“Nothing to me feels as good as laughing incredibly hard” —Steve Carell
Steve Carell has had one of the more unique journeys when it comes to actors who have gone on to forge successful careers in the entertainment industry. He started at the bottom and slowly rose to the top thanks to hard work and never giving up on his dreams. He experienced success and failure but didn’t quit, and was well into his 40s before landing the one-two punch of a starring role on a hot TV show and in a blockbuster movie in the same year! After winning over critics and audiences, he didn’t look back and kept impressing, improving and evolving, taking his career from goofball comedy roles to more serious Oscar fare. There are very few actors today who are as versatile as Carell, and to top it all off, fame hasn’t gotten to his head, as he is reportedly one of the nicest guys in the biz. Here are 49 versatile facts about Steve Carell.
Steve Carell Facts
49. Little White Lie
Steve Carell had to lie for months about his involvement in the series finale of The Office because he didn’t want the last episode ever to be about his character, Michael Scott, or to take any of the thunder or attention away from the rest of the cast. Luckily, everyone involved lied too, so he wasn’t alone.
48. Too Funny to Fail
When the American version of The Office was announced, people had no idea that it would become the beloved juggernaut of a sitcom that it eventually did. Many fans of the original were convinced that it would be an instant failure. People were so sure that it would immediately get canceled that some actors turned down roles, and even Carell’s friends told him he was crazy to do it.
47. Not Exactly What They Were Going for
The 40-Year-Old Virgin may be a classic now, but it got off to a rough start with the executives at Universal. After seeing some early footage, they were concerned that Carell was coming off as less of a sympathetic character and more of a serial killer. So, rather than address the issue by changing the character drastically and possibly having to reshoot scenes, they had the characters joke how creepy he comes off that in the movie.
46. Keep It to Yourself
To prepare for his role as a magician in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Carell spent time with David Copperfield, who taught him how to perform “The Hangman” magic trick. Don’t ask Carell how it’s done though, as he was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
45. Tough Competition
When Steve’s wife Nancy Carell got an audition for Saturday Night Live he went with her to New York and ended up getting to audition too. She wound up getting hired and Steve’s slot was filled by the equally talented Will Ferrell—and honestly, where would ‘90s SNL be without Ferrell? However, it should be noted that whether or not Carell actually auditioned is up for debate.
44. He Said, She Said
Saturday Night Live’s creator—Lorne Michaels—stated in an interview that Carell auditioned for SNL and he regrets not hiring him. However, Carell tweeted he never auditioned and claimed that an SNL monologue he gave once as a host where he mentioned auditioning for the show was just a joke. We should obviously take Carell at his word, right? Then again, he has been known to troll fans on Twitter before—but who would be ballsy enough to troll Lorne Michaels!?
43. This Is Not a Good Look for Me!
Carell had a mustache for most of high school and college, mainly because he thought he looked good with one. He also used it as an intimidation tactic for when he played lacrosse in high school, as he thought opposing players would be scared of him. They weren’t.
42. Voice Recognition
Carell would eventually find his way on to SNL, twice as a host and a few more times as somewhat of a recurring cast member when he provided the voice for one of the animated characters in The Ambiguously Gay Duo sketches alongside Stephen Colbert.
41. Good Place to Start
Before joining Second City, Carell would get his start in improv in college as a member of the oldest collegiate improv group in the country, Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company. To this day, he’s still considered the most famous graduate.
40. Tell Us How You Really Feel
One reviewer hated Carell’s performance so much in the TV sitcom Over The Top that she described it as being worse than all of her horrible life experiences combined, which included seeing “a man’s scalp pulled back over his nose.” That review was a little extra, but at least Carell got the last laugh years later when he read the review aloud on the Late Show with David Letterman.
39. Beat Him to the Punch
Carell was cast to play Harvey Milk in the biopic The Mayor of Castro Street, and no, that wasn’t a working title for the Sean Penn-starring movie Milk before it came out. This was a completely different film with the same premise. So, unfortunately for Carell, Penn’s version came out first and his got scrapped.
38. Do You Swear to Tell the Truth?
Carell received a degree in History in 1984 from Denison University, one which he intended to follow up by attending law school. However, he couldn’t get past the application stage. When he was filling it out, he got to a straightforward question asking why he wanted to be a lawyer. He couldn’t answer it, so he looked for a new path in life instead.
37. Not Afraid to Commit
Carell flexed his improv muscles more than once on the set of The Office, but one of the highlights came when his character was supposed to peck the character of Oscar on the cheek. Instead, Carell went all out and kissed him on the lips, leading to one of the funniest and most cringe-worthy moments of the entire series.
36. I Didn’t Do It
Carell, or better yet, Michael Scott, got unintentionally caught up in a terrible judgment call made by the New Zealand Police’s Twitter account. After a horrible highway traffic accident, the account tweeted, “When we have to tell someone their family member has died in a crash” and bookended it with a gif of Scott saying, “This is the worst!” from The Office. The tweet was quickly deleted, but thanks to screenshots, wasn’t quickly forgotten.
35. That’s What Helmets Are for
Carell once told the Hollywood Reporter that the worst thing that ever happened to him in his life was an incident when he was 12 years old where he got knocked unconscious by a hockey puck that hit him right in between the eyes.
34. From the Stage to the Screen
Carell’s breakout movie, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, was based on a character he did at Second City, which was a guy telling his friends that he’s never had sex before. He pitched the film idea to Judd Apatow, who loved it. They immediately sold it to Universal and co-wrote the script together.
33. What’s so Funny?
Carell’s recent turn from comedy films to drama films may seem odd to most fans of the actor, but in his mind, it’s completely normal. He doesn’t see himself as a comedian, or generally that funny at all. So, basically the opposite of Michael Scott.
32. Money Down the Drain
In 2009, Carell purchased the Marshfield Hills General Store in Marshfield, Massachusetts to preserve it as a landmark. Carell’s sister-in-law, Tish Vivado, runs it and Carell drops-in from time to time in the summer. However, he’s not shy about talking about his regret at having bought it—he’s stated a few times that it was a terrible investment.
31. Can’t Get Enough of Each Other
Steve and Nancy have appeared in and worked on multiple projects together. They were both correspondents for The Daily Show, Nancy played his girlfriend in a few episodes of The Office, and she had minor roles in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. They also created the TV show Angie Tribeca together.
30. The First Idea Isn’t Always the Best Idea
Carell had a few odd jobs here and there before breaking into acting, but one that stands out for him was working in the produce department of a supermarket as a teenager, which he was terrible at it. Aside from constantly burning his hand on a heat pad, he once accidentally poked a hole in a bag of popcorn and used a pricing gun to cover it up with multiple price tags. His manager found it right after.
29. Family Name
Steve’s family name was originally Caroselli, but his father changed it to Carell before Steve was born. If it was up to him though, he would have kept Caroselli, as he thinks people wouldn’t misspell it nearly as much as Carell.
28. Parent’s Just Don’t Understand, Until They Do
Carell credits his parents for convincing him to pursue acting as a career, as they were always supportive of him, even after he told them he didn’t want to become a lawyer. He thought he owed them a “legitimate” career but they told him to just do whatever makes him happy. He loved acting and hockey, but only saw a career in the former, and went with that.
27. Windy City
Carell moved to Chicago to pursue acting, rather than Los Angeles or New York, because he found the bigger cities intimidating and was worried he’d get lost in the shuffle.
26. Measuring Success
In Carell’s mind, he made it as an actor long before The 40-Year-Old Virgin or The Daily Show. He knew he made it in 1988—yes, 1988, he’s been around that long—when he could quit his job waiting tables and pay his bills solely from the money he made acting.
25. Thanks for Nothing!
Before he landed his career-defining role in The Office, Carell’s agent told him, “If something doesn’t happen soon, you should get out of the business.” Not the most encouraging words, which is why it should come as no surprise that she is no longer his agent.
24. Just a Taste
Carell only saw a portion of the pilot for the original British version of The Office so he could get the tone of the show, but quickly stopped watching so he could create his own version of the manager of Dunder Mifflin and not try to copy Ricky Gervais’ version.
23. Easing the Pain
To help the cast and crew get through Carell’s emotional final few weeks of filming The Office, the producers brought in treats and even masseuses to give people massages in between takes. Then, after Carell filmed his last scene, they celebrated with a three-foot-tall cake.
22. Farewell Gifts
Carell and the cast of The Office exchanged gifts on his last day of shooting. Most were personal and kept private, but director Paul Feig shared with the media that he gave Carell a desk clock that had a Dr. Seuss quote engraved on it that said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
21. May the Best Man Win
Carell and Colbert both saw each other at the audition for The Dana Carvey Show, and both of them immediately thought that they had lost out because the other was funnier and would inevitably get the part. It never crossed their minds that they would both get hired, which is what ended up happening.
20. Band Geek
Carell can play the baritone horn and the fife, two instruments he claims are, “the least sexy instruments in the world.” He even showed off his fife skills on The Jonathan Ross Show.
19. It’s Steven but My Friends Call Me Steve
Carell’s on-screen debut came in 1991 in the John Hughes movie Curly Sue, where he was credited with his full name, Steven Carell. He would be credited with that name one more time for the TV movie Life As We Know It! before dropping the ‘N’ and going with Steve.
18. An Ironic Way to Spend the Day
Carell and his wife celebrated their 17 year wedding anniversary by filming a break-up scene for the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
17. Star Power
Carell was awarded star number 2,570 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 6, 2016. Carell’s friends Adam McKay and Will Ferrell accompanied him and helped him unveil the star.
16. The Puck Stops Here
Before Carell decided to pursue acting, one of his other passions in life was playing hockey. He was a goalie, and a talented one at that, as he had the opportunity to go to a Division I school and fight for a starting spot. However, he didn’t see a future in it and went to Denison University instead, but still played for fun.
15. Google It
Seriously, he played as a goalie at the NCAA level! He even has a page on the hockey database website Elite Prospects. There are no stats on it, but he’s still on there, which makes it official.
14. No Stunt Double Needed
Carell has showcased his hockey skills twice on screen, once in a sketch for The Dana Carvey Show called “Hockey Perfectionist,” and one more time on The Office. Carell even still plays hockey today in a pick-up league in Los Angeles with his brother.
13. Not the Best Record
Carell was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe six years in a row for his portrayal of Michael Scott on The Office, but out of the 12 total nominations, he only won once, getting a Golden Globe in 2006. Overall, Carell has been nominated for 126 awards and has won 33 of them.
12. Role Reversal
Carell was one of the hosts of an uncensored version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. In retrospect, he probably should have flipped roles with the original version’s host, Bob Saget, considering Saget’s comedy is much dirtier than Carell’s.
11. Sad Times
Carell’s mother passed away in 2016 on the eve of Mother’s Day, at the age of 90. His tweet on that day was just as heartfelt, but certainly a bit more somber than other celebrities.
10. Failure Isn’t Always Bad
Carell was in three failed sitcoms before getting The Office, and only landed the role thanks to the failure of one of those shows. He had a prior commitment to a show called Come to Papa, so Bob Odenkirk was cast as Michael Scott instead. However, when Come to Papa got canceled and Carell was available, they ditched Odenkirk and went with him. Odenkirk still got a chance to play a Michael Scott-esque character on the show, when Pam interviewed with him for a position in Philadelphia on the final season of the show.
9. Just Like in Sports
Being the lead on The Office meant that Carell was always first on the call sheet for every day of shooting. So, when he left the show after the seventh season, the producers gave him a hockey jersey with the number one on it, and ended up retiring that number on the call sheet.
8. Life Advice
Carell gave a moving commencement speech to the graduates of Princeton University—one of whom was his niece—in 2012 that ended with some random thoughts that were both humorous and inspirational.
7. He Performs His Own Stunts
Carell fully committed to his role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin by having his chest waxed for real, so his reaction would be authentic. It resulted in the most memorable scene in the movie but almost cost him a nipple in the process!
6. Was It Worth It?
Waxing his chest for real was a nice touch, but it had real-life implications. To keep up with the continuity while filming, Carell had to continuously shave his chest, which led to ingrown hairs and a nasty rash. It got so bad that Nancy couldn’t look at it anymore and made him constantly wear a T-shirt.
5. Carrey-ing on the Tradition
Carell might have got in over his head when he starred in Evan Almighty, the follow-up to the Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty. While Bruce Almighty was banned in Egypt for being sacrilegious, Evan Almighty was nearly banned in Malaysia for the same reason. It was one of the most expensive comedies of all time, and it also ran into allegations that the animals on set had been mistreated. All that trouble for just a 23% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. So Wrong That It’s Right
Carell was chosen for the role of the creepy John du Pont in Foxcatcher because he was such an unlikely choice that it somehow made him the perfect choice. The director claimed that because du Pont was so unpredictable, he wanted to cast someone that no one would ever imagine playing that role, and it’s fair to say that no one could have predicted Carell would be so amazing playing such a creepy character. Carell went full method for the role, and didn't really interact with his co-stars or the crew on set, and Mark Ruffalo has even said that he found Carell "terrifying" while filming the thriller.
3. Someone’s Invitation Got Lost in the Mail
Carell claims the hardest job he’s ever had was working as a postal carrier in Massachusetts. He had to use his own vehicle and ended up quitting after four months, only to discover a few months later a bunch of mail underneath his seat that he never delivered.
2. Ross Gellar Levels of Flirting
Steve and Nancy are both apparently terrible at flirting. When they first met at Second City—where Steve was a teacher and Nancy his student—instead of just asking Nancy on a date, he told her, “If I were to ever ask someone out, it would be someone like you.” Her response was, “If somebody like you were to ask me out, I would definitely go out with him.” This went on for months until Nancy finally asked him out. Now we know where some of the inspiration for the Michael Scott/Holly Flax relationship must have come from.
1. Cheap Shot
Carell nearly broke the Internet in 2017 when he tweeted that The Office—which had been off the air since 2013—was returning, only to follow it up by saying he meant Will & Grace. He then used the classic “I was hacked” excuse and blamed his office nemesis Toby Flenderson.