going to choose to label this as “inconclusive” for the time being. Who knows how much of an “inspiring the people” mastermind Paul Rudd really is?
Update (10/29): Jezebel has a brief interview with the man mistaken for Rudd, one “Ben Kravit,” who, if this isn’t all an elaborate ruse, talks about the kick he’s getting out of the mistaken identity—not the first time it’s happened to him—and how surprised he was that nobody stepped up at the airport until it got violent.