Steve Carrell is probably best known for his character in classic sitcom The Office, the beloved and cringe-worthy Michael Scott, sometimes Michael Clump, sometimes paper company owner, and sometimes star of Threat Level Midnight. Chances are if you loved him in this role, you've also seen Steve Carrell in the iconic film, Anchorman and loved him there too. He's in Get Smart playing a lovably flawed character too. All of these characters share in common one key thing: the particular weirdness of a character whose primary purpose is just to be goofy.
The past few years represent a change for the beloved comedy actor though, as he moves into more serious movies like Beautiful Boy. He's telling important stories, and he's acting in really important roles, primarily dealing with mental illness, but also just dealing with major historical films.
Carrell has said that the change really wasn't intentional, he just takes the best roles presented to him. The variety in the roles he has taken on is really striking, as Carrell is able to transition pretty seamlessly between roles, and has won awards playing a variety of different characters. Steve Carrell has shown his true talent through these new roles. We can't help but think, though... will he ever go back to playing the goofy characters with which we first fell in love, or has he gone serious forever? Carrell said that he just takes the best roles and that he would love to do comedy in the future. He was on SNL recently too, which seems like a pretty good sign for all those missing the goofy Carrell we first knew.
However, it is important to see such a well-known actor grappling with such serious themes. Welcome to Marwen, not yet released, deals with gender stereotypes and PTSD, both important and difficult themes. With someone like Carrell at the helm of a film like this, the film is suddenly opened to a wider audience, which could be really beneficial to people who might not otherwise get the messages presented by films like this. The same is true of Beautiful Boy, Foxcatcher, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Battle of the Sexes. Steve Carrell is a good actor to have playing more serious characters in films with important themes because his very presence in the film makes it more likely that some of the people who do not often view more serious films will view these films.
So yeah, it's weird that Steve Carrell is a serious actor now. It doesn't always seem like it makes sense. But he does a really good job with these serious roles and he makes the movies more accessible to people outside the target audience, which is really important for the messages of more serious films. I guess the way we're handling it is just... being okay with it? Doesn't stop us from missing Threat Level Midnight and Michael Scarn though.