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Interviews A to E > Steve Carell (2005 Interview)
All rights reserved. Posted: September 5, 2005.
everyone's surprise, Steve Carell hit a home run as the star of The 40
Year-Old Virgin. When his friends crusade to get Andy Stitzer (Carell)
laid, he manages to meet his true love (Catherine Keener) while his
friends' own failures at romance are revealed. From relative obscurity (he
has appeared in Anchorman and other recent comedies and was a
regular on The Daily Show), Carell has his virginal face on the
film's poster that is pasted up everywhere and that has made him an
instant cultural icon.
What was your reaction when you saw the billboard?
It was surreal. I was driving around with my daughter who's four and she
kept asking me, "Why are you on the signs? You look stupid." We went to
the mall last week, and had been out of town for a couple of weeks. So
when we left, none of these billboards were up. When we came back they
were every 100 yards and I kept pointing them out to my wife, "twelve
o'clock, there’s one at two
o'clock." So it's pretty strange, it's weird and I love it. Universal is
really promoting it, they're really behind it. It's pretty stupid. I think
I'm going to use that as my headshot.
This is the first time you've carried a movie. How much pressure is on
you now that you're the star?
There was no pressure until I was asked that. All the way through shooting
it, I kept thinking, "if this is the last movie I ever do, this has been
great, just fun," So I try not to get ahead of myself at all in terms of
what the next thing is. I hope I keep working. I've been really lucky just
to be able to support myself acting. And just being able to help create
and be the lead in a movie is way beyond any expectation I ever had so I'm
pretty happy with what has happened so far. So, if this is it, and if it
all comes crashing down tomorrow, I'm still pretty happy.
How autobiographical was the script?
I will not answer that question. It's not autobiographical at all. I in
fact have two
children so… No, it was a notion I had that I brought to
Judd [Apatow-the director] last year; essentially the pitch was the poker
scene--that sequence where a guy is desperately trying to keep up with
these other guys who are telling great sex stories and it quickly becomes
apparent that he's out of his element. That's what I pitched to him.
How closely do you identify with that character?
I identify with him in the sense that he's trying. He is doing his best to
get through life and keep a good aspect and disposition going, and keep
his hopes up. But there's an underlying sadness to the character, which in
fact there is to me as well. I think there are elements of who I am and
who this guy is but the specific one's I don't know.
Did you do any research or talk to any 40 year-old virgins?
given several case studies by Universal, which we read. Seriously, there
are quite a few case studies documenting middle age virginity and who
these people are, and where they live and what are their likes and
dislikes. And what we found to be the case more often than not is that
they're just normal people who for one reason or another never did it. And
very similar to the character, at some point just gave up on the whole
notion because at a certain point it was harder to, and every time I saw
something all these really bad puns start floating into the room, but it
was more difficult to keep attempting than to just give up. So that's kind
of the research we did in terms of the character. In terms of meeting
anyone -- not that I know of. That's a hard thing. It's not something you
wear on your sleeve. Who know how many virgins we've met in our life, it
sounds like they're aliens. It wasn't based on, like I know this virgin
guy who lives down the street and rides a bike. I'm going to do a movie on
him. I hope he doesn't come because he'll
sue us. It wasn't anything like
that, but we did do some research. And what we found just reinforced what
we had originally imagined. Like this is just a guy, it's not some
incredibly damaged human being.
Any advice you would give to a 40 year-old in this situation?
Apart from see the movie? I'm certainly in no position to give sexual
advice to begin with. If anything I'm in need of it.
What was your game with the ladies?
I'd hang out at the soda pop stand. I was really a bad dater and up until
eighth grade I went to an all-boys school so by the time I hit high school
I was a bit freaked out about women in general. And the putting on the
pedestal part of the aspect of the movie, I definitely did that. I was
very wary of women. Especially in high school, as soon as I went from
being a friend and started looking at a woman as a potential love
interest, I could not even talk to a woman. I was pretty bad. I did mix my
own perfume for a girl that I liked. I went to my mother's perfume on her
counter and I mix about eight or ten perfumes into a jar and I got it to
this next door neighbor and we're married. No, not true at all.
How did you mix improv and scripted material into the film?
The whole run that Paul [Rudd] does of, "You know how I know you're gay?"
That's just a perfect example of it. Jane Lynch, the woman who plays the
Manager, her audition was improvised and as soon as her audition was over
Judd sent it to be transcribed and that's what ended up being in the
script. Because she was so funny, and the whole run of her coming on to
me, we had the idea for it but she took it to such a different place that
it's nothing either of us could have scripted
scene where you get your chest waxed real?
That was 100% real. We set up five cameras, because we knew there would be
one take, there was no way of going back and trying to get it again. So we
set a camera up by the guys, one over me, one specifically on my chest and
one on the waxer. And it was not scripted. We just had an idea of where we
wanted it to go. We hired a woman that was an actress/waxer, which in
itself scared me because she wasn't a professional waxer so that was all
real. If you watch closely, there's one close-up where you can see blood
actually coming to the surface so that was no CGI. And when I pitched it
to Judd, I said it should really be for real, because I thought to see
them laughing at me in pain would probably be the funniest part of the
scene. It was a fun day. It was a day I both dreaded and looked forward to
What was it like doing the movie knowing it was R rated?
Just based on the subject matter we felt it was an R rated movie.
Universal never blinked at that and in fact asked us to go to earn it. To
actually be a hard R, to not pull any punches and to actually make an R
rated movie, not try to soften it. But the objective wasn't to make, "Ooh,
let's make this more of an R." We just wrote what we thought was the
funniest… we wrote for characters, we wrote for the situations, and we
didn't really think that we had to make this dirtier or less dirty. We
just wrote it the way we saw it. It was nice in that sense, we never felt
like we had to censor ourselves.
You're working with Charles Roven on Get Smart, and recently a
website talked about you possibly playing the Joker in the Batman
sequel. Would you want to?
I just heard that for the first time this morning, and yeah I would love
to do that. But I doubt that it's true. He's never said anything about it,
so it's completely fabricated. But I love it. I love the rumor, it's cool.
What are you working on now?
I just finished the first episode of The Office for NBC. It's
coming back September 20th. So that's the next thing that I'm
TO SEE WHAT STEVE CARELL HAD TO SAY TO US IN 2012!