‘I didn't try to get overly caffeinated': Steve Carell on 'Despicable Me'

0

Comments

Add +

The Hollywood comedy megastar on the joys of voice artistry and why he wants to keep his options open for the future.

American everyman comedy actor Steve Carell rose to fame on the back of a string of film-stealing supporting turns in comedies such as ‘Anchorman’ and ‘Bruce Almighty’. Now you can’t avoid his starring roles. This year we’ve seen him in such high-concept, knockabout farces as ‘Date Night’ and ‘Dinner for Schmucks’, and this week we’re going to get to hear (but not see) him again as the voice of dastardly super villain Gru in the animated film, ‘Despicable Me’, in which he goes up against an evil upstart in a race to steal the moon.

How did you decide on the Russian-inflected voice of Gru, the super villain you play? Was it politically motivated?
‘Oh, absolutely not. There was no political motivation whatsoever. We were just looking for an accent that would be fun, and kind of accessible. I didn’t want to depict a nationality of a specific country, I just wanted it to sounds like a nebulous accent. And in the same sense, I don't think its important where he's from, just to create an aura about him. We just played around. That’s the accent that I went in with, and they liked it, and we tinkered with it and spent a couple of work sessions honing on it.’

Were there any inspirations? Maybe subtle hints of Peter Sellers?
‘Someone referred to it as a hybrid of Bela Lugosi and Ricardo Montalban. People compare it to lots of different accents and voices. I wanted to cast a wide net. There were no conscious inspirations. I just wanted it to sound menacing, but not overly so.’

Is voice artistry limiting for you as a performer?
‘I think its actually very freeing. You can try anything and you have an enormous freedom to fail. The tricky part is giving enough options, a wide enough spectrum of performance to go with the other performances. You don't know what the other actors are going to be doing, so you have to give the director varying reads on every line. So that was my goal: to give them countless ways of editing it in with the other actors. But I don't see it as limiting at all. It's fun, because whenever you put perceived limitations on a performance, I think you can expand in other ways. If you just focus on the voice you can play with it, you can paint a picture with just that.'

You’re known for your improvisatory style. Did that come in to play here?
‘Absolutely. The directors didn't hold us to the script at all. They encouraged us to go off the playsheet as much as we could.’

Do you have any special preparation techniques, like drinking lots of Red Bull?
‘I didn't try to get overly caffeinated here. It is fiddly though because this was done over the course of three years. So the trick for me is to try to match the voice sessions I'd done maybe months previously. Sometimes they'd play me a bit of the last session to get me up to speed as to where I was, where the accent was, what the character was doing, and that would get me in the zone, energy-wise.’
 
There are rumours you are going to be in ‘The Abstinence Teacher’, the new film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris who directed you in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’?

‘That was one of those things that appeared online that there was no truth to. I’m familiar with the story, but it wasn't true. Sandra Bullock and I were attached, but I would love to work with Dayton and Faris again.’

Would any non-comedy roles interest you?
‘Sure. I try not to be pretentious about that. I don't want to do a part just to show people that I'm capable of it. I'd take a part if it’s good or potentially entertaining or something unique or interesting. But not specifically, I’m not targeting any particular style of film.’

You now produce a lot of the films you star in. Do you have any ambitions to direct?
‘I've directed a few episodes of “The Office”… Maybe, but it feels like such a cliché, especially for a comedic actor, to say “Well what I really want to do is a serious dramatic turn' or, on top of that, 'My heart will really be fulfilled when I direct!' Perhaps at some point I’d like to, but I think it should be an extension of what I’m doing already rather than to prove a point to people. But if the right thing came along I would, definitely.’

Read our review of ‘Despicable Me

Author: Interview: David Jenkins



Users say

0 comments


Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’