Posted January 4, 2011 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Features

Steve Carell Interview

Funnyman Steve Carelll stars in Dinner for Schmucks, out Jan 17. Directed by Jay Roach, when a rising executive (Paul Rudd) finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the
idiocy of their guests, he questions it when he’s
invited, just as he befriends a man (Steve Carell )who would be the perfect guest.
Steve takes time out to talk about the film.

Dinner for Schmucks is, of course, inspired by the French comedy, Le Diner de Cons. Did you watch the original before you made this?

No I didn’t. I made that decision just as I didn’t watch the original British version of The Office. I knew both of them were these highly-regarded, iconic pieces of work. I, frankly didn’t want to be overwhelmed by their greatness. That was the first reason. I also didn’t want to end up just doing an impersonation of the actors in the end. My best bet was to just take the premise and create something from our imagination.

Many of the characters in Dinner for Schmucks are outsiders. Do you ever feel like an outsider?

I think everyone does. I think there’s an aspect to everyone’s personality. Even the most supremely confident people, there’s an element inside that’s fearful, worried, self-aware.

How do you overcome it?

You go into acting (laughs). I think everyone has a default setting and different ways of dealing with that fear within themselves. In Dinner for Schmucks, my character makes mouse dioramas. He is trying to make something beautiful out of something that’s dead. There’s a lot of heartache inherent in what he does. I think it’s cathartic for my character.

There are some really odd people in Dinner for Schmucks. But, then if you walk out on to the street you will see odd people. Would it be correct to say that sometimes reality is weirder than fiction?

Yeah. I used to teach an improv class in Chicago and one of the things we did in the class was go to shopping malls and just observe, or get into character and walk around and interact as that character. Everyone would walk off and I would watch them in different scenarios acting. They would try to do it seamlessly, not be a caricature or so broad that you wouldn’t fit into being a guy buying a shoe at a shoe store. But, someone who dresses differently, walks differently and essentially not who you are.

Who was the inspiration for Barry, your character in Dinner for Schmucks?

I didn’t have any one person in mind. When you walk around you pick up things from people. I saw someone with Barry’s colour hair and haircut and I was like ‘I think he should have that hair colour and haircut’. Then I saw the glasses and thought ‘They would be great. They’re not ridiculous nerd glasses, but they seem like functional glasses that Barry would wear’.

You must like working with Paul Rudd. You keep going back for more.

Yeah. Dinner for Schmucks is our third movie together. We worked on Anchorman and 40-Year-Old Virgin. There’s a great sense of trust between us. That makes it very easy. When you have trust in someone that has been developed over years and you find the same things funny, it makes it so much easy. We really share a sense of comedic sensibility.

It sounds like there was a lot of improvisation on the set.

Jay (Roach) was very open to it. The script was in very good shape when we started so we never had to improvise to save a scene or fix something. It was always in addition to what we already had. You never know how much will make the movie, but Jay always gave us a chance to play around with things.

Do your kids know your are such a big movie and TV star?

They know I work in movies and TV, but they don’t make a big deal about it. They know it’s my job.

So you will be taking your foot off the pedal career-wise, but will we see you in anything soon?

Yeah. I just finished a movie with Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling called Crazy, Stupid, Love. It is a marital crisis comedy.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.