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August 2005
The 40 Year Old Virgin: An Interview with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd

The 40 Year Old Virgin: An Interview with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd

By Wilson Morales

Steve Carell is being groomed to be the next great comedian. The guy is talented and funny but has yet to demonstrate that to an audience on a wider level. We have seen him in other films, but mostly in mostly in supporting roles (Melinda and Melinda, Bruce Almighty, Bewitched) and the American version of the acclaimed British television series, "The Office". Paul Rudd has a certain charm that's appealing. His boyish looks are helped him land parts on "Friends" and "P.S." and "Clueless". Coming out on August 19th is "The 40 year old virgin" in which Steve's character is ridiculed by his friends being celibate for so long and they try to get him to lose his virginity. In speaking to blackfilm.com, both Steve and Paul talked about their experiences in dealing with virginity and women.

What is your game like with the ladies? Where would you try to make a move?

Steve: The soda pop game stand. I was a bad dater, and up until the 8th grade I went to an all-boys school, so by the time I hit high school, I was a bit freaked out about women in general. The putting them on a pedestal part of the aspect of the movie, I definitely did that. I was very weary of women, especially in high school. As soon as I went from being a friend and started looking at a woman as a potential love interest, I could not even talk to a woman. I was pretty bad.

Paul: (looking at Steve) I'd bet you were a stud.

Steve: Hardly.

Paul: By my senior year in high school, a jeep tried to give up the appearance that I was kinda cool. I grew my hair long like Michael Hutchens from INXS. I just relied on external things to try and fool girls.

Steve: Oh, I did mix my own perfume for a girl I liked. I went to my mother's perfume on her counter and I mixed probably 8 or 9 perfumes together into a jar and I gave it to this next door neighbor and were married now. No, not true at all.

How autobiographical is the script and I closely did you identify with the character?

Steve: It's not autobiographical at all. I, in fact, have two children, so they are a beard. No, it was a notion that I had that I brought to Judd last year. Essentially the pitch was the poker scene; that sequence of a guy desperately trying to keep up with these other guys who are telling these great sex stories and it quickly becomes apparent that he's out of his element and that was what I pitched to him.

How closely do you identify with that character?

Steve: I identify with him. I identify with him in a sense that he's trying. He's doing his best to get through life and keep a good aspect of disposition going and keep his hopes up; but I think there's an underlying sadness to the character, which in fact there is to me. I think there's a parallel. I don't know. I think there are elements of who I am and this is, but the specific ones, I don't know.

What was your reaction when you saw your first billboard? How is it to see your face everywhere?

Steve: Very surreal. I was driving around with my daughter, who's four, and she kept asking me, "Why are you on the signs? Why is your face, you look stupid" and actually we drove around; we went to the mall last week and we had out of town for a couple of weeks, so when we left, none of these billboards were up and when we came back, they were every hundred yards and I kept pointing them out to my wife, "Twelve o'clock, there's one at two o'clock, look at the bus." It's strange, it's weird and I love it. Universal (Pictures) is really promoting it. They really seem to getting behind it.

Paul: When I first saw it, I was just so thrilled that the Universal marketing department absolutely got it right. They never do, marketing departments. It seems that if you see the poster, you like, "Ugh, God, they all look the same now". When I first saw the poster, I said, "Yes". I couldn't stop laughing. It was the funniest picture in the world.

Steve: It's pretty stupid. I'm thinking about that as my head shot from now on.

Did you do any research for your character? Did you talk to any actual 40 year old virgins? What advice would you give to a man or a woman who is still a 40 year old virgin?

Steve: To answer the first part, we were given several case studies by Universal, which we read, seriously, and there are quite a few case studies documenting middle age virginity and who these people are and where they live and what are likes and dislikes; and what we found to be the case more often than not is that they are just normal people, who for one reason or another, never did it. Very similar to the character, but at some point just gave up on the whole notion because it was harder, and every time I say something, all of these puns start floating into the room, but it was more difficult to keep attempting than to just give up and that's kind of the research that we did based on the character. In terms of meeting any, not that I know of. That's a hard thing. It's not something that you wear on your sleeve. Who knows how many virgins we met in our life, sounds like they're aliens. (Laughs)

Paul: The government says that they are. They've been trying to hide it, but they do exist.

Steve: I don't know. It wasn't based on this, "I know this virgin guy who lives down the street who rides a bike. I'm going to do a movie on him. I hope he doesn't come, because he'll sue us." It wasn't anything like that, but we did do some research. What we found just reinforce what we originally imagined. This is just a guy. This isn't some incredibly damaged human being. This is just a guy for a number of reasons kinda missed the boat.

Any advice to 40 year olds?

Steve: Apart from see the movie, I'm certainly in no position to actually give sexual advice to anyone. If anything, I'm in need of it.

I'm more curious to why would Universal have case studies of 40 year old virgins.

Steve: Me too.

Paul: I had no idea that they actually did that.

Steve: That was just internal. That was just based on employees of Universal.

Can you talk about the script developments and improve?

Steve: There was a lot going on. That whole runt that Paul does on "You know how I know you are gay", that's a perfect example.. (looks at Paul).. You want to talk about that.

Paul: We were sitting there waiting for them to set up and Seth and I were joking around and started calling each gay and why we knewŠThe crew was really getting upset with us cause they were like, "I can't believe that they are doing this while we are shooting", but Judd really encourages that, but at the same time, there was a script. As far as what's improvised and what isn't, I don't even really remember, but the way we would shoot it; it's not unlike the way we did ŒAnchorman" a little bit where we tend to go through the scene one time. Just kinda shoot it one time as scripted, then it was "Do something different" and so you never really know if you are keeping to the context of the way it's written, and changing it up, and Judd would just never cut. We shot a million feet of film. I didn't know if you shoot a million feet of film, the film company will buy Champaign for the cast and they do, on the very last day.

Steve: On the last day of shooting, we went over a million feet, they stopped and I don't know if it was Kodak, but the film company wheeled an enormous tray of Champaign bottles and good Champaign, not crap. Well, Jane Lynch, the woman who plays Paula the Manager, her audition was improvised and Judd, as soon as her audition was over, he sent her a tape of the audition to be transcribed and that is what ended up being in the script because she was so funny and the whole runt of her coming on to me, we had an idea for it, but she took it to such a different place, it's nothing that either of us could have scripted for her that eloquently.

Paul: That happened with all of our characters, Steve and Judd; when I first got the script, the roles had not been cast so they wanted to cast it and we did rehearsals and sometimes whatever came out of the rehearsals found its way onto the script, including like major stuff, like character arc. There's really like a lot of collaboration in a lot of ways, which is great.

Can you talk about the wax scene? Was that your real hair?

Steve: That was 100% real. We set up five cameras cause we knew there would be one take. There was no way of going back and trying to get it again. So we up cameras on the guys, one over me, one specifically on my chest, one of the waxer, and it wasn't scripted. We just had an idea of where it would go. We hired a woman who was an actress/ waxer, because she wasn't a professional waxer, so that was all real. If you watch closely, there's one close-up where you can see blood actually beating to the surface so that was not CGI. When I pitched it to Judd, I said that it should be for real. It really should be legitimate waxing because I thought to them laughing in pain would be probably the funniest part of the scene because there's this guy thing where it like this sadistic nature that men have to see other men in non-life threatening pain, and especially self-inflicted like the whole ball to the nuts, like a kick in the nuts. It's just funny, you can't help but laugh

You're working with Charles Rovan on Get Smart, and recently a website talked about you possibly playing the Joker in the Batman sequel. Is there truth to that? If not, would you want to?

Steve: I just heard that for the first time this morning, and yeah I would love to do that. But I doubt that it's true. He's never said anything about it, so it's completely fabricated. But I love it. I love the rumor, it's cool.

Can you talk about what it was like doing the movie knowing it was R rated and there's not the slightest thing you can do to make it PG-13?

Steve: Universal insisted just based on the subject matter we felt it was an R rated movie. Universal never blinked at that and in fact asked us to go to earn it. To actually be a hard R, to not pull any punches and to actually make an R rated movie, not try to soften it. But the objective wasn't to make, "Ooh, let's make this more of an R." We just wrote what we thought was the funniestŠ we wrote for characters, we wrote for the situations, and we didn't really think that we had to make this dirtier or less dirty. We just wrote it the way we saw it. It was nice in that sense, we never felt like we had to censor ourselves.

This is the first time you've carried a movie. How much pressure is there now that you're the star?

Steve: There was no pressure until you asked that. All the way through shooting it, I kept thinking, "if this is the last movie I ever do, this has been great, just fun," SO I try not to get ahead of myself at all in terms of what the next thing is. I hope I keep working. I've been really lucky just to be able to support myself acting. And just being able to help create and be the lead in a movie is way beyond any expectation I ever had so I'm pretty happy with what has happened so far. SO if this is it, if it all comes crashing down tomorrow, I'm still pretty happy.

So do you have anything else you're working on now?

Steve: No, not at all. (laughs) I just finished the first episode of The Office for NBC. It's coming back September 20th. So that's the next thing that I'm doing.

THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN opens on August 19th, 2005


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