This weekend, Steve Carell hits Vegas in a blonde fright wig to play a cheeseball magician in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.” But what exactly do we know about a guy who, by all accounts, is one of the nicest and most normal comedians in Hollywood? Let’s find out…
After ditching a potential law career when he couldn’t come up with an answer for the question “Why do you want to be an attorney” on the law school entrance exam, Carell joined the famed Second City Improv
troupe in Chicago and met his future wife, Nancy Walls. When Walls went to New York to audition for “Saturday Night Live,” Steve joined her and ended up getting a job as a writer and occasional performer on the “Dana Carvey Show.”
Steve, however, did take a shot at SNL first. It didn’t go well. Not only did his girlfriend Walls make the show, Steve was one of the last people cut…and saw his roster spot taken by a guy named Will Ferrell.
But “The Dana Carvey Show” would turn out to be a good consolation prize, since it put Steve in a writer’s room that contained Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, Robert Smigel, Bob Odenkirk, and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (yes, ALL AT THE SAME TIME). Steve’s friendship with Colbert would lead directly to his breakout “Daily Show” gig, when Colbert recommended Carell to the producers.
One of Steve’s earliest onscreen appearances was playing a supremely dedicated hockey goalie who had to come up with inventive ways to practice alone. (see video below) It turns out, Steve actually did play ice hockey – and played goal - in high school in Concord, Massachusetts and continues to play in a men’s league in Burbank, California. He claims “what I lack in physical ability I make up for in poor coordination.”
While studying pre-law at Dennison college, Steve became a member of the country’s oldest collegiate improv troupe, called Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company. It has existed since 1979, but Carell is its most famous alumnus.
Although “The Office” proved to be a monster success for Carell, he was far from the top of producer Ricky Gervais’ dream cast list. Paul Giamatti, Hank Azaria, Bob Odenkirk, and Martin Short were all considered ahead of him – but the show was predicted to be a disaster, and may have scared some other actors off (in fact, many of Carell’s friends discouraged him from auditioning).
Steve and Nancy have been married for 18 years, and actually own a general store in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Residents claim that Carell will occasionally stop in and help stock shelves.
In the film “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” Carell and Walls had to film their characters’ break-up scene on the exact day of their 17th wedding anniversary.
Yes, Steve voices one half of The Ambiguously Gay Duo alongside Stephen Colbert. The animated shorts were created by fellow “Dana Carvey Show” alum Smigel.
In “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” Carell and Steve Buscemi (playing a pair of Las Vegas magicians) have a signature trick that becomes vital to the movie’s finale. The trick was actually designed by David Copperfield, who insisted that no camera trickery be involved. So Carell and Buscemi had to actually learn how to perform the trick, and signed non-disclosure agreements promising not to reveal how it was done.