Subject: Steven John Carell, 47-year-old American actor, writer & comedian.
Date of Assessment: April 9, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Longevity, humility, understated
Negative Buzzwords: Monotonous, zzzzzzzzzzzz
The Case: It’s damn near impossible to dispute that Steve Carell has captured the rare successful dual appeal of television and film acting, and he’s done so without being an ass about it. As his star continues to rise, Carell has never made a huge Katherine Heigl out of himself. Instead, he has happily returned as Michael Scott to “The Office” each season and will do so until at least 2012. Perhaps Carell’s slow-but-steady rise to the top (he worked for a number of decades to earn his comedy stripes) truly taught him not to take anything for granted. So, when Carell professes things like “It doesn’t sound sincere but it is: I’m always surprised that I’m working” and “I don’t have any pretence of doing serious drama or directing,” the guy sounds pretty damn believable. And this certainly helps audiences decide that, even if they’re seeing (and hearing) a bit too much of Carell all at once, he’s proven himself much more tolerable in the long term than Gerard Butler or Michael Cera. It also helps that Carell doesn’t willingly ride the tabloid circuit like Butler tends to do, at least, in terms of an enduring likability quotient.
For several years, Carell made do with bit movie roles and stints on “The Dana Carvey Show” and as half of the “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” (which was initially conceived for Carvey but later went onto “SNL” fame). With a regular correspondent gig on “The Daily Show,” Carell was able to fashion an ironic self-persona, and it is from this so-called character that many of Carell’s future acting roles would take their cues. Yet, this “oblivious” routine doesn’t seem to be wearing thin quite yet. Certainly, Carell is capable of extending himself somewhat, for he layered several dimensions onto his role in The 40-Year Old Virgin; otherwise, most of his acting talent lies in his ability to affect a perplexed persona while using a method of line delivery that can only be described as “flat” and “unaffected” As a leading man in movies, Carell has worked this shtick in Bruce Almighty, Anchorman, and Get Smart (among others). Most of the time, this tactic has worked out to his advantage, and audiences obviously weren’t pissed off enough by Evan Almighty to stop attending Carell’s movies. In fact, people fucking love this guy, and he’s seen several award nominations and a few wins from the HFPA (a Golden Globe in 2005) as well as Spike TV, which named him “Funniest M.F.” in 2008. He’s also done well by settling into some voice work in kiddie flicks, Horton Hears a Who?” and (the upcoming) Despicable Me, which may not earn accolades but certainly boost his box-office reputation as a star of virtually guaranteed blockbuster smashes. Now, he’s got a Date Night alongside Tina Fey, who just to be a television-movie chameleon herself. Between the two of them, their respective television audiences shall purchase several millions of movie tickets this weekend
Steve Carell has played his cards quite well throughout most of his Hollywood tenure. Admittedly, I’m not really a huge fan myself, haven’t watched several of his movies, and have no plans to do so. While I can see his appeal, I do live with an “Office” junkie; thanks to DVD and syndicated reruns, if you enter my home, there’s a strong chance that any given episode will be playing in the background. So, I’ve sort of had enough of the guy on most days and wouldn’t specifically choose to go watch a movie just because he’s in it. Still, Carell is largely inoffensive and has remained scandal free throughout his career, so I presume that audiences will continue to enjoy his movies for years to come.
Prognosis: Carell gives me a strong Steve Martin sort-of vibe. Hopefully, his career will play out the same way… a gradual fadeout after another decade and then just an occasional movie appearance or “SNL” cameo will do just fine. It wouldn’t even surprise me to see him starring in a Father of the Bride remake, but I probably shouldn’t attempt to give Hollywood any ideas, right?
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.