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SYFY WIRE The Office

‘Minions’ star Steve Carell reveals ‘The Office’ habit he still can’t break all these years later

It's a good thing Gru is animated, or he might have spent a lot of time looking into the camera.

By Gina Salamone
Steve Carrell in The Office

It's a good thing Gru is animated. Had the reformed villain of the Despicable Me and Minions movies not been, he might have spent a lot of time looking into the camera. That's because he's voiced by Steve Carell, who routinely, along with his co-stars from The Office, shot looks into the camera while filming the beloved mockumentary sitcom.

It became such a habit for them, that some of the stars are still tempted to break the fourth wall even though the NBC show ended in 2013. "I have never had a job where I didn't look into the camera at some point," Carell, who starred as paper company regional manager Michael Scott on the sitcom, admitted recently on an episode of the Office Ladies podcast. The podcast is hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who played Pam Beesly and Angela Martin, respectively, on The Office.

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"Same!" Fischer responded to Carell's confession. "I can't not make the camera a character now. It's such a habit." Kinsey also admitted to goofing up thanks to her time on The Office. "I actually had a director say, 'Uh, Angela, you just looked right down the barrel,'" she chimed in. 

Carell remembers doing it on the set of the 2014 biographical sports film, Foxcatcher. "I'm sure on Foxcatcher, I like looked into the camera and [then said to myself], 'Nope. You cannot comment on what you just did.'"

Carell also addressed on the podcast the fact that he barely watched any of the BBC series of the same name that the American one was based on. The British version starred Ricky Gervais as David Brent, the character that Carell's was loosely modeled on. "I chose not to watch the British version because I just didn't want that to influence whatever this version was going to be because he was clearly so great at it," Carell said of Gervais. "It was such a distinctive character. I didn't want to do an impression of him."

He added, "I watched like a minute just to get a sense of the tone of the show, sort of how dark, and very dry, very dour, kind of bleak, which I loved. I loved how still it was at times. But his character was so specific, I thought, 'No, I can't, because that's what I'll want to do. I won't see it any other way.'"

You can catch Steve Carell and others looking into the camera in The Office, with all nine seasons (and extended cut episodes) streaming on Peacock. To hear him voicing Gru, check him out in films like Despicable Me, also streaming on Peacock.