Before he was a Daily Show correspondent, the beloved star of The Office and Anchorman movies, and an Academy Award nominee, Steve Carell was just another struggling actor-comedian. In 1997, with just The Dana Carvey Show and a non-speaking part in Curly Sue under his belt, Steve Carell landed a role in a series called Over the Top, starring Tim Curry and Annie Potts. This was probably huge for him at the time, although Over the Top was canceled after only three episodes.
To add insult to injury, before the series was canceled, Carell suffered the abuse of a critic for the now defunct “teevee.com,” who wrote not just a scathing review of Over the Top, but targeted Steve Carell’s performance in particular. Carell has saved the review over the years and read it on last night’s Late Show with David Letterman. I have taken the liberty of transcribing it:
I wish I could say that Carell is bad, but that would imply that I have some frame of reference to judge him against. Carell screeches, wheezes, his eyes bulge — and that’s when he’s standing still. Trust me when I say this is not a road you wish to travel. The truth is, I have never seen anything like what I saw last Tuesday night. I’ve stood in a freezer full of dead people at the morgue. I’ve seen a man’s scalp pulled back over his nose. But I can honestly say that until Steve Carell’s turn in the premiere of Over the Top, I have never known true horror.
If you’re thinking, come on, it couldn’t have been that bad — let me just stop you right there. According to Wikipedia, Carell’s character is listed as Yorgo Galfanikos, a “psychotic Greek chef.” So it was probably that bad. Not that you can blame a guy for taking a crap role early in his career.
Here’s Carell telling the story, along with a delightful tale about how Stephen Colbert apparently tried to hire the guy who wrote the review: