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Steve Carell Biography


Home > Actors > C > Carell, Steve > Biography


Birth Name: Steve Carell
Born: 08/16/1962
Birth Place: Concord, Massachusetts, USA


Born Aug. 16, 1963 in Concord, MA, Carell was raised by his father, Edwin, an electrical engineer and his mother, Harriet, a psychiatric nurse. After graduating Middlesex School, he attended Dennison College where he formed a touring company that traveled the country improvising sketches. Carell also aspired to becoming a radio deejay and worked on-air for the college station WDUB, a.k.a. "The Doobie." He graduated in 1984 and tried to work as a letter carrier, but quit after only a couple of months. In 1991, Carell then moved to Chicago where he became a member of the famed Second City improv theatre. It was during his stint at Second City that Carell began to make strides; he met future wife, actress Nancy Walls, and future "Daily Show" cohort, Stephen Colbert. Though the foundation for his career was set, it would take years of hard work for Carell to make a name for himself.

After appearing at the Goodman and Wisdom Bridge Theaters in Chicago, Carell made his film debut in "Curly Sue" (1991), a family comedy about a precocious nine-year-old girl (Alisan Porter) and a street-smart drifter (Jim Belushi) who try to scam their way into the good graces of a wealthy attorney (Kelly Lynch). He next appeared on "The Dana Carvey Show" (ABC, 1996), a sketch comedy show that was doomed from its very first episode, which aired a sketch showing President Bill Clinton (Carvey) breastfeeding puppies. The show lasted a month. Carell then found himself on another short-lived series, "Over the Top" (ABC, 1997), playing Yorgo Galfanikos, an annoying Greek chef. Starring Tim Curry as a newly unemployed star of stage and screen, and Annie Potts as the women he was married to for seven days, the show lasted a solid three weeks before being suddenly pulled off the air, never to be seen again.

Carell landed a couple of guest-starring roles on "Just Shoot Me" (NBC, 1996-2003) and "Strangers with Candy" (Comedy Central, 1998-2001) before joining "The Daily Show" during its fourth season, thanks in part to fellow Second City alum, Stephen Colbert. Carell became one of several correspondents doing mock field pieces, while sometimes appearing in studio to serve as a so-called expert in whatever particular field the show needed for that episode. Though considered a comedy show - or fake news program, as dubbed by host Jon Stewart - "The Daily Show" was often credited by critics and fans for being more truthful than mainstream news. Aside from his correspondent pieces, Carell had regular segments that covered other topics apart from news and politics: "Slimmin' Down with Steve;" "Ad Nauseum," which lampooned advertisers and their products; "Produce Pete," a spot where he gave humorous advice on produce while telling stories about his life's failures; and "Even Stev/phen," in which he went one-on-one with Colbert in ridiculous, unproductive and confrontational arguments on issues of the day.

Though Carell remained an infrequent contributor to "The Daily Show," he had moved on to greener pastures by 2004. Making the transition from television to the big screen, he nearly stole the show from Jim Carrey - a rare, if not impossible feat - as the tongue-tied newscaster Evan Baxter in "Bruce Almighty" (2003), a broad comedy about a local Buffalo newscaster (Carrey) who, after cursing God for having a bad day, is challenged by the Almighty himself (Morgan Freeman) to use His powers to improve the world. Carell then had two features released in the same week during the summer of 2004: "Anchorman," in which he played a bizarrely off-kilter weatherman, and "Sleepover," where he played an overeager security guard. Carell's star continued to rise as he signed on to appear in several high profile projects: he was tapped to play Uncle Arthur in the adaptation of the popular 1960s television show, "Bewitched" (2005), giving an exquisitely Paul Lynde-esque performance, then had a minor role in Woody Allen's return to form, "Melinda and Melinda" (2005).

Going back to his days at Second City, Carell revived one of his favorite characters and collaborated with first-time director, Judd Apatow, to make "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005), the rare broad comedy that had plenty of laughs, three-dimensional characters and a genuine heart. Carell played Andy Stitzer, an electronics store technician hiding his virginity, until his coworkers (Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen) find out and try to help him have his first sexual experience. Carell - who also had a hand in improving much of the film's scenes and dialogue, including the infamous chest waxing scene - pulled off the difficult task of bringing his oft-cartoonish comedic gifts into play while still managing to develop a somewhat realistic and always sympathetic protagonist. Meanwhile, the film was a surprise summer hit, taking in over $100 million at the box office.

Thanks to "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," Carell was suddenly and surprisingly a star, which helped boost his other project at the time, "The Office" (NBC, 2005- ), an Americanized version of the wildly popular BBC series that depicted the wacky goings-on of a merchant paper company, Dunder Mifflin. Carell was hilarious as Michael Scott, an arrogant, sometimes spineless regional manager who believes his staff thinks of him as a friend first and boss second, as he routinely says offensive or inappropriate remarks to his employees, most of whom would rather he just leave them alone. Though the series was in jeopardy with the ratings after it emerged in March 2005, Carell's sudden stardom helped propel the show the following season. Eventually, "The Office" became a hit and began earning numerous awards and nominations, including a nod for Carell for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2006. Though he failed win an Emmy that year, he did receive a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy. Meanwhile, Carell earned more Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Back on the big screen, Carell voiced Hammy the Raccoon in Dreamworks' amusing animated feature, "Over the Hedge" (2006). He then had a quasi-serious turn as a gay, suicidal Proust scholar struggling to deal with a spurned love affair in "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006), a dark comedy with heart about a dysfunctional family and their quest to drive their youngest daughter (Abigail Breslin) 800 miles to a beauty pageant. In a strange turn only Hollywood could manage, Carell revived his character from "Bruce Almighty" to star in "Evan Almighty" (2007), turning his once-supporting role into a lead after Jim Carrey opted out of the sequel. This time around, God (Freeman) asks Evan to build an ark a la Noah in order to save the world from a second flood. He took a step back with "Dan in Real Life" (2007), a dramedy about a widower with three daughters whose strict rules for behavior are tested when he falls for the girlfriend (Juliette Binoche) of his younger brother (Dane Cook).

Carell then starred as Maxwell Smart in "Get Smart" (2008), a mildly received, but ultimately successful remake of the classic 1960s television show about a bumbling secret agent trying to save the world from the clutches of the evil crime syndicate KAOS. Back on the small screen, Carell earned his fourth straight Emmy Award nomination in the lead actor category for his work on "The Office." In the feature world, he had another animated gig when he voiced the Mayor of Who-ville in "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" (2008). While audiences eagerly awaited Carell's next movie, he was on the precipice for further awards recognition when he was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for "The Office" in late 2009. The following year was exceptionally busy for Carell in regards to his film output. He began the summer with the marital action comedy "Date Night" (2010), starring Carell and Tina Fey as a husband and wife on the run from crooked cops due to a highly contrived case of mistaken identity. In the animated family feature "Despicable Me" (2010), he channeled his inner Boris Badenov as the voice of Gru, a not-so-evil genius suddenly saddled with three young orphan girls. Carell immediately reappeared in theaters as Barry Speck, a well-intentioned buffoon who brings more to the table than a few laughs for unsuspecting Tim (Paul Rudd), in the broad farce, "Dinner for Schmucks" (2010).

Much to the dismay of fans and network executives, Carell announced that the 2010-11 season of "The Office" would be his last, sparking immediate speculation as to who would take over as head honcho at the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin. He was leaving on a high-note, however, with nominations from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild and the Emmys for his final, emotional days on the job as the oblivious Michael Scott in 2011. The same year, Carell had a more nuanced turn in the ensemble romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love." and spent 2012 in similarly understated roles in the darkly comedic "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" and "Hope Springs," which found him working with no less than Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Returning to more indie-minded fare with "The Way Way Back" (2013), Carell also got to ham it up in the magic-themed dud "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (2013) and later helped top the box office with the kinder, gentler animated sequel "Despicable Me 2" (2013).