At some point, when you interview someone enough times, it starts to feel like you’re just checking in, like it’s an ongoing conversation that you just return to a few times every year.
I met Steve Carrell the first time on the set of “Anchorman.” I visited on the day they shot the big rumble between all of the various news teams, and Carrell was having a great time that day pushing the weirdness of the scene. It was such a playful set, and he was certainly in the spirit of things.
Then I spent a long day with him on “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and I really got a glimpse of the Steve Carrell that has become a movie star due in large part to that breakthrough performance. He seemed to me like a guy who was very serious about his craft but who wasn’t really playing the big-picture career game at that point. When I saw him on the “Get Smart” set, it was starting to feel more like someone had decided that the Steve Carrell brand was a very big brand, and there was more attention and energy focused on every choice. Carrell was still the same guy, but the energy around him was undeniably different.
I’ve visited him on the sets of his hits. I’ve spoken with him on the sets of some flops. I have talked to him about his silliest roles and his most grounded performances. At this point, it feels like things have finally settled into a groove, and Carrell is able to move back and forth between big Hollywood mainstream comedies and smaller indie films that appeal to him like “The Way, Way Back” where he intentionally challenges his reputation as the nicest leading man in modern Hollywood.
When we spoke about “Despicable Me 2,” I was entertained by how much he loves the Minions. They have clearly become the breakout characters of the films, and the unofficial mascot for Illumination Entertainment. As we wrapped our interview, I mentioned to him that I’d spent a day on the set of “Anchorman 2,” and he just lit up. As he tried to tell me about the film, he started laughing and couldn’t continue. All he managed to squeak out was, “It’s so weeeeeeeeird.”
Sounds good to me. I’m sure we’ll check in with him in December when Brick and Champ and Ron and Brian all return.
In the meantime, “Despicable Me 2” arrived in theaters today.