Hollywood funnyman is back with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
There’s very little Steve Carell hasn’t done. From winning a Best Actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of Michael Scott in the US version of The Office to being voted ‘America’s Funniest Man’ in Life magazine, the Massachusetts native is regarded as one of the best comedy actors in movieland. It’s a reputation set to be further enhanced when he reprises the role of Brick Tamland in the eagerly anticipated Anchorman sequel. First, though, he’s on the promotion trail for his new movie, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which is where we cornered him…
We love the Lycra and mullet wig you’re rocking in the new film. What’s it all about? Burt Wonderstone is an egomaniac! He started out as a kid with a love of magic, but now he’s made it he’s become a jaded Las Vegas douchebag and so self-centred he gets his comeuppance. He sets about redeeming himself, but it’s tricky to play a guy who’s a total jerk and not have him become completely unlikeable. I get to wear some great outfits… I don’t think it’s necessarily a Siegfried and Roy look, but more of an ’80s costume Burt thinks never went out of style and makes him look sexy. That’s why he’s still in it after all these years.
How did wearing it make you feel? Extremely [attractive]! The open-chested, tight pants look changes the way you carry yourself… I’d be walking around Vegas in character and nobody batted an eyelid. My agent couldn’t keep her eyes off me. She’s seeing a completely new person. I wear it on weekends.
Did you learn any tricks or sleight of hand for the film? A lot of kids grow up playing magician so I was excited to get a chance to learn a little bit. But to become even mildly proficient with sleight of hand takes thousands of hours of practise so I just tried to get good enough to fake it.
Illusionist David Copperfield has a cameo in the film. Were any trade secrets revealed? David actually designed some of the bigger tricks and illusions in the film, which we did uncut, without any CGI or camera trickery. But we were sworn to secrecy and had to sign a disclaimer, so if I told you how he did that I’d have to kill you.
If you could pull off one grand illusion, what would it be? I would be able to levitate and float out of the room. That would be one of the most impressive tricks ever.
David Blaine locked himself in a glass box for days. How would you cope with something like that? You never know until faced with that dilemma. We have a stunt that Burt tries in the film called The Hot Box… Being more than 50 feet up in the air looking through the Plexiglas floor, I was more concerned with my fear of heights.
What’s been your biggest feat of endurance? I used to race bicycles. After 50 miles, when your legs start falling off, that’s when you go beyond what you think you’re capable of actually doing.
What thing would you most like to make disappear in a puff of smoke? I would make intolerance go away. Nice, huh?
What’s the response to the film been like from real-life magicians? They’re not afraid of how we portray that world and they can see the fun in it. When we were getting the movie together we had a great response from the magic community. It’s definitely a club, but a very welcoming one, as we found working with David.
What was it like working with Jim Carrey? He is phenomenal. He’s crazy and sort of a genius. Steve Buscemi and I would look at each other after doing a scene with him and realise we’d both just been watching him. He’s astounding and outrageously inventive – every take is different. It’s hard to figure out how his mind comes up with the things that it does.
What was the biggest challenge on this film? Being the producer too was tough. I was watching the clock, making sure everything was on budget and trying to keep everyone happy. Frankly, I wanted to be sure everyone was having a good time. You’ve invited everyone to come and be part of it and you want them to enjoy themselves, so together we can make the funniest film we can. I think it worked out… Everybody had a ball.
What can you tell us about Anchorman 2? It’s set seven years later, at the dawn of the era of 24-hour TV news, so it’s a whole new challenge that the Channel 9 team will be facing.
Can it live up to the hype? It’s hard for anything to live up to hype. I don’t even know what kind of hype there is, but I think people who enjoyed the first one will enjoy this one. We’ve just started shooting: don’t worry, it will be equally as silly. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is in UAE cinemas from April 4.