Rubrene is one of the most studied molecular semiconductors; its chemical structure consists of a tetracene backbone with four phenyl rings appended to the two central fused rings. Derivatization of these phenyl rings can lead to two very different solid-state molecular conformations and packings: One in which the tetracene core is planar and there exists substantive overlap among neighboring π-conjugated backbones; and another where the tetracene core is twisted and the overlap of neighboring π-conjugated backbones is completely disrupted. State-of-the-art electronic-structure calculations show for all isolated rubrene derivatives that the twisted conformation is more favorable (by -1.7 to -4.1 kcal mol-1), which is a consequence of energetically unfavorable exchange-repulsion interactions among the phenyl side groups. Calculations based on available crystallographic structures reveal that planar conformations of the tetracene core in the solid state result from intermolecular interactions that can be tuned through well-chosen functionalization of the phenyl side groups, and lead to improved intermolecular electronic couplings. Understanding the interplay of these intramolecular and intermolecular interactions provides insight into how to chemically modify rubrene and similar molecular semiconductors to improve the intrinsic materials electronic properties.