Steve Carell: The Legend Continues
Steve Carell made his Stern Show debut this morning. While Will Ferrell is out in character as Ron Burgundy hosting local newscasts and christening namesake communications schools, Steve sat down with Howard and covered the waterfront in terms of his life and career.
Here are some highlights from Steve's interview:
STEVE CARELL: LAWYER AND MAILMAN
Steve was born in Massachusetts to a smart, supportive family. His uncle helped invent the cathode tube, which is used in TVs (or something) and sounded impressive to Howard.
Steve originally aimed for law school but was stumped by the question on the application "Why do you want to be a lawyer?" and realized that, in fact, he didn't. He decided that the thing he enjoyed most in life was acting and his parents didn't stand in the way of his pursuit, not that they expected much.
Steve worked delivering mail for a post office in Massachusetts and was terrible at it. While sorting mail took other mailmen until 8 AM, Steve would still be sorting at noon. Howard knew he would've been the world's worst mailman, but since he never tried, the crown rests with Steve.
When he finally quit (he claims if he'd stayed a week longer, he would've been fired) he found a stack of undelivered mail in under his car seat. Let's hope it wasn't anything important.
MARRIED TO SUCCESS
After his failed post office career, Steve headed to Second City in Chicago, home of many great Saturday Night Live alumni, and started taking classes. He was good enough to join the company and start teaching improv to earn a living. Steve stayed at Second City for five years, and two lucky chance meetings – with his future wife, Nancy Walls, and a young actor named Stephen Colbert - would end up changing his life.
Steve and Nancy Carell (Photo Courtesy of PRPhotos.com)
Steve's wife Nance was hired by Saturday Night Live one week before their wedding. Steve admitted it was tough that his wife had gotten the big break and he hadn't, but he was proud and supportive of her. Steve took a job in an off-Broadway play and his break would come in a smaller way – with the Dana Carvey Show, which lasted just eight episodes.
LAUNCHING A CAREER IN COMEDY
Steve auditioned for the Dana Carvey and writer Robert Smigel (a.k.a. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) with a character he created who was German and would shout very nice things, like "LETS ALL PILE INTO THE ZEE MINI VAN AND GET SOME FROZEN YOGURT!" They loved him. Stephen Colbert was on the show, Louis C.K. was a writer, and though it had a short run, it would form the basis for Steve's brilliant comedy career.
The pilot episode aired just after Home Improvement, and the first sketch was Carvey, dressed as Bill Clinton, with eight teets being suckled by German Shepherd puppies. The Home Improvement audience flipped their TVs off all over the country.
Robert Smigel and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from the show in 2005
Carell and Colbert voiced the two main characters in Robert Smigel's animated sketch "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," which debuted on Dana Carvey's show, but moved over to SNL, where it still pops up to this day. Steve said there were talks about a live action movie based on the cartoon, but nothing ever came of it. He'd be into voicing an animated feature, though. Let's go, Hollywood!
When Stephen Colbert was hired as a correspondent on the Daily Show, he recommended that they look at Steve too. Howard was amazed by that because many talented people had difficulty being generous to other performers. Steve assured Howard that Colbert is a smart guy and a very good guy.
STEVE, THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN
Steve got his role in The Office just after filming of the first Anchorman ended, but before it was released. The show didn't do well its first season, getting low rating and bad reviews from the critics, who dismissed it as another attempt to rip off a good British show.
King of Comedy Judd Apatow obviously didn't think so, and called Steve up to ask if he had any ideas. It so happened that Steve had been kicking around an old sketch from his Second City days – a guy sitting around playing card with his buddies, who are all talking about sex. The joke of the sketch is that the guy himself has no frame of reference when it comes to sex, but he's trying to joke around with his pals -"oh, yeah, breasts feel like bags of sand."
Apatow liked it, they started writing together, and it became the 40 Year Old Virgin. Steve really wanted a Pretty Woman-style makeover scene and it was decided that waxing Steve's very hairy chest would be the way to go, comedy-wise. Steve demanded that it be completely real and as painful as possible. He knew the reactions would be funny. The lady ripped Steve's hair off and he claims it is probably the most painful experience of his life.
A LEGEND IS BORN
Of course, the movie became a monster hit and NBC willingly renewed the Office for a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh season before Steve bowed out of Dunder Mifflin.
In his real life, Steve lives next door to Miley Cyrus, who recently claimed Steve gave her the 'stank eye,' but Steve claims he never actually sees her.
Steve was also friend with James Gandolfini, and they were working on a project for HBO called Bone Wars when he died. Steve went to the funeral and got good seats next to Steve Buscemi, which made Howard incredibly jealous. 60 Minutes' Ed Bradley is still the only celebrity funeral Howard has attended.
Steve went on to make hit after hit movie including Despicable Me, Date Night, Get Smart and more.
As for Anchorman 2, Steve is proud of it. Like the first movie, it's largely improvisational. Steve was worried that fans of the movie were so in love with it that it was almost cult-like and taking ti mainstream would lose its cool, but that's not the experience he's having on the promotional tour.
He promises it's funny. With Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Steve, how could it not be?