An Interview with Steve Carrell

The story of Steve Carell’s success can be encouraging for Protestants. Achieving success in Hollywood is difficult for many due to the unusual standards, which can be almost incomprehensible. This is similar to the incomprehensible math sequences that are featured in certain films.

Steve Carell’s trajectory to success was relatively straightforward: he was passionate about something, recognized it as a talent, and then worked hard on it for a lengthy period of time.

He began with a role in the touring company at Chicago’s Second City, and went on to be featured in The Dana Carvey Show and The Daily Show.

Subsequently, he achieved greater fame with his iconic performance in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, appearing on the poster with the expression of a leader and a student at the same time.

His career reached its peak with his starring role in The Office, garnering him a Golden Globe and a massive fan base. Throughout his journey to the top, Carell’s success remained low-key and without any major controversies.

In the opening scene of Crazy, Stupid, Love, Steve Carell’s character is informed by his wife (played by Julianne Moore) that she has been unfaithful. As the guilt of her confession grows, she relays the embarrassing particulars to Carell as he silently pleads for her to stop.

Then, without warning, Carell opens the passenger door and jumps out of the moving car. My reaction to this was not one of horror, but one of understanding. Carell’s true talent lies in his ability to make the most outrageous decisions appear to be the only logical ones.

I spent two hours with Carell in his office on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. He was very hospitable, and seemed uncomfortable when I asked him questions about his accomplishments.

At the end of our conversation, he pointed to the glass containers filled with chocolates and Red Vines on the coffee table and said, “Please, take some candy!” I grabbed some Reese’s peanut butter cups and he jokingly apologized for not having a lottery scratcher to offer me, which he usually stores in a jar near the candy.

–Kathryn Borel spoke of how it is important to recognize that the media has a huge influence on our lives and our values. She explained that it helps to shape our perspectives and our ideas of what is normal and acceptable.

It is evident that the media has a powerful effect on who we are and what we think is right. According to Borel, the media can shape how we perceive the world and how we form our beliefs and values.

She pointed out that it is essential to be aware of this influence and to be mindful of the messages we are receiving from the media.

I. FATHER IN TEARS

The movie Crazy, Stupid, Love brought me to tears. Every time tears welled up in your eyes, I found myself weeping as well. Initially, I wondered if it was your facial expression that was causing me to cry, or if it was the sorrowful look in your eyes.

But then I realized that perhaps it was because of the role you played as a father and that seeing a father cry is one of the most heartbreaking sights.

Steve Carell commented that traditionally, fathers have been viewed as an unchanging rock; he personally only witnessed his dad crying twice in his life. He added with a laugh that it was a strange concept.

Question:At what point in time?

Answer:When I left for college, my parents were very encouraging and thrilled for me. Subsequently, my mother told me that when they drove away, she noticed my father had tears in his eyes.

This was a powerful moment for me, because my father had always seemed so strong and composed throughout my life.

BLVR: Good fatherhood was once characterized by strength and resilience.

My father exemplified that sentiment.

BLVR: Was your father a native English speaker?

SC: No, Italian. Our family used to have the surname Caroselli, which translates to “wild horses.” [ Laughs ] We are trying to distance ourselves from our ancestral roots.

BLVR: When did you observe your father crying?

SC: I had a golden retriever, named Stewart, for eleven years before he was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles, married, and had an infant daughter named Annie.

I took Stewart back to Massachusetts and my dad accompanied me when I had to let him go. He was very comforting, but when I looked up as I was cradling Stewart’s body, I saw tears running down his face.

BLVR: Was he uneasy when he shed tears?

SC: It wasn’t in his nature to be expressive with his feelings. He was brought up to believe that was the expected behavior for a man. As a result, it makes it all the more powerful when someone who acts as a dad figure displays emotion in public.

Question:When you decided to pursue theater as one of the most expressive occupations, what was his reaction?

SC: My parents were incredibly supportive of me when I was preparing to apply to law school and had difficulty writing the essay.

They were from the Depression era, and their approach to raising their children was to make do with what they had and to live within their means.

However, they encouraged me to go against that and to instead pursue whatever would make me happy. They reminded me that it was my life and that I should follow my heart.

BLVR: That opinion is not often held.

SC: That is the kind of thing your eccentric aunt would likely say.

Remembering back to high-school, there was likely an art teacher who could be thought of.

SC: “Come here and I’ll tell you something!” But it’s not common for someone to be given the go-ahead to act on these impulses. I’m sure they had worries. However, I was incredibly fortunate.

II. MAN OF MIDDLE AGE ON A BICYCLE

A person of middle age was seen riding a bike. He was pedaling along the path, seemingly enjoying the scenery and the fresh air.

BLVR: Was it luck that enabled you to transition from college graduate to full-time actor in nearly four years, after having been a waiter?

Answer:I like to set achievable ambitions for myself; when I relocated to Chicago, my objective was to become a part of the Second City. Which, I’m pleased to say, I have succeeded in doing!

BLVR asked if the event occurred without delay.

In 1985, SC relocated to Chicago, and three years later they were cast in the Second City touring company. After that, they never needed to find an additional source of income.

BLVR: What kind of educator did you become in terms of improv?

SC: I was an indolent teacher. Bear in mind, certain elements of improvisation can be taught and people can improve, but I’m not sure if it can be totally learnt from the beginning. [ Pause ] Is it appropriate to liken it to art?

[ Longer pause ] Yes, it is analogous to an art form. Taking a drawing class can help if one is not that skilled, but I think an innate talent is necessary. I could discern that some people in my class had that quality…

BLVR: What is that? Is it inquisitiveness?

SC: That’s not quite right. I believe it’s the skill of listening that’s important. Lots of people would show up expecting to learn how to be humorous and make jokes.

Some even believed it was a class in comedy. But that’s not what Second City or I were teaching and it’s one of the dullest things ever to observe two people attempting to improvise “funny.”

BLVR: It’s more like talking to yourself with a specific aim in mind.

SC: Improvisation is when two people have pre-set dialogue and attempt to incorporate it into the scene. Those who went on stage with a definite character or idea, yet allowing it to be free-flowing, were the best at it.

BLVR: In contrast to stand-up comedy, performing improvisation has a sense of selflessness to it. It’s about the scene and not the individual. This brings up the inquiry of whether improv backgrounds make actors more sensitive to others. Do you think this is the case?

Answer:I don’t view improvisation and script-based acting as competing forces, but rather two different tools.

I like to think of improvisation as a training ground for actors to become better at their craft. While it can be successful as a standalone product, I was fortunate to have a Second City audience that understood it.

Question:Do audiences at improv shows exhibit more leniency?

Answer:In Chicago, Second City has been a popular venue for fifty years. Audiences there understand the difficulty of succeeding in improv, and as a result they are still supportive even when a scene doesn’t go well.

This makes it an excellent place to practice listening and understanding the basic structure of a scene, such as the beginning, middle, and end.

As an example, Tina Fey was an excellent improviser in part because of her ability to quickly get to the heart of the scene. However, improv is not something that can be commodified or marketed.

Aspiring comic actors and writers are often willing to invest a significant amount of money into classes offered by Second City.

SC: You do see a lot of this nowadays, and it seems that many people are using it as a way to be seen. When I was in college, I remember watching Second City and thinking that it looked like a lot of fun.

Because of that, I moved to Chicago instead of New York or Los Angeles. I was more interested in learning and working, not being showcased or discovered.

I felt that the competition would be much less intense than if I had gone to those two cities, and I would have been overwhelmed.

BLVR: Your approach is reflective of your professional path. It aligns with the notion that in improv, one should not be too far ahead of themselves and that a collective effort is needed more than a “Look at me!” attitude.

This works against individual aspiration, correct? Yet, you have managed to reach a certain level of success. How do you explain the contrast between these two ideas?

SC: I was incredibly fortunate to have had the ability to watch people like Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris – who were very funny, creative, intelligent, and captivating. They were also phenomenal actors and I could tell they were going to be huge successes.

A lot of those that I watched at Second City did go on to become stars, but those that didn’t don’t appear to be resentful. At the 50th reunion of Second City I was taken aback by the kindness of all the people who were there.

BLVR: What caused your surprise?

SC: Although there were some egos that could potentially lead to some tension, I never encountered it. I knew some people who were a bit grumpy, but when I returned, the atmosphere was very warm and welcoming.

The Second City was a great place to express creativity without fear of judgment. Everyone was encouraged to try out new ideas and it was all seen as part of a big experiment.

Even those who had left feeling like they weren’t given the recognition they deserved, still came back and experienced a sense of belonging. It was a beautiful thing.

Question:Have you felt secure since that time?

SC:I was incredibly fortunate with The Office and The Daily Show, since I felt secure in those environments. Even The 40-Year-Old Virgin was like this, although we had no idea how it would turn out.

It wasn’t until the first preview that we had any inkling that it would be successful. After the execs viewed the dailies, they were so concerned that they halted production during the first week.

They believed my character seemed peculiar when they saw him bicycling around, being a middle-aged man and all. Although they liked the script, they were still anxious. Judd Apatow and I, however, kept faith in what it could be and eventually they understood our vision.

3. Taking Out the Dishwasher

BLVR: Making bold decisions appears to be a common occurrence for you.

Completely agreed.

Question:Do you view soul mates as something that really exists?

SC: I certainly do.

BLVR: Was your wife predestined to be your soul mate, or did the two of you gradually become that for one another?

SC: People are often surprised when they hear that I have been with Nancy for sixteen years.

They exclaim, “That’s incredible! How have you managed to stay together that long?” To me, it sounds strange to think that any couple who has been married for sixteen years is exceptional, as if it is impossible for two people to be in a relationship for such a lengthy period, as if I am some kind of hero for making it that far…

Wearing a large emblem with the words “I adore my spouse – I’m unable to hold back!” is a BLVR.

SC: People often wonder what the key is to having a successful marriage, and I discussed this with Nancy recently.

Our conclusion was that it is all about finding the right person to marry. When we are young and naive, we don’t know the person we are with very well, so it is really just a gamble. But I took that risk with the right person, and it paid off.

BLVR: Is it essential to converse about every topic, even if it causes distress?

SC discussed how having children can make it more challenging to maintain a relationship, as they naturally become the focus.

However, they emphasized that communication is not just about talking, but also about laughing and having fun together. When asked about the most romantic gesture, they answered that the best kind are often the small, everyday ones.

BLVR: Showing clemency towards one’s mate.

SC affirms that a key aspect to a successful relationship is being mindful of your partner.

BLVR asked if there was a small action that the individual had undertaken during the week.

SC:This morning when I rose, I unloaded the dishwasher, a job my partner despises. As a kind gesture towards me, she always gets the coffee maker prepped and set to brew before I’m up.

BLVR: Whenever I was seeing the wrong guys, I would imagine my life as a small house and those men would be having a picnic on my roof, jeopardizing the solidity of my little house. Now that I’m in a healthy relationship, it’s like I have an extra column of support.

SC: Marriage gave me a sense of empowerment. When I was thirty-three and my spouse was twenty-nine, I experienced a feeling of strength and security knowing that we had each other’s backs. That feeling still remains. I absolutely love it.

BLVR: The concept of soul mates may be difficult to grapple with. If you don’t have trust in its existence, it can be quite overwhelming. Are your children confident in this notion?

SC: I would be content if my children look back and see that their parents had a strong love and admiration for each other. It’s a private matter to label somebody as your soul mate, and I do believe it, but I would never be too expressive about it.

For instance, I’m not going to give interviews and say [ seductive European voice ], “I’d like you to meet my soulmate… Nancy Carell.” My wife would definitely not be happy with that.

IV. ABSENCE OF DAMAGE

BLVR: As you walked away from the studio lot in Van Nuys after completing the seventh season of The Office in the spring, what was the prevailing emotion you experienced?

SC: I had mentally rehearsed the experience of leaving for a year, but when the time came, it felt like a blur. I had my final scene filmed, and after that they moved me to a party they had set up. I did not want to take the time to go through the set one last time.

Instead, I gave a few presents to my hair and make-up team and wardrobe assistants, then I drove off the lot honking my horn, making as much noise as I could.

BLVR: How did you feel after the experience?

SC: It was both a joy and a sorrow. Those were my companions. Leaving them was hard, I had been with them every day for seven years. The moment that was the toughest was the week after when I was back home and hadn’t been able to process everything.

When I was on set, I was only focusing on the action, not the farewell. At the gathering, they paid homage to me and the other performers put together a yearbook that included photos and keepsakes from the writers and producers.

When I went through it the next week, I found it very touching.

BLVR: Did you shed tears in that moment as a father?

SC: When I saw Paul Lieberstein–the head producer–give his homage, I had to pause because he was emotional. All the remarks were so kind.

BLVR queried if anyone had expressed something unexpected in regards to the type of individual they perceive themselves to be.

SC: It was an unexpected experience. I’m not particularly fond of being the center of attention, so it made me feel quite uncomfortable. Even for my own wedding, I just wanted to focus on Nancy. People don’t understand why, since I’m often in the public eye.

Yet, it’s different when I’m playing a role or being myself. In general, I’m quite shy and introverted. Therefore, this event was both wonderful and difficult for me, because of my shyness.

I’ve never had a celebration thrown for me before, so to see so many people gathered in my honor and hear all the nice compliments they had to say was overwhelming. It was a great group of people, nonetheless.

BLVR: It was apparent. The actors on The Office had a particular rapport between them.

Much of the success of the show can be attributed to the creator Greg Daniels. His selection of the staff was based on their capability, as well as their character. He wanted a team that was united and looked after each other.

BLVR: As your career progresses, do you need to strive to maintain your humanity?

SC: Not being a party-goer in Hollywood, I don’t get out a lot, and the people I interact with are mostly those I have worked with or families from my children’s school. However, I think I have become quite adept at understanding people, their motivations and character.

It is a privilege to be able to choose to work with those who possess both talent and pleasant personalities.

BLVR: Apatow has commented on how there doesn’t appear to be a wound in you. Where do you draw the majority of your material from? Is it from hurt, observation, delight…?

I’m always aiming to make myself chuckle through my actions. Yet, I don’t believe I comprehend it enough to discuss it.

No matter how broad or ludicrous the character is, what I’m always attempting to do is to locate something about them that is believable and realistic.

Because if you don’t think that a real person exists, then it isn’t humorous. People’s behaviors can be amusing. If you take away humanity, it’s simply something that attempts to make you laugh. And that isn’t funny.

BLVR: The root of the character you played in Anchorman was a weatherman with an IQ of forty-eight, who had a fondness for ice cream and a fancy for slacks, correct?

SC commented that the characters in that movie were absurd, as if taken out of Airplane!; there was a lack of connection to the characters, and the movie totally missed out on any sense of emotion.

BLVR: He had a certain endearment about him.

SC: Absolutely, that is due to the fact that he is convinced he is genuine. There is something special about a movie character who is not aware that they are in a movie.

Peter Sellers had the ability to portray very diverse characters and you always got the impression there was a person behind the character.

He was not attempting to make people laugh, there was no hinting and you never saw him just trying to be funny to get a guffaw. The character was desperately attempting to avoid appearing foolish, but not succeeding – and that is absolutely humorous to me.

BLVR: It is usually amusing when a character does not attain their goal, rather than when they do. Do you ever use humor to cope with or change your own suffering, such as with your family?

SC: Absolutely, but one must be vigilant when dealing with children since making a jokey expression when they had a tough day in school could be masking a more serious issue. You can’t just dismiss it with a few chuckles.

I’m always mindful of that. We still have a lot of fun together – playing and laughing a great deal at home. However, we don’t go overboard with the comedy and act as though we’re in a circus; after all, we are parents first and foremost and that remains our main focus.

Question:Do you have any funny one-liner jokes that are unique to your family?

SC: I have a joke I made up that my children find humorous and they like to play along with. I’m not exactly sure when I first started saying it, but I would [ chuckle, then sound very direct and like a news reporter ],

“We are the Carells,” and afterwards my son would say, “And we are quite cool.” [ Laughs heartily ] I really enjoy the fact that we are ” quite cool.” Not even that we are cool…

BLVR: It’s all cool, with a few conditions.

A demeanor that is both cool and humble.

BLVR: The Carells are not the type to be the center of attention at a get-together…

SC declared that an invitation would be extended to them.

BLVR: It appears that your children comprehend it.

SC: It is obvious that they understand; they have a natural ability to grasp the idea. Children have an amazing capacity to comprehend irony, something that would usually be difficult for a 6 or 9 year old to comprehend. They are both really clever.

BLVR: Are there any limits that you place on your comedy given that you have children? Charles Grodin has stated that he refuses to say anything more provocative than “Get that dog off the bed.” Do you have any similar restrictions?

SC: I’m still not sure. It’s something I decide on a case-by-case basis. I’m very aware of the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I’m willing to try things that are pushing the boundaries, but I know when I’ve gone too far.

When I was working on The Daily Show, I was conscious of not mocking those who didn’t deserve it.

My solution was to make myself more idiotic or laughable than the people I was interviewing, and to try to honor them while ridiculing the newsmagazine format and myself. Some of these people were just really innocent and unique.

For instance, the people at the Klingon convention were so friendly and doing something they enjoyed and weren’t hurting anyone. Who am I to make fun of that? Mocking is one thing, but ridiculing a person is another matter.

Question:Which character do you feel has the most humanity out of all of the roles you have portrayed?

SC: It’s challenging for me to make a judgment. I attempt to incorporate a little bit of that into all I do. When we acquired the first draft of Crazy, Stupid, Love, one thing I was adamant about was:

Here is a couple who are having issues, and I wanted there to be parity in their relationship. When there’s a difficulty in a relationship, it usually is a mutual issue. It usually affects both parties.

I said, “You need to identify where he is deficient. Of course, his wife has an affair, but there are reasons for that too.” Neither one is the antagonist. It isn’t a matter of finding out who is more correct or wrong. They both have to meet and understand why they are wrong, together.

V. GAINING A PLACE IN THE CANON

Question:Have you ever examined the features of your face that seem to work so well with the kind of comedy you perform? Does that sound a bit crazy?

SC: [Laughs] Absolutely. I took face-studying classes while I was getting my doctorate in the subject. [Laughs] If I start analyzing my face or my expressions, I think I’m going to become too self-conscious.

I don’t want to go to a mirror and practice different expressions. You don’t do that in real life–you just react to things. It’s silly to practice how you would look if someone ran over your foot.

If your character finds out his wife slept with somebody, do you go to the mirror and practice what that would look like?

It’s Possible You’ll Enjoy

Rather than relying solely on one’s own knowledge, utilizing the wisdom of others can be beneficial in the learning process.

Consulting the experience of others in order to gain a better understanding of a certain subject is a prudent approach to tackling difficult concepts. By listening to and incorporating the advice of those who have come before us, we can make progress in our own learning journey.

One way to avoid plagiarism is to alter the structure of the text without altering the meaning or context. This can be done by rewording phrases, using synonyms, or changing the order of sentences.

It is essential to preserve the original intent and ideas while making sure to not replicate the original text.

The number of individuals who are opting to work remotely has been on the rise in recent years. An increasing amount of people are making the decision to work from home, leading to a substantial shift in the way we work.

This has been seen as a result of technological advances that have made it possible for individuals to stay connected no matter where they are. Furthermore, it has also been attributed to the many benefits that come with remote working, such as flexibility and cost savings.

The material we provide is backed by our readers. Purchases you make by clicking on our links could generate a commission for us.

Question:The concept of “coolness” was perceived as fashionable, yet was it a hindrance to something else?

SCHilary was uncertain. She frequently felt on the brink of discerning something more “profound,” yet each time, something exciting would occur at that moment.

Sometimes, the event was quite remarkable. She had encountered multiple famous people, and was almost overwhelmed with a spiritual sensation.

It seemed to her as if she was being put to the test or tempted.

In that era, chocolate cake was seen as symbolizing temptation. These cakes were usually given titles that alluded to sin or being tempted.

Deciding between feeling attractive and experiencing a rush of energy was similar to two indistinguishable twins arguing over the same magenta jumpsuit.

Hilary continually garnered gift cards.

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