With Crazy, Stupid, Love. out today, we thought we’d take a look at Steve Carell’s career to date, and review some of the highs and lows on his path to being one of the most in-demand comedy stars around.
Bruce Amighty (2003)
Like many people, this was my first exposure to Carell, and he basically stole the show right out from under Jim Carey in one scene. Here is the clip, where Jim Carey (with the powers of God) messes with Carell’s newscaster character. However, many knew him from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and in both of his first two big breaks, he is largely treading familiar ground.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Carell didn’t stray far from his first major film role when joining his next film. He plays Brick Tamland, the idiot weatherman, and provides the film with some of the best non-sequitors in one of the funniest films of the aughts.
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
The first starring role for Carell came with Judd Apatow’s first directing job (Carell also got a writing credit). It was a smash success, and made it onto a lot of critics top ten lists for the year. The film broke him out of the newscaster role, and into playing a more fully realized character.
The Office (2005-2011)
That fall, the British hit series The Office was brought to American shores, and the character of Michael Scott was born. While obviously based on Ricky Gervais’ David Brent, Carell brought his own brand of comedy to the role, and made Michael Scott the most beloved boss in TV history (OK, maybe after Lou Grant).
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
At the time of shooting LMS, Carell was a virtual unknown in Hollywood, as this was prior to The 40 Year Old Virgin. The role of Frank was written with Bill Murray or Robin Williams in mind, but Steve Carell was chosen for the role a few months before filming began. The directors said, “When we met with Steve Carell, we didn’t know he could do this based upon what he had done. But when we met with him and talked to him about the character, the tone of the movie and the way we were approaching it, he was right on the same page with us.”
Evan Almighty/Dan in Real Life (2007)
Evan Almighty, at the time of release, was the most expensive comedy ever made. It was a financial flop, failing to bring in fans of the original, families, Christians, greenies, or any other conceivable demographic. However, Carell’s performance was one of the few things praised about the film.
The same year, he also starred in an indie comedy, Dan in Real Life, whose premise seems a tad similar to that of this weekend’s release. It’s regarded pretty highly, but I found it only to be moderately successful.
Get Smart (2008)
Steve Carell is the obvious choice to take over the role Don Adams originated, and there may be no one else alive who could have done as good of a job. One of the better TV-to-movie adaptations, it maintains the style and humor of the source material, while updating the attitude and adding some solid action scenes.
Date Night, Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
Last year brought Carell together with NBC Thursday Night Comedy co-star Tina Fey, a dream pairing, and they did make a delightful on screen couple. The film overall felt safe, but Carell and Fey playing to their strengths isn’t something to complain about.
Dinner for Schmucks isn’t a great film, but Carell’s performance might be what saves it. He brings a sincerity and honesty to the role that others would just play as the butt of every joke (see: Zack Galifianakis). Carell’s performance alone is enough to watch this film.