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Eclectic Cast Gains Critical Acclaim

Marty Schroeder | Wednesday, February 14, 2007

“Little Miss Sunshine” stole the hearts of millions with its quirky humor about a dysfunctional family riding across the country in an aged, yellow VW Bus. While the film itself represents some of the best of American art-house cinema, the cast is composed of Hollywood veterans, staples of comedy and newcomers whose stars are rising. Alan Arkin, Steve Carell and Abigail Breslin fill these labels and headline the cast of this impressive riff on pre-teen beauty pageants.

Alan Arkin

The multi-talented Alan Arkin has acted, directed and composed literature and music for longer than most of the rest of the cast has been able to say “Oscar.” He starred in films such as “Catch-22” and “Edward Scissorhands” and even made an appearance on the children’s staple “Sesame Street” in the early 1970s. He is nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor due to his outstanding performance as the heroin-addicted Grandpa in “Little Miss Sunshine.” However, this is not the first time acting accolades have come his way.

In his first screen appearance as Lt. Rozanov in the 1966 film “The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming,” Arkin became one of only five men to be nominated for Best Actor in their debut performance. He went on to star as Bill in the Tim Burton classic “Edward Scissorhands,” and played George Aaronow in the film adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning stage play “Glengarry Glen Ross.” With this resume, Arkin was perhaps the most highly regarded actor in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Steve Carell

Most know this rising star as Michael Scott, the boss on the American version of “The Office.” His goofy antics have graced films such as “Bruce Almighty” and “Anchorman.” But in “Little Miss Sunshine,” he took a page out of “Bruce” co-star Jim Carrey’s book and took on a more serious, dramatic role as the gay Proust scholar, Uncle Frank. Although funny at times, this role allowed Carell the dramatic space to explore a character more complex than any of his previous roles.

With his breakout role in “The Office,” Carell won a Golden Globe for the Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series Musical or Comedy in 2006 and was nominated for the same category in 2007. He was also nominated for an Emmy in the equivalent category in 2006. After getting his start as a correspondent on “The Daily Show” and working with comedic greats like Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell, Carell has at last found his own niche where he can thrive.

Abigail Breslin

For her portrayal of Olive Hoover in “Little Miss Sunshine,” 10-year-old Abigail Breslin has become the fourth youngest actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She earlier appeared in films such as Mel Gibson’s “Signs” and “The Princess Diaries 2.” Even at such a young age, Breslin has earned the respect of fellow actors such as Arkin and Greg Kinnear for her work in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Although this rising star does not yet have many credits to her name, she will be an actress to watch in the coming years.

Arkin, Carell and Breslin anchor this cast and give the strongest performances in “Little Miss Sunshine,” but the other actors, including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Paul Dano also do admirable jobs. Together, they combine to form the engine which has propelled “Little Miss Sunshine” to the brink of Oscar glory.