Steve Carell knows a lot about comedy; there's no doubt about it. From his big-screen hits like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine to his popular television series The Office, Carell has proven over and over that he's one funny guy. But what you might not know is that Carell is also something of an expert on marriage, too.
The subject came up as Carell spoke to reporters about his new comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, which is all about a messy divorce between Carell (as Cal Weaver) and Julianne Moore (as Emily, his wife of twenty years). It's a tale of the stupid and sometimes crazy things people do in the hunt for love, and the first film from Carell's own Carousel Productions. As the producer and the star of a movie all about divorce, the irony of being a happily married man isn't lost on him.
"I don’t know [how marriage works]. I found my one and that’s all I can go by!" he said with a guffaw when asked that key question. But really, he actually does know some of the important elements to keeping a long-term marriage fresh, for he's been with Nancy Walls for almost 20 years, ever since they met while both working at Chicago's famed comedy troupe Second City. They have two children, ages 10 and 7, and have weathered her year-long stint as a regular on Saturday Night Live as well as his rise to the top of the Hollywood heap, all seemingly accomplished together without a single hiccup.
"I married way over my head!" Carell admitted wryly. "Really, I got lucky. I’ve been married 16 years and I just lucked out. I married the right person. Getting married or entering a relationship is a crapshoot. You might think you know somebody, but five years down the road things have changed, you’ve changed, they’ve changed. I guess if you can grow together, that is what makes it last."
Then throw in a little special something, and as Carell sees it, couples can stay together forever.
"I’ve always felt it was little gestures. The big ones are great, too. The grand gestures are always nice, but I think it’s those little moments that remind each other that you’re a couple and that you’re connected," he pondered.
"It sounds like the dumbest thing, but I usually wake up much earlier to get to work. I’m out the door before my wife and kids are up, but my wife sets up the coffeemaker every night before she goes to bed, because she knows I’m going to be up early. So every morning when I have a cup of coffee I think of her. It’s a dumb little thing, but it’s always in the back of my mind. It’s very sweet."
And their relationship isn't all one-sided, either.
"She’s in the shower, she’s out of time, I’ll iron her shirt for her," Carell admitted proudly.
And speaking of shirts, in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Carell's newly-single character Cal gets a wardrobe makeover from his much-younger player buddy Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who insists that women of all ages like a well-dressed man. But that movie sequence doesn't have much to do with Carell's real-life experience.
"It sounds weird to talk about my style!" Carell chortled, despite admitting to wearing a Dolce & Gabbana jacket during the interviews to promote Crazy, Stupid, Love. "But the difference between something that fits and something that doesn’t is astounding. I can’t believe I’m even talking about this! Really, I’m not well dressed at about seven at night at home. My wife and I are in sweat pants and T-shirts like clockwork. As soon as we know we’re not going out of the house again, it’s all over. It’s so much more comfortable!"
And probably part of the secret to that long and happy Hollywood marriage, too.
Jenny Peters' credits include writing on film, celebrities, parties, travel, restaurants and fashion for USA Today Weekend, the Los Angeles Daily News, Cosmopolitan, Gayot.com, Los Angeles Confidential, Buzz, and many other domestic and international publications. She currently pens the Variety VPage party column as well as the "Seen and Heard" column for that same magazine, and is the West Coast Bureau Chief of Fashion Wire Daily.