What's Steve Carell's next film move? Or should we say moves?
Steve Carell already was attached to a wide range of prospective films when he was working on "The Office." Now that he'll soon be free of television constraints -- he leaves the program next month after seven seasons -- we can expect a flurry of Carell moves. Some of them may actually even become films.
Last week came reports from Deadline that the actor was in negotiations to star opposite Meryl Streep in the middle-aged marital drama "Great Hope Springs." (It's presumed to be a supporting role.) Tuesday afternoon, producers confirmed this story that Carell will star in the drama "The Dogs of Babel," an adaptation of Carolyn Parkhurst's novel about a professor who finds his wife dead in the backyard, with a dog the only witness; he attempts to speak to the canine to understand and come to terms with what happened.
Meanwhile, there remain a host of projects that Carell signed on for or expressed interest in months or even years ago: a comedy about the unlikely rock star Dennis Lambert titled "Of All the Things," a comedy about a mourning magician called "Burt Wonderstone," and of course the long-plotted "Get Smart 2." (The actor will next be seen in this summer's "Crazy, Stupid Love," a marital comedy with Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling that he finished shooting last year.)
What's interesting about Carell's more recent choices is they seem to take him in dramatic directions -- although he doesn't want to take on a role to make a statement. "I just never want to be precious or pretentious about choosing something in order to switch it up, or do a 180 just to show people what I'm capable of," he told 24 Frames when we interviewed him recently.
Still, while most of his movies have been comedies -- and hits, if modest ones, at that -- Carell received some of his strongest reviews in his most serious role, the widower drama "Dan In Real Life" back in 2007. Even his signature film role in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" ladled on the heart and some drama. His Michael Scott lunacy may have left the strongest impression, but it may not carry over to the big screen.
Photo: Steve Carell in "Evan Almighty." Credit: Mercier/Universal Studios