| 15°C Dublin

The super villain who became a super dad... and doesn't mind his Minions being the stars

A meeting with actor Steve Carell wouldn't be complete without a laugh or two, and sure enough within the first minute he's got me in stitches.

The 50-year-old may be the star of Despicable Me 2, but he's definitely not the main one. Instead, it's the cute, googly-eyed, indecipherable and mad little Minions that steal the spotlight in the highly anticipated sequel to the 2010 animation.

"What are you saying?" Carell says, putting on a stern face. "You come in and you throw that in my face. It's the Minions this and the Minions that." Smiling, he adds: "There's no competing. I saw the first movie with my kids, and what did they love the most? Not Dad, or what Dad had done, it was the Minions.

"I honestly can't deny that they are, by far, the star of this movie. They're funny, ridiculous, and physical and violent in a fun, benign way, but also incredibly loveable."

The Minions – voiced by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud – are set to steal even more of the limelight, he reveals.

"A year from now, they're getting their own film. They're already making it," says Carell.

In Despicable Me 2, produced again by Chris Meledandri, former super-villain Gru is attempting to turn over a new leaf and turn his back on crime, focusing on being a devoted dad to the three orphan girls – Margo (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).


"I'm a parent with two little kids, and I identified with the story in the first film because it was honest in its depiction. Having kids completely changes a person's life, in all the best ways," he explains.

"Here's a guy who, in the first movie, was evil, and a genius at all things nefarious, then these three little girls come into his life and it changes him. It taps into something he never knew existed.

"This one's an extension of that – he's a great dad but he has all sorts of complications to deal with." Those complications include his eldest child Margo becoming aware of boys.

Carell goes on: "Then, there's his career. He's making jams and jellies, which taste terrible, and that's not a career choice for an evil mastermind.

"And his kids want him to date, which is a huge, huge problem, because he's not good with women and it's completely out of his comfort zone."

Carell admits his two children with actress wife Nancy – Annie (12) and Johnny (9) – encouraged him to take the role, but they weren't the sole reason.


"It's definitely something that they enjoy," he says. "But more than that, it's a fun character and a very sweet story. [The movies] are smart, funny and heartfelt without being overly sentimental. They hug the heart strings just enough."

Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig joins Carell on the animated adventure as secret agent Lucy, alongside Russell Brand as Gru's mad scientist sidekick Dr Nefario, Benjamin Bratt (charismatic restaurant owner Eduardo) and Ken Jeong (outlandish wig-maker Floyd).

"I've been a fan of Kristen for years," says Carell. "I think she's brilliant.

"She's always the best in everything she does. But we never actually worked together."

The Massachusetts-born actor does get to act with Wiig in person on the upcoming Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, where he reprises his role as chief meteorologist Brick Tamland. Carell clearly enjoyed reuniting with his co-stars in the sequel.

"It was really fun. We spent two months laughing together," he says.

Carell is best known for his comedic turns in movies such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Get Smart and Bruce Almighty, but he has branched out with more dramatic roles in Little Miss Sunshine, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World and Hope Springs.


"I didn't set out to be a comedic actor, just someone who acts. That happened by default," he says. His upcoming roles see him heading into dramatic territory with a serious part in The Way, Way Back and, in his darkest role to date, Carell will play a killer in Foxcatcher.

The film is based on the true story of John du Pont, who killed an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler (played by Mark Ruffalo). "It's a very dark, tragic story. It's intriguing – and Bennett Miller is the director so I jumped at the chance to work with him. He's a really fantastic film-maker."

But for now at least, Carell is concentrating on Gru, who, he teases, could go back to being bad if there was a third film.

"He's never far from being a bad guy. He's a dad in this one, but he still has his despicable overtones," he says.