INT: Steve Carell & Paul Rudd
This week Daily Show alum Steve Carell looks to ascend the comedic ladder with THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN. Carell, who has drawn acclaim for scene-stealing performances in ANCHORMAN and BRUCE ALMIGHTY, finally gets a shot at the big time with his own starring vehicle. If successful, it could rocket him to dizzying, Will Ferrell heights. Let’s just hope Carell makes better choices than KICKING & SCREAMING and BEWITCHED (then again, Carell had a small role in that film himself...doh!).
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|Steve Carell||Paul Rudd|
How autobiographical is the script and how closely do you identify with the character?
Carell: I will not answer that question. (Laughs) It’s not autobiographical at all. I in fact have two children, so they are a beard. (Laughs) No, it was a notion I had that I brought to Judd last year. Essentially the pitch was the poker scene. That sequence of a guy desperately trying to keep up with these other guys telling these great sex stories and it quickly becomes apparent that he’s out of his element. And that was what I pitched to him.
with him. I identify with him in the
sense that he’s trying. He’s
doing his best to get through life and keep a good aspect and disposition going.
To keep his hopes up. But, I
think there is an underlying sadness to the character which there is to me as
well. I think there is the parallel.
I think there are elements of who I am in who this guy is but what they are I
What was your reaction when you first saw yourself on a billboard?
Carell: Very surreal. I was driving around with my daughter, who is four, and she kept asking me, “Why are you on the signs? You look stupid.” And actually we went to the mall last week. We’d been out of town for a couple of weeks, so none of these billboards were up before we left. And when we came back and they were every 100 yards I kept pointing them out to my wife, “ ! There’s one at ! Look at the bus!” So, it’s strange. It’s weird. And I love it. Universal is really promoting and really getting behind it.
you do any research for the character?
were given several case studies by Universal, which we read.
Seriously. There are quite a
few case studies documenting middle-age virginity and who these people are and
where they live and what are their likes and dislikes.
What we found to be more often then not is that they are just
normal people who for one reason or another just never did it – very similar
to the character. At some point they
just gave up on the whole notion, because it was harder to – and every time I
say something all these really bad puns start floating into the room – but it
was more difficult to keep attempting then to give up.
And so, that’s kind of the research that we did.
In terms of meeting any – not that I know of.
That’s a hard thing. It’s
not something you wear on your sleeve. Who knows how many virgins we’ve met in
our lives? (Laughs)
It sounds like they are aliens!
The government tries to hide it, but they do exist.
Carell: It wasn’t based on any, “Oh, I know this virgin guy who lives down the street and rides a bike. I’m going to do a movie on him. I hope he doesn’t come, because he’ll sue us.” It wasn’t anything like that. But what we found just reinforced what we had originally imagined. This is just a guy. This isn’t some incredibly damaged human being that for a number of reasons kind of missed the boat.
you talk about the mix of scripted elements and improv?
Carell: There was a lot going off the book. That whole run that Paul does: “You know how I know you’re gay?” that is just a perfect example of…do you want to talk to them about that?
Rudd: We were just sitting there waiting for them to set up and Seth and I were joking around. And we just started calling each other “gay” and the crew was getting upset at us, “I can’t believe they are doing this while we are shooting.” But, Judd really encouraged that. At the same time there was a script, so in terms of what is improvised and what isn’t, I don’t even really remember. The way we would shoot it was not unlike Anchorman a little bit, where we would go through the scene one time, just shoot it one time as scripted. Then it was, “Do something different.” That was literally the direction, “Do something different.” And Judd would never cut. We had a million feet of film. This is a true thing; I never realized this. If you shoot a million feet of film the film the company will buy champagne for the cast and crew. (Laughs) They do.
the very last day of shooting we went over one million feet and they stopped.
I don’t know if it was Kodak or whatever, but the film company wheeled
in an enormous tray of champagne bottles.
good champagne too, not crap. (Laughs)
how was your game with the ladies? What were your secrets?
Carell: The sodapop stand. I was a bad dater. Up until eighth grade I went to an all-boys school. So, by the time I hit high school I was a bit freaked out by women in general. And the putting them on a pedestal part of the movie – I definitely did that. I was very wary of women. Especially in high school. When I went from being a friend and started looking at a woman as a potential love interest I could not even talk to a woman. I was pretty bad. (to Rudd) I bet you were a stud.
Rudd: No, hardly. My senior year in high school I did buy a jeep to try to give off the appearance I was cool. And I grew my hair long like Michael Hutchens from INXS. I tried to rely on external things to fool girls.
Oh, I did mix my own perfume for a girl I liked.
I went to my mother’s perfume on her counter and mixed probably eight
or 10 perfumes together into a jar and I gave it to this next door neighbor.
And we’re married now. (Laughs)
Steve, the chest-waxing scene is pretty intense. Did you actually get your chest waxed?
Carell: That was 100% real. We set up five cameras, because we knew there would be one take. There would be no way of going back and doing it again. So we set up cameras – one over me, one specifically on my chest, one on the waxer. And it was not scripted. We just had an idea for where it would go. We hired a woman who was an actress/waxer, which in itself was a little daunting.
Yes, a laxtress. Because she
wasn’t a professional waxer. So,
if you watch closely there is one close up where you can see blood actually
beading to the surface. So that was
not CGI’d. And I pitched it to
Judd (Apatow) that it really should be real.
It should be legitimate waxing because I thought, to see them waxing
would probably be the funniest thing in the scene.
Because there is this guy thing where there is this sadistic nature that
men have to see other men in non-life-threatening pain – especially
self-inflicted. Like a kick in the
nuts. It’s just funny.
You can’t help laughing at it if you’re a guy.
To capture that on camera would be really amusing.
And it really was. (Laughs) Very little acting was required in that
Carell: It really did hurt. And a lot of the women in the crew were very aware of what would happen and they would say, “You sure you don’t want to trim your hair down a bit? It will hurt less. Can I give you some Advil?” And I kept saying, ‘No, no, no. I’m fine. I’m fine.’ And then halfway through I was just sweating and thought, “This is a bad idea.”
Rudd: Also, didn’t you say there is some sort of cream or oil they are supposed to use?
are supposed to put...for the nipple, a little oil over the nipple and then the
wax so your nipple doesn’t come off. (Laughs)
And they started doing that and I was like, “Hey, hey guys!
I know this at least.” So
it was a fun day. It was a day that
I both dreaded and looked forward to.
How long did it take to grow back?
took seven weeks and my wife was very happy when it eventually did, because I
looked like a freak for the longest time.
still doing Get Smart?
Carell: They are still writing it. There is an outline, but it’s still being scripted.
is one website that says that you might be playing the Joker in the next Batman
film. Is that true and would you
like to do it?
just heard that for the first time this morning. Yeah,
I’d love to do that. But I doubt
that it’s true. He’s never said
anything about that to me. So, I
think that’s completely fabricated. But
I love the rumor.
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