Steve Carell is the first to admit that his new film, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” is weird.
“In fact,” he says, “that’s partly what appealed to me.”
What’s weird about the film, aside from the title, is that it walks a fine line between comedy and the apocalypse – it’s funny, and the human race is about to be erased by an asteroid. And, no, Carell doesn’t play a bumbling scientist who averts this catastrophe. He’s an insurance salesman who learns to embrace it (and Keira Knightley).
“It’s just a giant metaphor for life,” Carell says by phone from Los Angeles, where he’s just wrapped a film with Jim Carrey called “Burt Wonderstone.” “How do you choose to live what you have left? How do you choose to connect with people or not connect with people?”
Part of the comedy is that some choose to spend their final days indulging in all sorts of bad behavior: shooting up heroin, giving their kids booze, sleeping with friends’ spouses, setting cars on fire.
Carell’s character, who is aptly named Dodge, isn’t interested in any of that. Instead, he’s in the grip of inertia, consumed by rage and regret, which Carell plays with a minimalism that’s not deadpan as much as it is dead. It was a worry to him as an actor that he was so subtle he wasn’t registering.
“Sometimes I thought what I was doing was small, and when I looked at the monitor, it looked as if nothing was going on at all,” he says.
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