The 10 Best Steve Carell Roles That Aren't Michael Scott

In the far-reaching pantheon of comedy stars, few possess the same sometimes-subtle, sometimes-explosive style as Steve Carell. First glimpsed by audiences as a cast member on 1996's short-lived comedy vehicle "The Dana Carvey Show," the Massachusetts-born actor grabbed the attention of comedy fans during a six-year stint as a correspondent on "The Daily Show with John Stewart." This desk time helped him transition nicely into another news-related role: the career-hungry anchor Evan in Jim Carrey's "Bruce Almighty" in 2003 before Carell showed us how goofy he could be in 2004's cult-classic "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."

However, one role beats all others when combining the many talents Carell has stuffed under his belt (that's what she said). Of course, it's Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin's cringe-king boss and America's answer to Ricky Gervais's David Brent. Throughout nine seasons of "The Office," Scott helped Carell showcase tonnes of humor and unexpected heart in a brilliant role that — for better and for worse — he'll be associated with for the rest of his life. Still, it's far from his only role of note in his filmography. The star has tackled drama as deftly as he's conquered comedy. Here, we dive into the 10 best Carell roles that aren't Michael Scott.

Gru (Despicable Me)

A movie's protagonist rarely becomes overshadowed by their sidekick. But with "Despicable Me" and its fans' fascination with the Minions contained within, that's what happened. But there's only one person that these yellow-skinned, dungaree-wearing, and gibberish-chattering characters answer to, and that's Gru — the evil genius brought to life by Carell in 2010.

For his third stint in an animated film (he'd previously lent his voice to 2006's "Over The Hedge" and 2008's "Horton Hears a Who"), Carell embraced his devilish side by playing a supervillain hellbent on stealing the Moon, doubling down on his status as world's worst guy. However, when his best-laid plans suddenly see him cross paths with a trio of young orphan children, he soon discovers an unexpected paternal side to his infamously nefarious personality.

The film was a critical hit, banking a massive $543 million worldwide against its $69 million budget and spawning two sequels with a third on the way. In addition to giving us a small handful of Minions spin-off features, it also introduced Carell's brand of humor to a younger demographic who were much too green-behind-the-ears to enjoy Scott on "The Office." Plus, with another Gru outing on the way, this trend of introducing younger viewers to Carrell shows no signs of slowing down.

Evan Baxter (Bruce Almighty)

For audiences who remained oblivious to "The Dana Carvey Show" or lived in territories where "The Daily Show With John Stewart" was hard to find on television, their first glimpse at Carell came with 2003's "Bruce Almighty." Directed by Tom Shadyac, this high-concept comedy starred Jim Carrey as Bruce, a news reporter struggling to juggle work with his personal life. Thankfully, his luck changes when God (Morgan Freeman) gifts Bruce with superpowers to do whatever he wants. But as is often the case, things don't go according to plan.

Thankfully for us, his epiphany doesn't arrive until after he has a little fun with his new abilities — some of which come at the expense of his tenacious co-anchor, Evan Baxter (Carell). With his suit and neatly combed hair, Carell certainly fits the bill of a career-eager anchorman and even manages to give comedy icon Carrey a run for his money when it comes to stealing scenes and tickling audience funny bones. (See: the sequence when a God-like Bruce uses his new skills to make Evan look and sound as unprofessional as possible while on live television.) Clearly, we weren't the only people who noticed Evan's ability to keep audiences smiling: Four years later he was given a spinoff movie, with Carell reprising his role for 2007's "Evan Almighty."

Brick Tamland (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

Carell's second most recognized performance has to be his time as air-head weatherman Brick Tamland in Adam McKay's "Anchorman" movies. The fact that his role stands out in a film filled with larger-than-life performances is an impressive feat. Will Ferrell's heightened-reality-set tale of news buffoon Ron Burgundy is as silly as it is quotable. Each of his co-stars — including Paul Rudd's sleazy roving reporter, Brian Fantana, and David Koechner's crass sports guy, Champ Kind — get their moment to shine as Ferrell takes Burgundy on a hilariously madcap career tumble.

Still, of the Channel 4 News Team ensemble (Burgundy aside), it's Carell's Tamland that gets some of the film's most fondly remembered lines like "I love lamp" and "I ate a big red candle." These are just a tasting of the goofy lines spouted by this weather guy with nothing but hot air for brains. Even when he's not spouting nonsense, the face that Carell uses for Tamland throughout both "Anchorman" movies is enough to leave you convinced that even he's not quite sure why he's smiling. Brick is a masterclass in subtle physical comedy delivered with deadpan sincerity: It's a performance that highlights why we find Carell fun to watch.

Andy (The 40-Year-Old Virgin)

Director Judd Apatow has a knack for identifying emerging comedy stars, giving them their solo movie, and watching them rise to superstar status. He did it with Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up" and with Amy Schumer in "Trainwreck" — but it was Carell that helped him kick this trend off with his 2005 debut film, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Here, Apatow placed the soon-to-be-star in the largely mundane shoes of Andy, a shy guy who's yet to find a real connection with the opposite sex. When his work pals, David (Paul Rudd), Cal (Seth Rogen), and Jay (Romany Malco), hear about this, they make it their goal to help him fix this personal problem.

Co-written by Apatow and Carell, the free-reign concept sticks Carell's reserved Andy in several awkward positions. The end result is a series of scenes that are cringy and hilarious, with Andy enduring events like speed dating, an overly-sexualized date with a bookstore assistant, and more. However, the movie's most memorable moment arrives when he's somehow talked into getting his hairy chest waxed. "Steve said, 'Just shoot me actually getting my chest waxed, because I'm very hairy, and I'm sure it would hurt," Apatow later told Vanity Fair. "Steve almost lost one of his two nipples. He was bleeding — we had to use C.G.I. technology to remove most of the blood because it was too troubling to look at." (Ouch!)

Frank (Little Miss Sunshine)

After playing over-the-top characters in "Bruce Almighty," "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," Carell switched gears to star in a low-key comedy that has become a beloved entry on his resume.

Released in 2005, "Little Miss Sunshine" is an introspective road-trip comedy from husband and wife directing duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The film cast Carell as Frank, a recently unemployed teacher struggling with depression. After a recent suicide attempt, he temporarily moves in with his sister Sheryl (Toni Collette). Soon he joins her family on an impromptu van trip to the little-miss beauty pageant that the family's youngest daughter, Olive (Abigail Breslin), wants to enter.

The journey is emotionally trying and restorative, making the disjointed family appreciate how much they need each other. For Carell, playing an introvert like Frank allowed him to showcase a more grounded and contemplative side of his on-screen personality. Watching him struggle with the rejection and fall-out from a recent break-up — and the mental health turmoil it causes — provides much of the movie's psychological depth. Performance-wise, it's a refreshing change of pace. After this showcase, he'd explore further dramatic and complex roles later in his career.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Cal (Crazy Stupid Love)

2011's ensemble rom-com "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is less of a vehicle for Carell's abundant comedy talents and more of a reflection on the complexities of love. Starring in a role that's like a sensible counterpoint to Andy from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," Carell portrays Cal, a recently divorced father struggling to renter the world of dating. After several failed encounters at a high-end bar, he eventually attracts the sympathies of local lothario Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who offers to take Cal under his slick-suited wing and help him reignite his love life.

Before long, this training starts to pay off. When Cal meets new love interest Kate (Marisa Tomei) and Jacob crosses paths with young professional Hannah (Emma Stone), both guys learn how random and unpredictable love can be. Flanked by a strong supporting cast, Carell uses "Crazy, Stupid, Love" to show a more level-headed side of his comedic abilities. Screenwriter Dan Fogelman's story keeps you guessing while leaving you with a warm feeling that romantic comedies promise but don't always deliver.

Despite starting with a painful breakup, the film uses comedy to prove how time really does heal all: "In retrospect, break-ups always feel much funnier than they do in real-time," suggested Carell while promoting the movie. He aptly added, "It's funny what time does and how it heals."

John Du Pont (Foxcatcher)

2011's "Foxcatcher" may be the closest Carell has come to star in a horror movie. His chilling performance in this feature is all the more terrifying when you remember his character was inspired by a real person. Directed by Bennett Miller, the film follows the true story of John Du Point (Carell), an heir to a multi-million dollar family fortune with no friends or constructive way to spend his free time and disposable wealth. However, this changes when he sets his sights on the world of professional wrestling and takes Olympic gold medalist siblings Mark and David Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, respectively) under his wing.

While the goal is to train the brothers through Team Foxcatcher, Du Pont quickly develops an intense bond and unhealthy fascination with Mark that drives him apart from his brother and deeper into Du Pont's sprawling home training facility. This psychologically testing friendship is put to the test by Du Point's unusual and frequently unhinged way of dealing with human interactions and eventually comes to a head during a deadly climax.

Unnerving throughout, Carell looks and sounds near-unrecognizable in his uncanny portrayal of Du Point. With a prosthetic nose, sunken eyes, and persona scarily devoid of emotion, it's a far cry from anything he's played before or since and enough to help audiences lose themselves in his performance.

Mark Baum (The Big Short)

The nitty-gritty of the real story behind Adam McKay's darkly comic "The Big Short" is too complex to get into here. Even McKay realizes how head-scratchingly baffling it can be to adequately unpack hedge funds, the dangerous inflation of the housing bubble, and the financial crisis it led to in the late noughties. That's why he resourcefully calls upon a handful of his famous friends to break the fourth wall and explain things to us in a no-nonsense way.

However, one person who needs no explanation is Mark Baum (Carell), a lowly hedge fund manager who accidentally learns that the system is about to implode, leaving countless families across America struggling financially. Flanked by an array of supporting characters played by Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, Carell's third collaboration with McKay places him as the exasperated voice of reason amid a banking system that appears to play fast and loose with its rules while skirting any responsibility for the trouble it causes.

As viewers, it's hard not to relate to Baum's spiraling disbelief at the state of the issue. His sudden determination to try and cash in and win is what initially sets the story into motion. But when his predictions finally do come true and the gravity of the situation hits home, we're left with a sinking feeling that's hard to ignore.

David Sheff (Beautiful Boy)

"Beautiful Boy" features a performance by Carell that feels as though it should've received much more critical praise. Based on two memoirs with drug addiction at their core — one by David Sheff, a father whose son was almost lost to methamphetamines, and the other by Nic Sheff, David's son who narrowly survived a relationship with substance abuse — it's a painful exploration of a strained father-son relationship with performances guaranteed to leave you teary-eyed.

Carell plays David, a father at his wit's end trying to keep his son, Nic (Timothée Chalamet), away from substance abuse. Imbued with a tangible sense of peril that only real-life threats can offer, helmer Felix van Groeningen directs Carell in a way that lures out all of the frustration, fury, worry, and concern that emerges in those close to a family member with an addiction. It's a troubling watch and underpinned by David's eventual painful realization that no matter what he does, only Nic can take the necessary steps to guarantee his salvation.

Despite pleasing many critics, the film failed to set the box office alight and remains one of Carell's more undersung performances. However, regardless of the numbers, it remains a performance that shows Carell's profound emotional depth as an actor.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Bobby Rigg (Battle of the Sexes)

Another Carell film based on real-life events is 2017's "Battle of the Sexes." The film tells the tale of two genders at war in a story that's all too relevant. Carell plays Bobby Riggs, a tennis pro and gambling addict who puts out an open-call challenge to any female professional tennis player to beat him at tennis.

Claiming he still has what it takes to better any woman player regardless of his advancing age, this call-out catches the attention of prize-winning tennis player Billy Jean King (Emma Stone), who has already dedicated a lot of time to leveling the playing field for women in the world of professional tennis. Of course, King challenges Riggs in a highly publicized match, which led the world of professional tennis to take steps towards gender equity in the sport.

Reteaming with Stone after "Crazy, Stupid, Love," "Battle of the Sexes" sees Carell use his comedy skills to shine a light on the equally ridiculous behavior of people. His performance was strong enough to earn Carell nominations at the 2018 Screen Actor's Guild and Golden Globe awards. Unfortunately, just like his on-screen alter-ego, he failed to take home the gold. Despite this, "Battle of the Sexes" remains one of his most enjoyable and button-pushing performances and definitely worth revisiting.