Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Parents' Night Out: 'Crazy Stupid Love' + Steve Carell Interview

Ian and I are big Steve Carell fans. And after "Despicable Me," CC is too.

So when I got the chance to join a conference call and ask Carell a few questions about his new movie, "Crazy Stupid Love," now in theaters, I jumped at the chance.

It wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction (OK, it mostly was), but I was also happy to put the film on my Parents' Night Out list. After all, it's about a long-married couple (Carell and Julianne Moore) with kids who are both in for a few surprises after Moore's character, Emily, announces she wants a divorce. Enter Ryan Gosling, makeovers and lots of awkward moments. In the end, though, where will their hearts actually lead them?

But enough about relationship drama, Carell wanted to chat about co-star Gosling's abs -- a topic that came up more than once.

Q: What did you enjoy most about making this movie?

Steve Carell: Ryan Gosling's abs. ... I can't tell you how many questions I've received about his body, which, frankly, makes me feel terrible. I get a lot of this: 'When are we going to see your abs in a movie?' and clearly they're just making fun of me.

Honestly, the most fun I had was working with Ryan and Julianne, specifically, because I had most of my scenes with the two of them. They're wonderful actors, and I hadn't worked with either of them before.

Q: What attracted you to this movie?

SC: I thought that it was very human and that it had real characters going through interesting life experiences, and ultimately I thought it was all very funny.

There were a lot of twists and turns in the movie that I did not see coming. And if you see the movie, within the first couple of minutes my character finds out that his wife wants a divorce and he jumps out of a car. I think reading that part where he jumps out of the car really piqued my interest because I'd never seen anything like that in a movie. And it said so much about that guy -- that he's unwilling to engage with this woman, really to the point where he would rather risk life and limb to get away from even discussing that.

Q: Is there anything you learned from the movie that you would apply to your marriage or own life?

SC: That I will never jump out of a car if my wife wants to discuss something serious with me. You know what, it's funny. I think it was sort of reversed. I think I take and apply things that I've learned in my life and apply them to scripts in movies or TV just in order to make them feel as real as possible.

And I certainly haven't gone through this scenario with my wife (Nancy Carell), but from what I've observed in life and my experience with relationships, it was important to me that -- one specific element of the script is that a couple is on the brink of divorce -- there's generally culpability on both sides of the equation, and that was really important to me -- that there is, generally speaking, not a villain in the scenario. There's usually fault and movement to be had on both sides. And I think that's something that I've learned throughout my life that I tried to apply to the movie and to the script.

And my own life? I'll tell you again, my learning stuff goes back to Ryan Gosling's abs.

Q: Would you say "Crazy Stupid Love" is a good movie for parents to see as a date night film, and can you speak to how important it is for parents to take time out for themselves in addition to spending time with their kids?

SC: I think it's an excellent date-night movie. And I completely agree. I think that to be the best parent and to be the best spouse, you have to have your own life that is different and separate than your other lives.

*laughs* I'm not saying have a secret life, but I'm saying you have to have your own interests, and ultimately a person has to feel good about themselves to be a good parent, to be a good spouse.

And this is definitely something my wife and I have learned raising our kids, that if you concentrate -- and the impulse is to put every effort into your children because that's the most important thing in your life -- but if you forget to take care of yourself, if you forget to take care of your spouse and your relationship, then you're not going to be as good a parent because you're not going to be as happy.

Q: How do you keep your kids (ages 10 & 7) grounded in L.A., and do your kids think you're as funny as we do?

SC: I think my kids are much funnier than I am. Sometimes they say things that are so funny, my wife and I don't want them to know that they've necessarily said something funny. I don't know if that makes sense, but sometimes they inadvertently say things that are ridiculous, and I don't want them to understand that that was a funny thing to say so they'll continue to say things like that.

They just think of me as their dad. I think I'm a fun dad, but I'm not a comedian dad, I'm not a performer father, and I just want to be a fun dad. I want to really define that relationship with them. Because they have their buddies at school who are their age or their cousins when they come home, but I want to have a different relationship with my children than that.

And as far as being grounded in Los Angeles, I think the toughest part of that equation is when you drive by a billboard with your face on it, and they look quizzically at it and don't really understand why there is a picture of you on the side of a bus or the side of a building, and I just don't want that to interfere with my relationship with them and to taint it in any way. Again, I just want them to think of us as their parents and what I do as a job and have it not define me, or define them.

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