Steve Carell might love lamp, but there’s a good chance awards bodies will be loving his Foxcatcher performance in 2014.
“I love carpet. I love desk. I love lamp.” That line has become synonymous with Anchorman, or more specifically with Brick Tamland. A quote uttered a thousand times is from one of Steve Carell’s most memorable roles. But Carell’s latest part has been met with critical acclaim and early nods towards Academy success, a far cry from his intellectually-challenged weatherman. Carell has made his bread and butter with mediocre comedies, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Evan Almighty to The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but these films were easy gags, easy viewing and, for the most part, completely inoffensive and forgettable.
In The Office, Carell delivered some of the most touching drama American sitcoms have seen this side of the Friends finale
That being said, Carell has big comedy chops. He cut his teeth on SNL and had a six-year stint on The Daily Show. Not to mention seven fantastic seasons portraying Michael Scott, the self proclaimed World’s Best Boss on The Office, and voicing Gru in the fourth highest grossing film of 2013, Despicable Me 2. But early footage of Carell’s John du Pont in Foxcatcher shows him as intense, dark and morose, Carell playing a character that couldn’t be further from the lazy imbecile of Scott. So is Carell facing a career shift in proportion with the McConaissance, going from average to Oscar-worthy in one fell swoop?
It’s clear he’s capable of it. Little Miss Sunshine showed Carell was able to play tougher roles, he giving a great performance as the troubled Frank. Battling with inner torment after a recent suicide attempt, it’s a far cry from shouting “loud noises” as Anchorman’s Brick. His run as Michael Scott was superb, bringing his innate ability to be funny to the role whilst also delivering some of the most touching drama American sitcoms have seen this side of the Friends finale.
Carell made Michael an irritant, and delivered cringe comedy the likes of Ricky Gervais and Larry David would be proud of. But all the while Carell managed to carry the role with just enough redeeming qualities – his loyalty to Dunder Mifflin and the adoration of his staff brought us to love him. In return he brought us moments that could bring us to tears. If Carell could bring this much to a basic sitcom character, imagine what he can do when let loose with 120 minutes of screen time and direction from Bennett Miller, the man who directed the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman to Academy glory in Capote.
Vanity Fair has said that Carell is “now entering a new category altogether: dramatic actor with substantial Oscar buzz”
The similarities between the two films, Foxcatcher and Capote, are noteworthy; both are biographical retellings starring proven actors with bags of potential. Both actors went through physical and vocal transformations for the role, becoming nearly unrecognisable (whilst not turning to caricature). Miller followed Capote with Moneyball, which earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Actor and Supporting Actor, and if early indications are anything to go by, Foxcatcher could be in for the same treatment. And most prominent has been the hype around Carell.
The Hollywood Reporter has said: “from the beginning you can’t take your eyes off Carell,” while Vanity Fair has said that as an actor he is “now entering a new category altogether: dramatic actor with substantial Oscar buzz.” It’s certainly exciting to see so many positive responses to Carell’s performance, especially this early on. More exciting still is the potential avenues it will open up for his career – with this his first lead dramatic role, surely the only way is up for Steve.
Featured image: Sony Pictures Classics
Inset image: Fox Searchlight Pictures