Steve Carell Recalls His First Thoughts About Minions When Reading The Despicable Me Script, And They Were Not Complimentary

Young Gru with Minions in Minions: The Rise of Gru
(Image credit: Illumination Entertainment)

The Despicable Me minions are everywhere these days. They are simply a fact of life and pop culture that are not going anywhere soon – especially given the incredible box office numbers for Minion: The Rise of Gru in its opening weekend. But if you can think back to 2010, when the first Despicable Me came out, it was a brand new concept that immediately took hold of a massive audience. Steve Carell, who has long voiced Gru, the leader of the minion army, has revealed that he didn’t expect the giggly yellow guys to catch on when he first was approached about the animated project. 

If you think about it, the idea of minions may not have translated very well on paper. It wasn’t until the cute henchmen dazzled audiences on screen that they became beloved and viral movie characters.While speaking to The A.V. Club, Steve Carell said of the minions,

I see how the plot’s going with the kids and the other villains and how that’s all going to play out. That made sense. But then they said, ‘Oh, you also have these henchmen. They’re called minions, and they’re yellow and they look like little tater tots. And they don’t speak English, it’s gibberish.’ I thought, ‘OK, well, good luck with that idea.’ There was a complete dead-end, but ‘I’m sure you know what you’re doing.’ Then, lo and behold a year later they are the biggest thing ever.

Steve Carell got honest about not totally getting the minions concept and then seeing how well they took off. The Office actor also shared more of his opinions on his animated co-stars, and whether he’s jealous they’ve stolen the spotlight:

I guess part of it is that they are The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, they are endearing and silly and can kind of get away with anything… No competition, I mean Gru is Gru, but yeah [Minions] are kind of a stroke of genius, certainly in terms of marketing.

The minions are not only movie characters, but characters with a major presence in commercial items, including fashion and costuming a lot of people have embraced. And of course Universal Studios has even invested in entire sections of their Universal Studios theme parks to be minion-themed as well. 

Since 2010, there have been three Despicable Me movies and now two spinoff Minions films. In Minions: The Rise of Gru, Carell voices an 11-year-old Gru living in the ‘70s with aspirations to become a supervillain with the minions by his side. The Rise of Gru has been met with mixed critic reviews and overall positive reactions from audiences, with moviegoers giving it an A on CinemaScore

The Rise of Gru debuted last weekend to an incredible $108 million domestic debut, and has already made $100 million more overseas. The movie also inspired a viral TikTok trend called “Gentleminions” that has seen audiences dressing up in suits to see the movie. Some of these dressed up fans led screenings to feature mosh pits and disruptive cheering in theaters, leading some establishments to discourage the trend from continuing. 

The Minions sequel continues the minion mayhem around the world as it is among the 2022 movie releases currently playing exclusively in theaters. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.