Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner discuss how joy gets a family through a ‘Very Bad Day’

At this point, I've known both Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner for years, and I have very strange memories of watching each of them work. I was on set for “Anchorman” when Brick killed a man with a trident, one of the weirder afternoons I've witnessed on any movie. I stood on top of a building in downtown Los Angeles and tried to have a normal conversation with Garner while a wardrobe assistant polished her butt in her Elektra costume, which is more distracting than you'd guess.

Through it all, the two of them have always struck me as titans of poise. Carell is one of those guys who generally seems bemused by things, no matter what's going on, that smile of his always threatening to erupt, and Garner is both no-nonsense and incredibly sweet in conversation. Both of them seem like people who are always up for the discussion of what they're doing, but also like they're very good at carving off private lives away from the work.

We discussed Garner's sadly-underutilized knack for physical comedy, and we talked about how this film is ultimately about how important it is for families to have each other's backs, particularly in difficult moments. I asked the stars about how director Miguel Arteta helped foster the oh-so-important feeling of these people being an actual family.

“He was the member of the family you don't see onscreen,” Garner said, “but he was the biggest cheerleader for the Coopers.”

Carell agreed, and they talked about how important Arteta's eye for casting was in the first place. “These kids are fantastic, and we immediately clicked with all of them.” He continued, “You feel when people get along and like each other, and we all did.”

You'll see for yourself if it paid off when “Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day” opens in theaters on Friday.