How Steve Carell brings real-life stories to the big screen


After depicting several real-life people in movies, Steve Carell explained how he captures a person’s persona.

“It is weird, meeting someone in person that you are playing that exists in this world,” the actor, 56, explained during a conversation at the 92nd St. Y on Thursday night.

“To sit down and have a coffee with David Sheff from ‘Beautiful Boy,’ you don’t want him to feel like he is your science experiment, that you are picking apart how he eats his soup [and thinking,] ‘Oh I’m going to put that in the movie, that’s just creepy,” he explained of one of his latest dramatic roles. “I don’t like to approach it that way because they’re human beings and this is their story and I want to have more respect for them than that.”

Carell spoke as part of the 92nd Street Y’s “Reel Pieces” film series moderated by author Annette Insdorf.

“When I meet them, in part, I just want them to know who I am too and that I’m going to take great care with their story and their persona in a way,” he said. “I just want to get a sense of who they are, not so much their personality ticks or quirks, just what they emulate.”

He continued, “David Sheff is just a quiet, peaceful, very intelligent but soft-spoken man and very generous and those are the things that I tried to take away, its a strange thing.”

The actor also revealed that while promoting the film — which was released in October and also stars Timothée Chalamet — his niece died of a drug overdose, giving him a closer connection to the film.

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