Steve Carell found success relatively late in life. He was 43 before he made it big in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Late life success may literally be the only thing he has in common with Samuel L. Jackson, but just because you’d never heard of him until you saw him in The 40 Year-Old Virgin or in Bruce Almighty, doesn’t mean he wasn’t busy.
Steve got his start in film working for a guy named John Hughes. It wasn’t just any John Hughes movie that got him started, it was Hughes’ last movie. Steve Carell knocked John Hughes right out of Hollywood when he showed up in the 1991 film Curly Sue, as a dastardly asshole named Tesio bent on destroying Curly Sue’s cuteness. That may be a slight exaggeration.
In fact, unless you look closely you probably won’t even find him in Curly Sue. Luckily, thanks to the modern wonders of You Tube, you don’t have to put forward any effort to spot him. Here he is:
Hughes vanished from directing shortly thereafter, and hasn’t been seen on a set since. Maybe that’s why Steve’s career took so long to get going. Did the world blame Tesio for derailing one of cinema’s giants? Probably not. But it’s as good a reason as any for why it took 5 years before someone let Carell do something significant again. When they did, it was playing second banana to Dana Carvey. Not modern day Dana Carvey, mid-90s Dana Carvey, back when he was regarded as a comedy powerhouse and still marginally relevant. At least he was until Steve Carell got hold of him, as his comedy partner on the much lamented Dana Carvey Show.
It was here that Steve began his career long affair with two things: Vomit and the other Steve. Yes, Steve wasn’t the only Steve on the team at Carvey’s crash and burn. He was paired with Stephen Colbert, future leader of the free world and comedic genius. Together, they vomited the Dana Carvey show to a quick cancellation. Here’s a sample:
Carvey’s comedy cavalcade began and ended in 1996, which meant more time on the couch for our man Steve. He filled his time doing guest stints on ill-fated television shows like Tomorrow Night, where he played “Mail Room Guy Without Glasses” or on Just Shoot Me as a character named “Mr. Weiland”. It wasn’t until 1999 when the world would have the good sense to sit up and take notice of Carell. It was then that Steve returned to vomit and Colbert by joining the cast of The Daily Show:
Steve had found his niche, and soon he was sought after by commercial advertisers and landing big roles in major feature films. His first was in Bruce Almighty, where he would receive a dose of verbal diarrhea from Jim Carrey:
The rest is history. From there it was on to a bigger role in Anchorman and then off to starring in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, where Steve would again revel in vomit (Leslie Mann’s, delivered to his face) and become a mega-star. John Hughes had to die, that Steve Carell might live. Get Smart is pretty funny. Maybe it was worth it. Who needs another Breakfast Club?