Steve Carell’s big break came when he was cast opposite Jon Stewart as a fictional correspondent for “The Daily Show” in 1999. A stumbling newscaster in 2003’s Bruce Almighty and the most offbeat and blundering boss this side of the Atlantic on NBC’s “The Office,” Carell has created a niche for himself as a new millennium master of situational comedy. Almost as many times as you find yourself laughing at him, you’re cringing at the awkward situations his characters manage to get themselves into.
In honor of this week’s release of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, MM takes a look at the hits and misses of Carell’s feature film career thus far.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
In the role that made him a star, Carell plays Andy Stitzer, a 40-year-old Smart Tech employee willing to do nearly anything to lose his “virgin” label.
Little Miss Sunshine
Carell played it straight as Uncle Frank Ginsberg, a Proust scholar, in this 2006 indie hit. While he wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award alongside castmates Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin, Carell was praised for showing his acting range. Roger Ebert called Carell’s performance “a miracle in pink-and-blue-striped socks” and an “authentic expression of character.”
In this sequel to Bruce Almighty, Carell’s Evan puts his government job on hold to satisfy God’s wishes—namely, to save his wife, children and the world’s animals from a devastating flood. Afterwards Carell nearly had to save his career. A.O. Scott of the New York Times said the movie was “far less interesting than its premise.”
Dan in Real Life
Combining his comedic chops with his newly demonstrated dramatic side, the actor played a single dad dealing with adolescence, his career and a newfound love interest. Female audiences everywhere swooned.
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
As the voice of the Mayor of Whoville in the animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, Carell is appealing to a much younger audience—and ensuring his popularity for years to come.
Next up for Carell is June’s movie adaptation of the popular 1960s television show “Get Smart.” Opposite Anne Hathaway’s Agent 99, Carell is certain to return to what he does best: Live action, physical comedy.