Steve Carell Interview – DAN IN REAL LIFE

     October 24, 2007

During this past summer I posted an interview with John Krasinski (Jim on NBC’s “The Office”). He was promoting “License to Wed” and during the press conference I asked him, as a fellow New Englander, what was it going to take to get a Dunkin’ Donuts here in Los Angeles. If you missed the article you can read it here.

After asking him about it, he went on and on about how he hated not having Dunkin’ Donuts everyday and how he missed their coffee.

Okay, let me backup a second. If you didn’t know, there are no Dunkin’ Donuts in California and it’s a dire situation for anyone who grew up on the east coast. So when I asked John the question, I knew the story would get a laugh in the room (which it did) and perhaps a person or two who lives in Los Angeles would want to know what was said.

But what I didn’t expect was the amount of traffic the story would get.

Over the days that followed my posting, I don’t know if it was the headline, the Fark links, or people just emailing the story to each other, but a lot of people wanted to know what John said about Dunkin’ Donuts.

So now we cut to a few months later. As you may know, Steve Carell is from Massachusetts and he’s also someone who wants a Dunkin’ Donuts out here in California. So what was my big question that I had for Steve?

How about:

Collider: What’s it going to take to get Dunkin’ Doughnuts in Los Angeles?

Steve Carell: John Krasinski is a big – well, you know his idea, he wants to do a celebrity Dunkin’ Doughnuts and have Boston based celebrities kind of front the Dunkin’ Doughnuts, and have all of the proceeds go to charity, which I think is a great idea. So there’s people like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and John, people that he thinks might sort of promote the Dunkin’ Doughnuts and then do like a Newman’s Own thing, and just put all the money into charity.

Collider: He mentioned that the old Tower Records on Sunset would be a great location for the branch.

Steve Carell: Go John!

So while it’s not much of an update on what’s happening behind the scenes, I’m keeping getting a double D in the headlines. So anyone working at corporate… come on… get it together!

And now the real reason we’re here.

Opening this Friday is Steve Carell’s new movie “Dan in Real Life.” In the film Steve stars as a widowed advice columnist who has three daughters. After setting up and explaining their family problems,the four of themgo on a road trip to visit the rest of their family and Steve ends up falling for his brothers girlfriend. His brother is played by Dane Cook and the girlfriend is Juliette Binoche. And although Dane Cook usually bothers me when he’s onscreen, he’s actually good in the movie and I enjoyed the entire film. And I definitely think audiences will as well.

So to help promote the movie, Disney recently held a press day and I got to participate in a very small roundtable interview with Steve. During the interview we talk about all the usually things from “The Office” to “Get Smart” and of course making this movie.

As usual, you can either read the transcript below or listen/download the audio as an MP3 by clicking here. And if you missed the movie clips I previously posted…you can watch them here.

“Dan in Real Life” opens this Friday at theatres everywhere.

Question: The Office premiere was great

Steve Carell: Oh, thanks. They’re just going to get more and more insane. There are some great episodes coming up.

Q: Why do you think that it is important for you to remain; I know there are the jokes about the fact that you’ve become this big movie star –

Steve Carell: Oh it’s no joke. I take it completely seriously, and myself seriously at this point in time (he laughs).

Q: Why is it important for you to remain with the show and not be tempted –

Steve Carell: I like the show, I like doing it, there’s no reason to leave. I look at it as probably the best work environment I’ll ever have. The writing is great, the producers are fantastic, we get the best directors, and the cast to a person are talented and nice, we’re all friends. So there’s really no reason to leave. I don’t get the sense that it’s better somewhere else, or doing something else, and I don’t have any sort of attitude about TV verses movies.

Q: How selective are you in terms of taking on a movie. How do you have time to do two a year?

Steve Carell: Last year, well, that was a very busy year. I didn’t have any down time. The hiatuses that they built in to the TV show I used to shoot movies. It’ll slow down. That’s the other thing, I’m not anticipating it’s just going to continue at this pace forever.

Q: You’ve said that for at least three or four years

Steve Carell: I know, but I’m still dubious about it and thankful for it, but I don’t expect it’ll just keep going like this.

Q: At the Evan Almighty junket I asked you how Michael Scott would handle Evan’s tasks – Michael Scott in the role of Dan, what would he do?

Steve Carell: Well, if Michael Scott was in the role of Dan, for one thing he probably wouldn’t be invited to the family weekend, and his daughters – let’s face it, he wouldn’t have any daughters because no woman would probably have sex with him to procreate.

Q: What about Jan?

Steve Carell: Jan would use heavy duty birth control, because I don’t think any woman would want to bear the offspring of Michael Scott, it’s kind of incomprehensible to me.

Q: In this movie I kept waiting for Dan to have this big, emotional breakdown, and it was kind of refreshing that he never did, were you waiting for a moment like that?

Steve Carell: Only in my personal life. Well, I don’t think the story lent itself to a big, emotional breakdown. In my mind is a guy who is just doing his best to get through, and get by, and raise three daughters by himself, not someone to wallow in self pity, just someone who has put other people and other things ahead of himself, and kind of loses a part of himself in the process. That’s the element of the movie that I can identify with, and I think a lot of people can. I love my kids, I have two little kids, and I love them more than anything, and I put them ahead of any of my own personal needs, and I think people tend to do that. But there’s a danger there I think of losing a part of yourself and not taking care of your own needs, which I think can then affect them, because you want to give your kids the best possible version of yourself, and if you don’t feel complete and full yourself, then you can’t do that for them, and I think that’s what this character was going – (he’s interrupted!)

Q: Do you enjoy the acting muscles of a movie like this which enables you stretch as opposed to movies like Evan Almighty and Get Smart?

Steve Carell: It’s a different thing, it’s just a different sort of muscle I think. I don’t think it’s any more or less difficult, but they’re just different –

Q: Do you enjoy playing…

Steve Carell: Oh, yeah, I definitely – do I enjoy it more? No, I think I enjoy them equally. Playing Michael Scott is a very different sort of character, and a fun character to play, but again the show has a different tone to it than, say, a movie like this. I think of it as the tone, I think of it as what the movie calls for, what this situation calls for, and I just wanted to make this guy as truthful as I could, as honest as I could.

Q: I think one of the most attractive things about this film is the very believable dynamic between Dan and his three daughters – how easy or difficult was that to bring off?

Steve Carell: Well, they’re really good actresses and it didn’t feel too distant to me. I have a six year old daughter, and being around a nine, a fifteen and a seventeen year old girl just felt like my life accelerated by a few years, and the fear inherent in that. It’s scary, it’s scary to be around these pre-teen teenagers, who are making that transition between childhood and adulthood and are full of all of these hormones and thoughts and angst, and I can only imagine what it’s going to be like for me and my kids

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Q: Are you scared?

Steve Carell: I’m incredibly scared, because you don’t want to be overprotected, you want to let them make their own mistakes, and I don’t want to wrap them in a cocoon of security, because that’s not going to help them either. So you have to gauge how protective you are. At that point, you know you go when they’re little kids you worry about them getting hurt physically, when they get older you worry about them getting hurt emotionally, and that’s going to be hard, because they will get hurt emotionally and there’s nothing you can do about it. And I think that’s what the character is going through, he doesn’t want them to get hurt because he’s hurting, he doesn’t want them to feel the way he has felt, he wants to protect them, but at a certain point you can’t and you have to let them make some bad moves.

Q: Have you ever fallen for a best friend’s girl in the past?

Steve Carell: No, I haven’t. Luckily I never had to face that consequence.

Q: You’re from New England

Steve Carell: I am, Massachusetts.

Q: What was it like filming in Rhode Island?

Steve Carell: It was great. I was only like an hour and fifteen minutes away from my parents’ house, so we did a lot of visiting. They came down and spent some time on the set, it was great. And fall in New England is a beautiful place, it was nice. There’s a quality to the air and a crispness that made me think a lot about my childhood. It was great; it was nice to be back.

Q: The last time we spoke to you, you were just finishing off Get Smart,

Steve Carell: I’m all done.

Q: You’re all done with that, are you excited about –

Steve Carell: Yes, it’s going to be great.

Q: The trailer looks hysterical.

Steve Carell: I think it’ll turn out really well. I think many people will enjoy it. I hope (he’s interrupted)

Q: something about the iconic world of the series

Steve Carell: No, because I think in the same sense that’s what I stepped into with The Office, and I approached it the same way. I’m not trying to do an impersonation of Don Adams, I’m not trying to better anything that he did because there’s no way that I could. Like I did with Ricky (Gervais), I just tried to think about what elements of the character were important and that I could apply to another characterization, and I hope it works. I think fans of the original show, there will be enough from the original show, and enough of a sense of it to satisfy them while bringing in new fans.

Q: Juliette said there wasn’t adlibbing, or very little on this film, was that limiting to you at all because I know on The Office there is more adlibbing.

Steve Carell: No, there is, yeah, we play around with the script a lot on The Office, and didn’t so much with this. No, I think it’s just a different discipline, it was much more like doing a play, because Peter comes from a theatre background also, and when you do a play you don’t improvise the lines, you do them as scripted and you rehearse, and we rehearsed our scenes and we set them up and there were a lot of very big group scenes, and that can be a disaster if you start improvising within a fifteen person scene. So they were scripted to the point to make them look unscripted, you know what I mean? Which I think really speaks to the quality of the writing; they were written in a way that didn’t sound written.

Q: You have that dramatic scene in this where you’re singing and playing guitar and your voice starts cracking, I think that was the closest I saw to you cracking, I thought that was very well done, where did you go to get that?

Steve Carell: I was just thinking about how bad my voice was, and it just made me cry. Well, I think you gain a lot by being with somebody like Juliette, because she’s very engaging, and she was off camera but she was there, she was always there, as was the rest of the cast. Any time that the camera is not on you or is not on everybody else, everybody else stayed so you could get a sense for what was going on on the other side, and she’s incredibly engaging and I think whatever I was feeling was coming through looking at her.

Q: We saw you on the set of Get Smart doing a fight scene, was there more action in that movie than you expected?

Steve Carell: Yes, there were a lot more stunts than I expected. I was hanging off the side of planes, I was scaling buildings, I was hanging off of ropes and dangling from wires, it was – yeah, but it was really fun, I have to say. And again, something I never expected to do.

Q: Is there an action star now in your future?

Steve Carell: Yes, from here on out I’m going to just get incredibly ripped and muscular and I’ll just have a big veiny neck, and I will be making that transition probably from action star into porn, that will be the dénouement of my career.

Q: What kind of porn will you specialize in?

Steve Carell: Only the most high quality.

Q: You’re also doing the voice of Horton Hears a Who! The last voice you did was not your voice at all, is this going to be more your own voice?

Steve Carell: Yeah, a version of; a sort of a heightened version of my own voice. I play the mayor of Whoville, and so he’s kind of an insecure but hopeful mayor of this town.

Q: Have you signed up for anything else?

Steve Carell: No, I haven’t yet.

Q: Do you have a timeframe where you want The Office to conclude?

Steve Carell: No, I’m a part of it for the foreseeable future, I’m really not thinking ahead to its demise, I’m just happy that it’s still on.

Q: What’s it going to take to get Dunkin’ Doughnuts in Los Angeles?

Steve Carell: John (Krasinski) is a big – well, you know his idea, he wants to do a celebrity Dunkin’ Doughnuts and have Boston based celebrities kind of front the Dunkin’ Doughnuts, and have all of the proceeds go to charity, which I think is a great idea. So there’s people like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and John, people that he thinks might sort of promote the Dunkin’ Doughnuts and then do like a Newman’s Own thing, and just put all the money into charity.

Q: He mentioned that the old Tower Records on Sunset would be a great location for the branch.

Steve Carell: Go John!

Q: And congratulations on the Emmy that you didn’t win.

Steve Carell: Thank you. That was the most joyous moment of my pretend life.

Q: Was that all prepared?

Steve Carell: No, not at all. I had no idea they were going to do that. As a matter of fact, as I was sitting next to my wife and he said it, I said, ‘I’m going to have to go up.’ And she was saying this morning, I said it with this attitude of just like, I gotta go, it has to be done, I have no choice in the matter. So I had no idea he was going to say that. That was a fun moment, and especially because those two guys are very good friends of mine. It was just a fun, silly moment.

Q: Had you seen the stuff The Office people had prepared as well.

Steve Carell: Oh that, yeah, that I knew was coming, that was planned, but the jumping up on stage was a spontaneous moment.

Q: Was the poster photo shop or was that really your head on a stack of pancakes?

Steve Carell: I’ll leave that up for you to decide.

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