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The career of Steve Carell

Marty Schroeder | Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Superman could go faster than a locomotive, leap a tall building in a single bound and stop bullets with his chest. Not many in the world can claim feats of grandeur akin to these but one man has made it his goal to do all of these – comedically.

Steve Carell has killed opposing television stars with tridents, expounded on the American virgin and driven around in yellow buses. Not quite the feats of Superman, but at least Carell makes us laugh.

Carell began what would become a so-far illustrious career in Acton, Mass. on Aug. 16, 1962 and was given the name Steven John. One of his first jobs was working as a mail clerk, but after determining he wasn’t any good at it – he decided to quit. He also had aspirations to attend law school but just couldn’t quite decide why he wanted to be a lawyer in the fist place.

His comedic career began with the famous Chicago improv group Second City. Notably, the man who now has his own TV show and is also named Stephen (albeit with a different spelling), Stephen Colbert was Carell’s understudy while both were at Second City.

This work garnered Carell his first film role. Although a minor one, Carell played Tesio in the John Hughes 1991 flick, “Curly Sue.” Working with the man who brought the world “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and teen classics “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club” gave Carell further education in comedication and gave him an inroads into Hollywood.

He then became a correspondent on “The Daily Show.” This mixture of comedy and news gave Carell access to a mainstream audience through a popular television show. Driven by the star power of host Jon Stewart, Carell participated in segments such as “Even Stevphen” with then correspondent Stephen Colbert and “Produce Pete with Steve Carell.”

His run with “The Daily Show” made him a not quite household name but he gained a familiarity with many people who watched this show.

Cashing in on his previous film credits and comedic notoriety with “The Daily Show,” Carell was able to garner a role opposite Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston in the man-becomes-God not so epic “Bruce Almighty.” His blathering scene introduced those not familiar with him already to his comedic style acting and ability to hold his own when stacked against A-list stars.

This would lead to another supporting role opposite SNL graduate Will Ferrell in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” With non-sequiturs such as “I love lamp,” and “LOUD NOISES!” he became a true household name.

Finally, after playing second seat to the pantheon on comedy, Carell received his own pedestal with “The 40 Year Old Virgin.” This film, some would say surprisingly, garnered much critical acclaim and was named one of the top 10 best films of 2005 by the American Film Institute. 2005 also marked a Golden Globe nomination for Carell. His role as office boss Michael Scott in the American version of “The Office” received a nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Series. Carell’s star is shining and seems to continue to do so.

The steam seems to keep coming out of the affable and laughable locomotive that Carell has become. A role in the funny yet serious “Little Miss Sunshine” displays a Carell that is moving away from his silly style to a more serious, nuanced one in a vein similar to Jim Carrey moving from straight comedy to respected actor.

Only the future will tell if Carell can make this jump, but judging from his performances in “Virgin” and “Sunshine,” the outlook is sunny.