Steve Carell Biography

Actor and writer

Born August 16, 1963, in Concord, MA; married Nancy Walls (a comedian), 1995; children: Elisabeth, John. Education: Earned degree from Denison University, 1984.

Addresses: Agent —Endeavor Agency, 9601 Wilshire Blvd., 10th Fl., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Actor on television, including: The Dana Carvey Show (also writer), ABC, 1996; Over the Top , ABC, 1997; The Daily Show , Comedy Central, 1999-2005; Watching Ellie , NBC, 2002-03; The Office (also writer), 2005—. Film appearances include: Curly Sue , 1991; Tomorrow Night , 1998; Suits , 1999; Bruce Almighty , 2003; Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy , 2004; Bewitched , 2005; The 40-Year-Old Virgin (also writer and executive producer), 2005; Over the Hedge (voice), 2006; Get Smart , 2006; Little Miss Sunshine , 2006.

Awards: Golden Globe award for best performance by an actor in a television series (musical or comedy), Hollywood Foreign Press Association, for The Office , 2006.


Actor and comedy writer Steve Carell was a favorite of viewers on Comedy Central's The Daily Show for several years, but in 2005 suddenly emerged as Hollywood's hottest new box-office

draw thanks to the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Carell's innocuous face was plastered all over America's urban centers as part of the film's marketing blitz on billboards that reprised the movie poster—a knock-off of a cheesy high-school senior photo. Carell did admit "it's a little jarring seeing it everywhere, " he told Newsweek writer Devin Gordon. "I always think, 'God, is that what I really look like? I'm an idiot.'"

Born in 1963, Carell grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and went on to Denison University in Ohio. After graduating, he decided against law school, and moved to Chicago in 1985, where he took acting classes and eventually joined the acclaimed improvisational comedy group, Second City. He made his feature-film debut in the 1991 comedy Curly Sue , and by the mid-1990s was living in New York City. His first break seemed to arrive when he was hired as a writer on The Dana Carvey Show , which debuted on ABC in the spring of 1996. Carell also appeared in the show's skits, along with another member of the writing team, Stephen Colbert, whom he knew from Second City.

Just five episodes of The Dana Carvey Show aired before ABC cancelled it. Carell later recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly 's Josh Wolk that the bad news "floored me. How could it not work? It was too funny for people not to watch it." Carell decided to relocate once again, this time to Los Angeles, and spent nearly three years being bypassed at the audition stage or working on projects that never made it into production. He was in an extremely shortlived series, Over the Top , with Tim Curry and Annie Potts in 1997, and had small roles in two little-seen films, including one in which he was credited as "Mail Room Guy Without Glasses."

Carell's career fortunes changed when Colbert suggested him for a correspondent's slot on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Colbert had been appearing on the fake-news show and broadcast-journalism spoof since 1997, and the series was boosted by the arrival of comedian Jon Stewart as host in 1999, the same year that Carell joined the team. As a roving news correspondent, Carell appeared in sketches that scored high marks for their originality and deadpan delivery. His on-air demeanor, he told Richard Rushfield in Daily Variety , was that of someone he imagined was possibly a former "national news reporter and had been demoted to this Podunk local show and had kind of a chip on his shoulder."

Carell had a recurring role as the annoying ex-boyfriend of Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her sitcom Watching Ellie , which aired in 2002 and 2003, and was cast as Jim Carrey's on-screen nemesis in Bruce Almighty. His scenes as smarmy newscaster Evan Baxter were some of the funniest in that film, and led to his next role, in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy , as meteorologist Brick Tamland.

Anchorman gave Carell a chance to work with writer-director Judd Apatow, and Carell pitched him a story idea based on a skit he had done years before with Second City. The premise involved a group of men telling risqué stories, but there was "one guy who just couldn't keep up, " Carell recounted to Gordon in the Newsweek article. "It becomes quickly apparent that he's never done any of the things he's talking about." The "bag of sand" comment from that sketch made it into the screenplay for The 40-Year-Old Virgin , which Carell co-wrote with Apatow, who also directed him in his first lead role.

In the surprise hit of 2005, Carell played the titular virgin Andy Stitzer, a nice-enough guy but a loner who collects action figures and gave up on dating long ago. When his co-worker buddies at the electronics store discover his situation, they decide to help him find a girlfriend. A series of misadventures ensues, but Carell's Andy eventually clicks with a single mom played by Catherine Keener. The movie garnered enthusiastic reviews and took in $20.6 million its first weekend in August of 2005 as the number-one box-office draw. Entertainment Weekly writer Owen Gleiberman called the film "buoyantly clever and amusing, a comedy of horny embarrassment that has the inspiration to present a middle-aged virgin's dilemma as a projection of all our romantic anxieties." Gleiberman also commended Carell's performance, remarking that "Andy may be a light caricature of a clueless, repressed loser … but Carell plays him in the funniest and most surprising way possible: as a credible human being."

Carell's turn in The 40-Year-Old Virgin had a somewhat unexpected effect in boosting the chances of a new series on NBC, The Office. The American version of a hit British series of the same name that lured a cult following on cable's BBC America channel, the show had a brief run in the spring of 2005, with Carell as Michael Scott, the much-loathed boss of a paper company. By the time it returned for full season in the fall, Carell's Virgin was still in theaters, and ratings for the The Office spiked impressively.

Projects for 2006 included a reprisal of the Evan Baxter role for Evan Almighty , and a film version of the 1960s spy-spoof television series Get Smart. For 2007, Carell was scheduled to star in Juvenile as an average, 30-ish suburbanite who learns he must serve time for a crime he committed as a teen. The avalanche of film and television projects coming his way forced Carell to give up his Daily Show job in 2005. He made a few appearances on its "Indecision 2004" election reports, but politically disillusioned viewers began tuning into the show in record numbers that year. Carell conceded that "in the year and a half since I left, it's gone through the roof and won all kinds of accolades, " he said in an interview with Joel Stein in Time. "I guess they needed to get rid of some dead weight."


Daily Variety , April 21, 2005, p. B2.

Entertainment Weekly , August 26, 2005, p. 40; February 24, 2006, p. 20.

Esquire , September 2005, p. 76.

Newsweek , August 15, 2005, p. 47.

New York Times , August 19, 2005.

Time , March 21, 2005, p. 72; August 22, 2005, p. 69.

Carol Brennan

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