Word on the street is that Steve Carell is nice and normal guy, and Friday night’s SBIFF tribute to the actor revealed that he’s quite happy and humble as well.
In fact, during the first few minutes of his two-hour interview with film critic Pete Hammond, he immediately took issue with being known as “nice” and “normal,” lamenting that those characteristics are against the norm in Hollywood and beyond. Carrell’s proud normality shined through the night into the post-party in the Hennessy-sponsored lounge behind the Arlington Theater as well, where he mingled with the rest of us far longer than any star of this year’s fest.
After arriving to rousing applause and sweet catcalls, Carell’s talk with Hammond covered all of his acting bases, from Flirting With Disaster and Anchorman to his latest turn as the troubled John du Pont in Foxcatcher, for which he is in the running for the Academy Awards’ coveted best actor Oscar. Carell’s conversation proved engaging on all fronts, from his early days as a Second City comedian in Chicago to his Steve Colbert-aided rise to fame via The Daily Show. Hammond and the crowd applauded his varied and smart choices of roles, bopping between comedic turns and more dramatic roles, ever towing the thin line between comedy and tragedy.
Upon accepting SBIFF’s “Outstanding Performer of the Year Award” from colleague and friend Jennifer Garner — whose own little speech was quite hilarious and touching — Carell said, in turn funny-meets-real form, “If I could take one thing away from this tonight, it is that finally everyone agrees that I’m a genius.” He then read a ripping review of his role in a 1998 show Over the Top, in which he was considered more revolting than bodies in a morgue, and accepted the award in spite of that.
“This is such a great privilege to be here and to be chosen,” he said. “It’s been quite a year do me, and I am trying to soak it all in and take these mental photographs. It’s a special time.”
Carell ended his time on stage with a call and response, hoping that the crowd knew what to do.
“Thank you for coming,” he yelled.
“That’s what she said!” we all replied.