Rudin lives in New York City with his longtime partner John Barlow, a Broadway theatre publicist and founding partner of Barlow/Hartman Public Relations.
After his stint at Edgar J. Sherick Associates, Rudin formed his own outfit, Scott Rudin Productions. His first film under that banner was Gillian Armstrong's Mrs. Soffel (1984). But, not long after, Rudin placed his production shingle in dormancy and joined 20th Century-Fox as an executive producer. At Fox, he met Jonathan Dolgen, a higher-level executive, with whom he would be working once again at Paramount Pictures years later. Rudin swiftly rose through the ranks at Fox and became president of production by 1986 at the age of 29. His stint at the top of Fox was short lived though, and he soon left and entered into a producing deal with Paramount.
His deal with Tri-Star, however, was brief, and he soon moved back to Paramount under even more agreeable terms. Rudin's first look deal with Paramount Pictures lasted nearly fifteen years, ending in 2005. The terms of his contract granted him money to cover the overhead for Scott Rudin Productions and its 15 to 20-odd employees, along with a $3 million discretionary fund and a 7.5% cut of the back-end gross income.
After the resignation of Paramount's chairwoman, Sherry Lansing in 2004, and nearly simultaneous departure of Jonathan Dolgen (then president of the company), Rudin left the studio and set a five-year first-look pact with Disney that allowed him to make movies under their labels Touchstone Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films. Although he had an often contentious relationship with Lansing, particularly at the end of her tenure when Paramount struggled for a single hit movie, her departure -- along with Dolgen's, helped instigate his move. Even though Rudin was not always fond of Lansing's later-term decisions, he still knew her well and had formed an amiable relationship with her -- more than could be said of his connections with the studio's incoming higher-ups.
Another significant reason for Rudin's departure was it allowed him to channel his more arty fare through Disney's Miramax Films subsidiary. Since Harvey and Bob Weinstein had left Miramax, the company they founded in 1979, Rudin felt he would be free at Disney to utilize its resources. Laura M. Holson of The New York Times wrote on April 21, 2005: "Rudin is likely to fill the gap [left by the departure of Harvey and Bob Weinstein] by providing the sort of high-quality, offbeat art films that Disney has struggled to create on its own.
When the Weinsteins were running Miramax and its sister label Dimension Films, however, Harvey Weinstein and Rudin, two of the hottest heads on Hollywood, had public confrontations during the production of The Hours (2002), which Rudin produced for Miramax Films after it became a "mini-major" studio subsidiary under Disney.
Rudin said, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, "There is one shop in town [Miramax] that is making challenging movies. I think it's incredible that he [Weinstein] has found a way to run a business making these kind of movies." However, "we are both control freaks. We both want to run our own shows. When I'm doing a Miramax movie, I work for him. And I don't like that feeling. I chafe under that. I especially chafe under it when I feel that I'm on a leash.
In fact, public spats between the two drifted into personal territory at times, such as the more memorable incident in which Rudin had his assistants goad Weinstein with innumerable cigarette cartons during one of the Miramax topper's attempts to quit smoking.
Consequently, after the Weinsteins' departure, the idea of becoming a top producer for the Miramax label was perhaps enticing. He would have free rein over the mini-major the Weinsteins nurtured for so many years, and the brothers would be unable to intercede.
Rudin had a string of box-office failures in the early nineties, highlighted by White Sands (1992, with Willem Dafoe and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), Jennifer 8 (1992, with Andy Garcia and Uma Thurman) and Life with Mikey (1993). All three movies struggled among that year's competitive summer slate. However, Rudin was soon redeemed by the star-studded legal thriller The Firm (1993), which was his most profitable movie to date with a $270,248,367 worldwide gross, and Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), which garnered critical acclaim. Surprisingly, shortly before Bobby Fischer was released, Fischer himself, the renowned young chess prodigy, popped out of hiding in Yugoslavia after 20 years in seclusion. At the time, Rudin was quoted by Army Archerd of Variety as saying, "I'm not concerned [about the reemergence of Fischer]. It can only be good, to help publicize the picture... He [Fischer] is never seen in the movie--he never appears.
Subsequently, Rudin oversaw production of the romantic comedy I.Q. (1994), starring Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins; the Paul Newman film Nobody's Fool (1994); the dark horse hit Clueless (1995), a breakout movie for Alicia Silverstone; and Sydney Pollack's remake, Sabrina (1995). In 1996, he produced The First Wives Club, a hit comedy starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton. Keaton was also in Albert Brooks' Mother (1996, with Debbie Reynolds) and alongside Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro in Marvin's Room (1996), a film that also featured a young Leonardo DiCaprio playing an emotionally disturbed boy. Both were produced by Rudin. Later in '96, Rudin teamed with producer Brian Grazer on Ron Howard's Ransom, which starred Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Gary Sinise. Grazer had to get an exemption from his deal at Universal Pictures to join Rudin on that project, which has been the only movie the two powerhouse producers have worked on together.
Along with Robert Redford, Rudin also co-produced Steven Zaillian's adaptation of Jonathan Hare's non-fiction book A Civil Action (1998), starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall. In the movie, the two stars play opposing lawyers, who represent the residents of Woburn, Mass., on the one hand, and the multi-million dollar corporations, Beatrice Foods and Grace Industries, on the other. The film dramatizes events of the lawsuit, which produced the largest environmental out-of-court settlement in Massachusetts history, at a total of $69.4 million.
Through the nineties, Rudin was a prolific producer, putting together movies that include the following: In & Out (1997), starring Kevin Klein; the hit movie, The Truman Show (1998), with Jim Carrey; the Matt Stone and Trey Parker-developed movies, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) and Team America: World Police (2004); Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead (1999); Sleepy Hollow (1999), with Johnny Depp; Wonder Boys (2000), starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire, based on the award-winning novel by Michael Chabon; Shaft (2000), the remake with Samuel L. Jackson; the hit comedy, Zoolander (2001), starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson; three of Wes Anderson's arthouse, ensemble-cast hits The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), and The Darjeeling Limited (2007); the well-received Jack Black starrer School of Rock (2003); Orange County (2002) written by The School of Rock writer, Mike White; The Manchurian Candidate (2004) with Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber; Richard Eyre's Iris (2001), starring Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent, the latter of whom won an Oscar for his supporting role in the film; The Stepford Wives (2004), starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken and Bette Middler; M. Night Shyamalan's The Village (2004), with Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver; David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees (2004), with Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, Mark Wahlberg and Naomi Watts ; Mike Nichols' Closer (2004), starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), starring Jim Carey, Jude Law and Meryl Streep (2004); Freedomland (2006), with Samuel L. Jackson; and Failure to Launch (2006), starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey; among many others.
His most recent films include Notes on a Scandal (2006), starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench and based on the best-selling book What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal; Venus (2006), starring Peter O'Toole; and The Queen (2006), starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, a role that won her an Oscar for Best Actress. O'Toole and Dench were also nominated for Oscars in the 2006-2007 season for their leading roles in their respective films. Only Mirren won. Notes on a Scandal received three other Oscar nominations: Blanchett for supporting role, Patrick Marber for Best Adapted Screenplay and Philip Glass Academy Award for Best Original Score. Most notably, The Queen was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, along with Stephen Frears for Best Director, and Peter Morgan for Best Original Screenplay. He will possibly take part in Paramount Pictures' 2009 musical remake of Footloose starring Zac Efron.
In 2007 Rudin produced the movie Margot at the Wedding, a tragicomedy about a dysfunctional family starring Nicole Kidman, Jack Black and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited.
Rudin is developing adaptations of the novels The Corrections, Special Topics in Calamity Physics and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. He is also in various stages of production on the following projects, among many others: The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the best-selling novel of the same name and starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana; Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, with Anna Paquin; David Gordon Green's The Goat; an untitled Alan Ball project; and a Wes Anderson picture, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the latter of which is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name and starring George Clooney, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett and Jason Schwartzman.
In January 2008, two of Rudin's productions -- the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, which they adapted from the Cormac McCarthy book of the same name, and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, which he adapted from the Upton Sinclair novel, Oil! -- were nominated for eight Oscars a piece at the 2008 Academy Awards, including a Best Picture nod for each of them. The two films shared the distinction of being the most nominated movie at that years Oscar ceremony. Ultimately, No Country for Old Men won the Best Picture prize, and Rudin and Joel and Ethan Coen were each awarded an Oscar statuette for the achievement.