Steve Carell returns this week as street magician Burt Wonderstone in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. To celebrate, we asked our writers to pick their favourite Carell performances.
Brick Tamland, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (McKay, 2004)
Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate and surprise appearances by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. Could an ensemble get any better? Apparently it Could! Anchorman brought the sensational comedic talent of Steve Carell to the fore. Carell played the self-proclaimed ‘mentally challenged’ weather reporter with an IQ of 48. Anchorman is considered Carell’s breakout performance, after gaining recognition for his performance in Bruce Almighty.
Although sharing screen space with the aforementioned comedians, Carell holds his own. A golden globe win and starring roles in several movies have ensued, turning Steve Carell into a bona fide and celebrated funny man. Carell shined in the few scenes he was afforded, the highlight being the scene in which he tries in vain, to flirt with Veronica. Carell left his mark with his deadpan jokes which were particularly hilarious. Anchorman is a comedy that demands repeat viewings, it has become a comedy classic, so it’s no surprise a sequel is in the works.
Andy Stitzer, The 40 Year Old Virgin (Apatow, 2005)
Think Brick Tamland meets J.D. from Scrubs and you get Andy Stitzer, a 40 year old loser, yet to lose his virginity.
It comes as no surprise that the part is played with hilarity, and it must be said, very convincingly. Despite the painfully predictable storyline, a performance of the highest quality is produced. Andy’s solo-scenes are undoubtedly the highlight of the film. His excruciating yet comical chest-waxing moment is made by Carell’s facial expressions and his improvised cries of pain. Similarly, his attempts at putting a condom on are cringe-worthy yet hilarious to watch, even by his high standards.
There’s more to The 40 Year Old Virgin than just comedy, Andy’s first encounter with Trish brings out his timid side, exhibiting some real acting skills. Furthermore, his contemplatively romantic demeanour when spending a night alone shows real genius. Of course he possesses the priceless ability to turn these moments into comedy gold with lines such as ‘Look at my face. Look how serious I am.’
The 40 Year Old Virgin is by no means the funniest film ever, but Carell’s performance, as usual, is outstanding.
Michael Scott, The Office (2005-2011)
Carell has never demonstrated more range as he did during his seven years as Regional Manager of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., Michael Scott. Scott, like his British version counterpart David Brent, is bigoted, arrogant, egotistical and narcissistic. The difference between them is that, despite his flaws, Steve Carell plays a hugely likeable character.
Michael Scott is a tragic hero, trapped in a world that doesn’t understand him. From his ill-fated love affair with Jan, to the formation of the of a rival paper company, aptly named the Michael Scott Paper Company, the audience is always on his side. Needless to say, Carell’s role as Michael Scott has cemented his place as one of the biggest stars on the planet. ‘That’s what she said.’
Cal Weaver, Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Ficarra & Requa, 2011)
When Steve Carell is asked to play pathetic, he nails it. Playing alongside the suave and smooth Ryan Gosling, Carell demonstrates that he can be more than the over-the-top clown. He underplays his role as the newly single Cal Weaver beautifully. Crazy, Stupid, Love. gives Carell the opportunity to explore a style of comedy he didn’t show in Anchorman or Evan Almighty.
Prepare to be surprised by how quickly you forget Carell’s earlier roles. He demonstrates an impressive amount of range. In Crazy, Stupid, Love, Cal Weaver isn’t a character, he’s a real person.