Funnymen reignite magic
It’s no illusion – Steve Carell and Jim Carrey team up for a magical comedy, writes
EFORE Anchorman, The Office and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell got his big break stealing scenes opposite Jim Carrey in the hit comedy Bruce Almighty.
It was a role that helped launch his career, but Carell didn’t even think it would end up in the movie.
‘‘I figured my part was probably left on the cutting room floor,’’ he says, even telling his wife as much before the premiere.
‘‘But I was very pleasantly surprised when my stuff hadn’t been cut and it turned into a big break for me, so I owe him (Carrey) a lot.’’
Fast forward 10 years and Carrey and Carell are back sharing the screen again, facing off as opposing magicians in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Carell, who also coproduced the film, said Carrey was his first choice to play grungy magician Steve Gray, whose extreme stunts and rising popularity quickly send the fame and fortune of Las Vegas duo Burt (Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) in to the ground.
‘‘It was a long shot. But we got lucky. He thought it was a hysterical character and jumped in,’’ Carell says of the approach to Carrey.
The actors spent a few months before shooting working with what Carell called magical trainers and also saw a bunch of magic shows during the first few weeks of the shoot in Las Vegas.
Burt comments in the movie that Gray cannot be a magician, not just because his illusions include holding his urine for days on end, but because he doesn’t even have a costume. He, on the other hand, perhaps overcompensates.
As Burt, Carell plays against type, taking on a character who’s egotistical, extravagant and a fan of bejewelled clothing, himself, make-up, mullet hairdos and tonnes of bronzer.
Carell said when in doubt, the key to Burt’s look was become more tanned.
‘‘I always had to slather on more fake tan,’’ he says. Not that anyone in Las Vegas noticed. ‘‘It’s funny, we wanted all these Above (from left): Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey in
Below: Olivia Wilde. characters to be a sort of a heightened reality but then we got to Las Vegas and we were all in these outfits and we didn’t stand out in any way,’’ he says.
The superficial elements like costuming and make-up were fun for Carell, but on the technical side of magic, the movie was also in good hands.
Magician David Copperfield acted as a consultant on set, designing one of the big illusions Carell and Buscemi performed.
Carell says after rehearsing, they shot the trick called The Hangman uncut and without special effects, ‘‘which was neat – we felt like we were actually doing a legitimate illusion’’.
Although Carell now knows how to pull coins from behind someone’s ear and various other magic skills, he’s not about to use them to try to impress his two children.
‘‘I’m not the weird dad doing the magic tricks for kids,’’ he says.
During his and Carrey’s scenes – which include an intense magic face-off, with each trying to outdo each other – Carell says there is a lot of improvisation going on.
‘‘With somebody like Jim Carrey you just let him go,’’ he says.
‘‘You let him explore and find whatever he’s going to find.’’