Supervillainy, Fatherhood And The Pain Of Rejection: Steve Carell Talks Despicable Me 2
One of the charms of the film all around is that everybody is doing a voice. It's not just celebrities, it's their own voice. Do you ever do the voice for your younger fans?
Well, I did Ellen a couple of weeks ago as Gru. I figured I want to do it once. I want to go on a talk show and just be interviewed as the character, and not wink about it, not try to get me to break character, but really just do an interview with this guy. And one Ellen's staff's daughters was there, and when I went out, she said, “Mommy, see. He's real. I told you. This guy's real.” So she brought her back to the dressing room, and I hadn't taken off any of my makeup or costume. And she was shy, but she wasn't scared. And I think she was five or six. So I played the whole thing out with her. “Oh, what's your name. Hello, Stacey. It's very nice to meet you.” And went through the whole thing, and she thought she was talking to this guy. And it was really sweet. And just in terms of the voice, it is the best party trick for friends of my kids. They love it.
They designed an outfit that was the exact match for what I wear in the movie. I had a bald cap. I had a big, round face, and this nose that came out to about here. It's on the in-tra-net.
Do you see your own little ticks and quirks in the character of Gru as we see him in the movie? Or does your family notice it?
They notice it. I don't. That's the weird part because you don't see yourself in the mirror all day, but your wife and your kids do. And as you're recording, they have a camera. As you're taping it, as you're doing all the voices, there's a little camera that's on you at all times, and the animators will watch that tape and use it for reference. And not that they're modeling the character completely after you, but they do use expressions. And so from time to time, I couldn't tell you where, but my wife will nudge me and say, “That's you. That's it. That's exactly what you do.”
Your appearance in the final episode of The Office was such a great surprise. I was curious how early in the process you knew, and how did you keep it secret?
I lied. I lied for months to the press, to almost everyone, really. And I felt terribly for the cast and for Greg Daniels because they all lied too. They all went on talk shows and everyone just lied, continually, because we just figured it would be a fun surprise if people weren't expecting it. And I didn't want it to be a big thing. I did it out of respect for the show and for the actors, and it was really based out of that. And how early? Several months. And I talked to Greg Daniels about it. My only hope with it was I didn't want it to be about Michael coming back. I didn't want the story to be about him in it any way, but I wanted it to be more of a tip of the hat to the show.
In Despicable Me 2, we discover Gru's weak spot which is basically women and dating. How did you feel about the backstory about him having been rejected as a youngster?
Completely related, I have to say.
Do you think that has an effect on men later on in life?
Are you kidding me? [laughs] Yeah, definitely. I honestly did relate to that, and I bet most people do. In one way or another, not just in terms of girls or boys or dating. But I think even the most self-confident people at one point in their lives felt like an outsider or felt like they weren't being heard or seen or witnessed in some way. So I think that's a really relatable scene. And it definitely informs a lot about who Gru is now. But yeah, I was so shy, and all you need is that one – see that could go either way too – you have that one time where the girl says, 'Hey. You're all right.' Then that boosts your confidence. But that one time where you get shut down which I didn't have exactly that scenario, but yeah, it stays with you. Personally, I was shy for a long, long time with girls. I know, it's amazing.
You've been on this ride from The Daily Show, through Anchorman, to The Office, is it still surreal at this point, or has it just become second nature?
No. Well, this is still surreal. I mean, I'm doing a press conference for an animated movie that I'm going to be in? How did that happen? Who cares what I have to say? Yeah, I don't think it will ever feel second nature. I don't think it will ever feel deserved. You know what I mean? Like, oh, well, of course, this is the culmination of my career. This is where it was ultimately headed. I never felt that way. So it's a continual surprise that it's continued.
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