Reel Corner - February 2019

“No More Funny Business”

ReelCorner Header

“No More Funny Business”
Actor Highlight of the Month: Steve Carell

Though Steve Carell is best known for his hilariously clueless characters in The Office, The 40 year old Virgin, Anchorman, and Little Miss Sunshine, he is now making an about-face. While he may seem like your average Hollywood funnyman, he’s recently achieved new depths in his films Beautiful Boy, Welcome to Marwen, and Vice. The actor has moved on to more serious subjects in these three hefty films.

This isn’t entirely unexpected. In 2015, Carell earned an Academy Award nomination for his dramatic role as convicted murderer John Dupont in Foxcatcher.  In Beautiful Boy, he plays the beleaguered father of a young crystal meth addict – a heartbreaking portrayal that debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2018 – and, once again, folks are whispering Oscar. In Welcome to Marwen—a tearjerker based on real events—Carell stars as the victim of a brutal attack who finds solace enacting miniature World War II scenes in his yard. And the actor is barely recognizable behind his still hair, and even stiffer smile, as U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Vice, a Dick Cheney biopic.

Not every actor can make a career about-face like this. Carell has been noted as relatable and comes off as a genuinely nice guy. Without his stellar list of credits and zillions of fans, if one passed him on the street, Carell, in his professional glasses and salt and pepper beard, could just as well be taken for a financial advisor.

The youngest of four brothers, Carell was born in Concord, Mass. His father, Edwin A. Carell, was an electrical engineer, and his mother, Harriet, was a nurse. His father is of Italian descent and his mother was of German and Polish ancestry. He played ice hockey and lacrosse while in high school, and earned a degree in history from Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

While at Denison, Carell was a member of Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, a student-run improvisational comedy troupe. Early in his performing career, Carell acted on the stage in a touring children’s theater company, later in the comedy musical, “Knat Scatt Private Eye.”

In 1991, Carell performed with the famed Chicago troupe, The Second City, where Stephen Colbert served as his understudy for a time. After several short-lived comedy shows, Carell teamed with Colbert as co-correspondents on The Daily Show from 1999 to 2005.

In 2005, Carell signed a deal with NBC to star in The Office, a remake of the British television series of the same name. In the series, a mockumentary about life at a mid-sized paper supply company, Carell played the role of Michael Scott, the idiosyncratic regional manager of Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, Penn. Although the first season of the adaptation suffered mediocre ratings, NBC renewed it for another season due to the anticipated success of Carell’s film The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and the series subsequently became a ratings success. Carell won a Golden Globe Award and Television Critics Association Award for his work on the small screen.

Carell is married to Nancy Walls. The couple met while working at The Second City in the early 1990s. They have two teenage boys and live in the San Fernando Valley in California.

Not an instant success by any means, Carell had been working as an actor for 20 years before getting his first big break as Michael Scott on The Office. As award season is upon us, I predict Carell will get a nod or two.

Remember to watch the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24!


ReelCorner DonneHeadshot0318Donne Paine, film enthusiast, once lived around the corner from the Orson Wells Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts where her strong interest in films, especially independent ones, began. Supporter of the arts­—especially films—she travels to local and national film festivals including Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca. There is nothing like seeing a film on the big screen. She encourages film goers to support Hilton Head local theaters—Coligny, Park Plaza and Northridge theaters. To support her habit of frequent movie going Donne is a retired executive recruiter and staff development consultant. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.