Now that we’ve had enough time to digest Steve Carell’s latest role in Space Force that debuted on Netflix May 29, it is time to put together an A-list of Steve Carell’s best roles.
Although Carrell has done it all, from classic comedies to heartfelt dramas, his range gets overlooked. It’s the curse of doing a role so well that you’re synonymous with that character like Daniel Radcliffe with Harry Potter or Josh Radnor with Ted Mosby.
Now don’t get me wrong here, Michael Scott is one of the most beloved characters of all time, thanks to the impact made from The Office. And since Carell has been put in that “beloved character box” at times, you just may be swayed to the light side of the force on this issue. In Steve Carell’s catalog, there is much more to choose from than you think. Did your favorite make this A-List?
10. David Sheff, Beautiful Boy (2018)
We’re swinging right out of the emotional corner with this one. Casted as David Sheff, the struggling father trying to do anything he can to bring back the Beautiful Boy he once knew, his son, Nic Sheff played by Timothee Chalamet.
In Beautiful Boy, Nic Sheff through the ringer battling his addiction to methamphetamines, which takes a toll on his father. Steve Carell hits you right in your feels as a parent. From the denial of his son’s addictive severity, to the self blaming and helplessness of doing everything in his power with nothing to show, Steve Carrell delivers a powerful performance highlighting the overall disbelief that this could happen to his Beautiful Boy.
There aren’t many actors on the planet that could make you feel the pain. In fact, there were parts of the movie where I had to stop and really digest what was happening. This is a real possibility for any parent out there, and if that’s you, prepare to appreciate everything around more, including the performance Steve Carell gave.
9. Evan Baxter, Bruce Almighty (2003)
Many may not agree with this one, and that’s fair because Carell was a side character in Bruce Almighty (all of ten minutes). Yet, even with the small amount of screen time, Steve Carell absolutely shined. How can you forget this scene?
The scene was was a classic, but not only because of the comedy duo of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, but because it was the ultimate bully karma. That is why I love Carrell in this role — it’s the only time that he’s playing a straight-up jerk.
Evan is a guy who is all-in on screwing over whoever he has to get to the top. In one of the first character’s Carell has played, many (including me) started fandoms of his associating him as an antagonist. Seeing the rest of his characters makes you appreciate what he did in this film. We may never see it again.
8. Brick Tamland, Anchorman
You already know Brick Tamland would be in here. Most people would have him higher on the list, but even though I really like the character, I’m not a super huge fan of a mindless idiot. I have to admit though, if there was a list for best mindless idiots, he would take the cake. There are few actors who could make me laugh with this exchange.
As stupid as that is, I can’t tell you how many times this scene has made me cry laughing. It’s perfect, and I love using it during real conversations. When I hear a bunch of loud arguing, I always yell, “Loud noises!” Most of the time, they don’t get it, but to those who do, we share a moment. Best part about this character was during the news team gang war he killed someone with a trident. Case closed.
7. Gen. Mark R. Naird, Space Force
As I write this article, Space Force has been getting mixed reviews, but slowly getting better now. There’s something here I think most people don’t take into consideration — this show is absolutely a joke against President Donald Trump and his administration. That’s a risk many actors wouldn’t take, especially with how petty this president can be. That’s real danger and Netflix should be commended for it.
Steve Carell has ran with the role too. I’d define him as Michael Scott who went into the Air Force instead of getting into sales. He’s hilariously dumb at times, which allows supporting characters like John Malkovich’s Adrian Mallory to shine. He does have some great moments of clarity in speeches that will make you proud.
I know comparing him to Michael Scott conflicts with his range, but we’ve been yearning for the second coming of that iconic character, and this is the closest we’ll ever get so let’s just appreciate that. That fact, along with giving us a laugh at the expense of the Trump administration gives more than enough reason to have this crack the top 10.
6. Gru, Despicable Me Franchise
The super villain turned super agent of the AVL “Anti-Villains League” is the classic evil-to-good story. The character has to come to life through Steve Carell’s hilarious Eastern European accent, and it only gets better from there.
Gru is hilarious looking with his bald head and super-sharp nose. He’s clumsy, and a new father to his adopted stepchildren along his arc. Gru makes decisions with his children that end up with hilarious consequences. He struggles with his decision to give up his life of villainy, so there is a tendency to do the wrong thing. Now you couple that with the fact that he’s a real super villain, you get a hysterical badass.
He’s nasty in hand-to-hand combat and a great shot with his futuristic guns. The best part about his character is his relationship with his minions. That’s their name, their job, and they’re super adorable. This is a top notch crime fighting, comedic animation, and a franchise that you and your children will fall in love with. Trust me.
5. Mark Baum, The Big Short
I don’t think Steve Carell searched for this role. This role found him.
Even though Carell wasn’t the main focus of the movie, he was the person who drove it home. Playing the financial investor Mark Baum, he figures out through Jared Vennett (played by Ryan Gosling) that the housing market is built on a bubble and is ready to collapse soon. The idea is to bet against the banks, and make money off millions of people not being able to pay their mortgages and losing their homes.
It’s a bet the banks will easily accept because that’s never happened in American history. That weighs heavily on Baum because you’re betting on hopes this terrible scenario happens. Carell’s character picks up steam toward the middle of the movie where they go to investigate if there’s a chance of this actually happening. When he sees that this is more of a possibility, he starts to get angry, which brings out a natural comedic side of his. It’s like when your dad is so mad, that he’s funny. The angrier they get, the funnier they are, and that’s exactly what happens here.
Each stop they make, it becomes a foregone conclusion the housing market will collapse, which is key to his character. Every time he talks to these arrogant people who think they’re untouchable, he gets more serious, and hilarious. This all comes to head when he has a debate against Alan Greenspan. His scenes are must-see here.
4. Andy, The 40 Year Old Virgin
Now this is the movie that started it all for me.
Judd Apatow teamed up with Steve Carell and delivered one of the best comedies of the 21st century. This was the launching pad for all the great Apatow movies like: Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Stepbrothers. All classics.
What made The 40 Year Old Virgin so special is what Carell was able to do for his supporting characters. He made himself an easy target for jokes and ridicule. He was the perfect version of what a healthy middle-aged virgin would be. Not a guy that lives in his mom’s basement, but a guy who gave up on women and love. His lines in this movie were some of the most quotable you can find. These exchanges will never be lost in time.
This last one is my favorite exchange of the movie, coming out of left field. It’s almost awkward in delivery, but so perfect for the Andy character. You hear him hesitate as if he’s never said those words before. There’s a lot more that I haven’t given up to you yet, so if for some crazy reason, you haven’t seen this, go! If you have, you already know. It’s a five-star comedy in my eyes and I don’t think Carell will be able to beat it on the comedic big screen.
3. John Du Pont, Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher truly displays Steve Carell’s acting range, who plays the psychotic millionaire John du Pont. This man spends his life (and fortune) seeking the admiration and respect of his peers by funding his own wrestling team to win the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. He wanted to be called “Coach,” even though he has no wrestling experience and didn’t coach anything.
Now I don’t use the word psychotic lightly. Carell’s character is delusional, arrogant, and selfish. He hallucinates frequently, which lends itself to him becoming a ticking time bomb. For the most part, his voice and demeanor resembled sedation. Watching him in this made me uncomfortable — not because it was cringe, but because it was so spot-on to the real person.
Watching him kill someone was hard, but Carell is so good that you don’t even see Carell, you see du Pont. This is the most serious role Steve Carell has ever done, and he did on the biggest stage. He’s incredible in it, and definitely worthy of a top-three finish.
2. michael scott, the office
The OG, Michael Gary Scott, the character launched Steve Carell into the spotlight and the reason why I compiled this list. Carell is so recognized as this character that there are people who know him more as Michael Scott than they do as Steve Carell. That’s not a bad thing either.
He’s become a cultural phenomenon, and is beloved more and more as the years go by. Now one of the most famous comedies of all time, The Office was at its peak when Carell was at the helm. If you took a poll, and asked what show would everyone want to bring back, I’d put the house on The Office with Steve Carrell as regional manger.
He somehow took a character who was selfish, childish, and ignorant, and made him one of the most beloved comedic characters ever. That’s magic. Just go down your saved memes and GIFs, and tell me that you don’t have one or more of Michael Scott. Don’t lie. You know you do. Everything he did on the show was memorable.
From lines like “that’s what she said,” to the faces he would make especially when Toby did, or said something. His style of comedy during the show wouldn’t fly today. The PC police would arrest the character on sight. That fact actually makes you appreciate the show even more because we may not see that type of comedy again.
1. Cal Weaver, Crazy, Stupid, Love
Look, I know the conventional lists would either have Michael Scott or Andy sitting at number one. Not me. Cal Weaver is the best character Steve Carell has ever played. This movie has five stars written all over it with Carrell at the center. He shines as a plain ol’ middle-aged man who finds out over weekly dinner that his wife has been cheating on him and wants a divorce.
On their way home, his wife Julianne Moore tried to talk about what happened and why it led to this but he doesn’t want to hear it. He literally jumps out of a moving car. After their divorce is finalized, he moves out and starts going to a high-end bar. He doesn’t know what to do with his life at the moment, looking lost, and pitiful. Carell delivers it so well that you want to jump in the movie and help him somehow.
Luckily, help finds him in local ladies man (Ryan Gosling) who decides he is going to help Weaver find the man he used to be. The man that married the girl of his dreams and was someone worthy of that love. Carrell transforms from zero to hero. From a man who looks as if the life was zapped out of him, to a guy in whom women take notice. The montage of Steve Carell gaining that confidence from getting new clothes with Gosling, to picking up women is nothing short of hilarious.
Once he gets his confidence back, he figures out that he was a part to blame for his wife cheating, and decides that he’s going to get her back. It leads into a hilarious fight that ultimately sets him back to square one.
With no hope left, he attends his sons middle school graduation and sits alone. He starts to hear his sons speech about how true love isn’t real, and only fools go after it. Carell stops him in the middle, goes down there in front of everyone, and delivers a beautiful speech that brings the whole movie together. Overall, this his best performance in my eyes. It had a little bit of everything, and his performance put it over the top. There’s a brilliant message in this movie, and we should all carry it through life. “Be better than the GAP.”
That wraps up my top 10 Steve Carrell roles. Don’t be afraid to agree, or disagree with it. Let me know what you think, and what roles have been left out, or what could be switched. Hope you enjoyed, latah!
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