Steve Carell (Analysis)

Long-time moviegoers and professionals alike would agree that, if a director wanted to enact a medieval feast, Steve Carell would be a strong candidate to play the “jester”. Still, one cannot help but be a little surprised, at first, by the massive gap existing between his screen persona and his casual composure, not only from a moral standpoint, but also in sheer presence and mannerism. This, of course, can be credited to the art of acting, but a contribution from vultology could help distinguish the complementary role of typological development in the rise of this duality.

Most of the television interviews available online are depicting a man who is strikingly quiet, almost self-effacing. Indeed, from a technical perspective, his energy curve can be described as recessive. Yet, even though his general posture could appear a bit uptight, it does not exactly stand still. When asked a complex question, it oftentimes animates through a discreet swaying, and holds a relic of momentum through inertia and viscosity.

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Figure 1 : Steve Carell’s body and head sway heavily from a side to the other

Likewise, his face is displaying in most occasions a notable scowl, with slanting outer edges, weighing on a steady, near-focused gaze, which sometimes softly toggles. Despite the eyelid being punctually lowered, the expression stays dull, in a way which may evoke confusion. The correlation of these signals strongly suggests reactive/introverted concrete perception, abbreviated Si, as a leading process.

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Figure 2 : Steve Carell’s concentrated scowl

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Figure 3 : Steve Carell’s eyes softly (and discreetly) toggle

With perception as the primary oscillation of the individual, the secondary pair of functions may appear less marked and thus not immediately clear, especially when the use is not regular. In these cases, the most telling clue might be spotted through the smile, which presently contracts in the center of the face, from the upper lips to the sides of the nose, without radiating an excess of emotion.

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Figure 4 : Steve Carell’s upward “snarl”

From there, one might more confidently state that Steve Carell’s voice exhibits a mostly dispassionate and monotone quality, and is accompanied by a swift, minimalistic gesticulation. On the other hand, one can discern a persistant tension resurging on the sides of the nose, and a hint of static warmth imbued in the tone, more so when acknowledging the moral compass of his characters. These observations in turn plead for the interplay of proactive/extraverted logical judgement (Te) and reactive/introverted ethical judgement (Fi).

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Figure 5 : Steve Carell’s brief gestures

Thus, Steve Carell’s overall cognitive type can be referred to as SiTe/Medain. Accordingly, his conversation style often revolves around a factual recollection of events, more or less fluently reported. For example, in a 2015 interview about The Big Short, he gave the following pitch :

Steve Carell : “There is actually three separated groups, three separated teams, that are looking to short the housing market, and he inadvertently gets this information, based on, and this is true, based on a wrong number. Someone was calling a frontpoint, which was… there’s another frontpoint on, like, floor 8, and it was floor 11, and so they thought they were reaching out to a different frontpoint partner, so Baum gets this call, and decide to follow up on it, on a lark […]”

Like it was previously prospected, it may be compelling to extend one’s functional assessment to some of Steve Carell’s most emblematic performances, so as to progressively unveil the breadth of his personal expression. One can start by bringing its attention to the most infamous character of Michael Scott in the american version of TV series and mockumentary The Office, which adequately mirrors the format of the previous observations.

In fact, the superposition of interview sequences and collective sequences might expose a gradual exaggeration, to the point of caricature, of the typical dynamics of the actor. Whereas the monologue still manifest a low energy, sometimes by whispering, one can already notice an emphasis on the proactive processes, which appears most notably through a more constant widening of the eyes and an unbroken flow. Then, it is in the characters exchanges that the polar function of the SiTe/Medain, proactive/extraverted abstract perception (Ne), really expands, through the boisterous act of parody.

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Figure 6 : Steve Carell’s proactive persona and parody

Eventually, a great portion of the show’s comedy may rely on the playful but off-beat, if not properly inappropriate, association of trivia and logistics, as the following quotes would testify :

Steve Carell as Michael Scott : “Yes, I was the first one out, and yes, I heard “Women and children first”, but, we do not employ children, we are not a sweat shop thankfully, and women are equal in the workplace, by law, so, I let them out first, I have a lawsuit on my hands”

Steve Carell as Michael Scott : “Guess what, I have flaws. What are they ? Oh I don’t know, I sing in the shower, sometimes I spend to much time volunteering, occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car, so sue me. No, don’t sue me, that’s the opposite of the point I am trying to make”

In the end, playing against one’s innate energy limitation might prove a lot of work, but for someone with a private emotional life, it may also be a way to connect with an audience, as justified by seven years of good ratings.

Sources :
The Big Short Interview – Steve Carell (2015) – Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt Movie HD
Steve Carell interview about The Office
Steve Carell Plays Eccentric Wrestling Coach in ‘Foxcatcher’
The Office – Classic Michael Scott
The Office US – 100 Best Moments Seasons 1-5

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