Possessing a sort of surreal, outlandish, and childish comic persona that is only enhanced by his deceptively straight-laced appearance, comic performer Steve Carell first gained a faithful following thanks to an enduring run as a correspondent on the popular Comedy Central news satire series The Daily Show. Though Carell had been performing on the small screen in such shows as The Dana Carvey Show and Over the Top since the early '90s, it was his grating but hilariously obnoxious reports on The Daily Show that truly made him a talent to watch.
A native of Concord, MA, and an alumni of Chicago's famed Second City comedy troupe, Carell gained early experience with stints at the Windy City's Goodman and Wisdom Bridge Theaters. Following his feature debut in the 1991 comedy Curly Sue, Carell made a name for himself in television as a writer/performer on The Dana Carvey Show. In the years that followed, he would frequently alternate between film and television, and he continued to do so after joining the cast of The Daily Show in 1999. Sharp-eared television viewers would recognize Carell as the voice of crime-fighter Gary (a role that he played opposite Daily Show co-star Stephen Colbert) on Saturday Night Live's popular TV Funhouse segment "The Ambiguously Gay Duo." Following roles in such little-seen features as Tomorrow Night and Suits, Carell would return to the small screen for a key supporting role in ex-Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus' short-lived sitcom Watching Ellie.
In 2003, Carell nearly stole the show from comic megastar Jim Carrey with his role as an obnoxious television newscaster in the heavenly comedy Bruce Almighty, before once again stepping into a faux television studio to portray cerebrally challenged weather forecaster Brick Tamland in the 2004 Will Ferrell vehicle Anchorman. Carell then stepped out of the newsroom and into cubicle-land for the lead in NBC's American remake of the popular British sitcom The Office, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 2005. Carell also made a brief but indelible cameo opposite Anchorman co-star Ferrell in the big-screen adaptation of Bewitched.
Carell's Anchorman colleagues also aided him in realizing his breakout role, later that same summer: the hapless innocent title character of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Written by Carell and co-scripted and directed by Anchorman producer Judd Apatow, the raunchy-yet-sweet comedy had an inauspicious August release, yet its bawdy, adult-oriented laughs resonated with much of the same audience that made The Wedding Crashers an R-rated success story just a few weeks prior. Like Ferrell before him, Carell suddenly found himself in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose from a number of high-priced, high-profile comedic starring roles, among them the Bruce Almighty sequel Evan Almighty. Heavily budgeted and promoted, Evan was one of summer 2007's big disappointments, an effects-driven comedy that made a decent sum at the box office, although not nearly enough to cover its swollen cost. Carell scaled things back somewhat for the character-driven dramedy Dan in Real Life later that year. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi