From the very first “That’s what she said,” Steve Carell won an army of fans. As Michael Scott on the American version of The Office, he maneuvered expertly between offensive buffoonery and a tender child-like need for acceptance. And he was only getting started.
With a sweetheart reputation that could rival Tom Hanks’, Steve is quickly climbing the ranks as the most well-liked actor in Hollywood. But before breaking out in The Office and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he was easily just another face in the crowd. Tough choices made him the icon he is today.
As an undergrad studying history, young Steve Carell planned to go to law school until he caught the performing bug as a member of the Denison University improv team, Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company. This group is the oldest in the country.
And, when he was filling out his law school application, Steve had a change of heart. “I got to the essay question, which was, ‘Why do you want to be an attorney?’ And I couldn’t answer it. I really didn’t know.” Instead, Steve told his parents he would pursue acting.
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After graduating in 1984, Steve made his way to Chicago, where, like so many other comedic powerhouses, he honed his skill at the improvisational comedy theater The Second City. There, he met and befriended fellow future stars like Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris.
Chicago Tribune / Second City
But out of everyone Steve befriended because of improv, his favorite is his wife, Nancy Walls. He was her teacher and dragged out their flirtation, saying, “Well, you know, if I were to ever ask someone out, it would be someone like you.”
Twitter / Second City
Meanwhile, Steve was building his career. Stories asserted he was passed over for a role on SNL. Even Lorne Michael’s own comments backed up the claim. But Steve said he never even auditioned. He did, however, lend his voice to one half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo with fellow funnyman Stephen Colbert.
Entertainment Weekly / NBC
Soon, he was landing more prominent roles. Steve, Colbert, and Nancy were both correspondents on The Daily Show back in 1999. He used his trademark deadpan delivery to crack wise with political figures, including the late senator John McCain.
Vanity Fair / Al Levine / Comedy Central
With comedy roots similar to Steve’s, Nancy is an actor and comedian all her own. She’s a former SNL cast member and has collaborated with Steve on many projects, including The Office where she played his real estate agent and girlfriend Carol.
Collider / NBC Universal Television Distribution
Acting together became a staple in their relationship. In fact, on the couple’s 17th wedding anniversary, they filmed an icy breakup scene for the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. After the camera cut, the director surprised them with a cake!
IMDB / Focus Features
When he scored the lead as Michael Scott on The Office, many of his friends thought that recreating the British sitcom was a big mistake. Steve, though, didn’t watch much of the original. He wanted to avoid parroting Ricky Gervais’ character.
The very same year as his Office debut, Steve collaborated with Judd Apatow to co-write the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a premise that started as a character bit Steve did for friends in his Second City days. The huge success of this film put the national spotlight on Steve and The Office.
GQ / Apatow Pictures
Audiences grew to love Steve as Michael Scott, as he brought so much authenticity to the character. He himself has a dash of that characteristic Michael Scott irresponsibility. After working briefly as a mailman, he found a bunch of undelivered mail under the seat of his car months later. Whoops!
Steve put a lot of himself into the beloved character. If you saw Michael Scott glide across the ice, you know that Steve Carell is a skilled skater. He’s a talented hockey player, though he did claim the worst thing he’s ever experienced was taking a puck between the eyes at age 12.
And, just by looking at him, you can tell Steve has the heart of a band geek. His instruments of choice? The fife and the baritone horn. No way would Steve go for something mainstream like the violin!
Because he was such a beloved comic actor, people freaked out when Steve Carell picked up the dramatic actor baton; however, that was always his plan. While he was a skilled improviser and comedian, he studied theater and considers himself an actor first and foremost.
Washington Post / Ed Araquel/Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures
He’d done a few serious roles, but it was his Oscar-nominated performance as the eccentric murderer, John Dupont, in Foxcatcher that marks Steve’s career transition. The film’s director said that strange dichotomy was the reason he was cast in the first place!
Tribute CA / Marriska Fernandes
Off stage, Steve is genuine. Rather than invest in liquor lines or creating a goofy app, the Carell’s decided to make a business decision that would benefit his local community. So if you find yourself in coastal Massachusetts, you might see Steve behind the counter at Marshfield Hills General Store.
Marshfield Hills General Store
And recently, Steve let his gray hair take over and the public reaction was thirsty. Memes and tweets erupted over what a silver fox he’d become. The actor responded to his hottie status by joking that he was sick of being objectified!
Getty Images / Robin Marchant / Contributor
Yet, Carell wasn’t always his family name. His father changed the original spelling of their more Italian sounding name, “Caroselli,” to Carell prior to the birth of his son. But Steve thinks the original name has a less confusing spelling.
During the lead up to The Office finale, everyone desperately hoped Michael Scott would make an appearance. For months, Steve fibbed to reporters that he wouldn’t return to the show when his presence was actually always part of the plan.
Saying goodbye to The Office was incredibly emotional for its breakout star, but little did he know, in a few years, his favorite paper salesman coworker, John Krasinski, would also rise to leading man status.
NBC Universal Inc
John is known for his tall stature, a characteristic that may not earn him roles but always entertains his friends: The actor has a knack for moving around like a puppet on a string, and it’s as impressive (and weird) as it sounds.
Behind the scenes, at least, A Quiet Place was basically a one-man show. Not only did John co-write, star in, direct, and executive produce the horror flick, but he used motion-capture technology to play the movie’s terrifying monster.
The first few shots of The Office theme song, which takes the viewer through the gray sights of Scranton, has definitely reached icon status — and it’s all thanks to John Krasinski, who filmed that Scranton footage himself.
John certainly has friends in high places, and we’re not just talking about his A-list wife, Emily Blunt. The duo wed in 2010 at a Lake Como estate owned by Hollywood’s most debonair star, George Clooney, whom Krasinski befriended while acting in Leatherheads.
Like most young actors, John paid his dues by making pennies as an intern. Still, he was probably able to rub noses with some of the brightest faces in Hollywood when he was an intern at Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
It seems Pam Beesley wasn’t the first red-head to steal “Jim’s” heart! John has admitted to falling hard for ’80s icon Molly Ringwald back in the day, and we can’t say we blame him.
Trashy TV is everyone’s guilty pleasure, even Oscar nominees! The actor and filmmaker, who garnered acclaim for the horror film A Quiet Place, admitted that one of his favorite pastimes is curling up with a couple episodes of The Bachelor.
Jim and Ryan may not have been best friends on The Office, but the real-life actors go way back — like, all the way to high school in Massachusetts. The old friends just happened to make it big on the same show!
When John wants to do something, he’s going to do it right. He proved this when he took his acting ambitions to the next level at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the prestigious acting school in Stratford-upon-Avon in the U.K.
If his impressive past proves anything, it’s that John is a man of many ambitions: While living in Costa Rica for a few months before heading off to Brown University, he earned some extra cash by teaching high school kids English.
Most first dates are pretty typical: The couple sees a movie, or gets dinner in a fancy restaurant. John took a more unusual route, however, when he took his now-wife Emily Blunt to a gun range. Sounds…fun?
If you’ve never seen John act in anything before, chances are you’ve heard his voice. In addition to lending his voice to Monsters University and Bojack Horseman, he was the narrator for Esurance commercials for years.
Have we mentioned how Krasinski is multi-talented? In addition to being an actor, filmmaker, and writer, he’s also an enthusiastic athlete, and even coached basketball in his spare time while at Brown.
Though he had many ambitions as a young kid, John was always drawn to the stage. His first “role” was in a sixth grade production of Annie, where he played Daddy Warbucks.
Musical spin-off programs that originated on Late Night shows are now officially “a thing,” and you have John Krasinkski to thank. Alongside Stephen Merchant, he created Lip Sync Battle for Jimmy Fallon, which later spawned its own show.
He’s talented, he’s handsome, and he’s…a hero? Teenage-John was at the beach when news spread that a young girl was swept out to sea by a rip tide. Without thinking, he reportedly jumped into the waves and saved her life.
It seems like Krasinski can do no wrong, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, as a young Hollywood hopeful working multiple odd-jobs, John was fired nine times, once as a bartender when he inadvertently made a customer sick.
Fatherhood is such a central theme in A Quiet Place because Krasinski became a father for the second time while re-working the script. He was so inspired by his two little girls, he just had to incorporate them into the movie!
John seems to feel very little fear in many aspects of his life, and he found a life partner with the same penchant for danger! While on their honeymoon, he and Emily Blunt got up close and personal with a couple sharks.
He was a huge Emily Blunt fan before they even met, if his record-breaking (probably) 72-time viewing of her movie The Devil Wears Prada proves anything. There’s really nothing cuter than a partner who truly loves what the other does!
As a broke up-and-comer, John apparently called his mother and told her he was quitting. She convinced him to give it one more shot — and he booked The Office three weeks later. Thanks, Mrs. Krasinski!
John joined a star-studded cast, and every one of his cohorts seemed to put together incredible careers of their own. Steve Carell, who played the lovable Michael Scott, was a jock and theater geek. Still, he admits class clown was not on his radar during his days at Middlesex High.
2. Angela Kinsey: You may not recognize this smiling face because Kinsey’s character, also named Angela, seldom expressed anything besides annoyance as head of accounting. In reality, she self describes as Texan southern Belle — and has the charm to prove it!
Angela Kinsey / Instagram
3. Ed Helms: Unlike his character Andy Bernard, Helms didn’t attend Cornell University. Though he does share certain similarities to the Nard Dog, like a having a silly nickname. Kids in high school dubbed Ed “Chuck E. Cheese.”
4. Rainn Wilson: Don’t let his perfectly feathered hair fool you. In his school days, Rainn aligned along the Dwight Schrute side of the cool spectrum. He pushed those perfect waves out of his eyes to read the sheet music for bassoon solos in the band.
5. Melora Hardin: One look from Jan Levinson Gould could make a grown man cower, and her fearsome power comes from experience. Hardin has a credit list stretching back to the early ’70s, as she appeared in shows like Little House on the Praire.
Little House Wiki
6. Creed Bratton: By and far, Creed is the greatest enigma of the cast. Prior to acting, he was a founding member of the band The Grass Roots. When first hired, Creed was a background actor, but he won the showrunners over with his wild ideas, and they wrote a version of him into the show.
7. Leslie David Baker: Hardcore Office fans will recognize “Stanley the Manly,” since they used Baker’s actual yearbook photo on the show. Fun fact about Leslie: while in graduate school, he earned cash as a worker in an OfficeMax commercial.
8. Ellie Kemper: Growing up in Missouri, Kemper played acting games and earned grades from a formidable drama teacher, Jon Hamm. Yup, he taught at and attended the same high school as Ellie, who mused, “Everyone was ga-ga over him.”
9. Phyllis Smith: Michael hinted that Phyllis Lapin Vance had a colorful high school past. If he only knew how incredible real-life Phyllis’ past is! Her entertaining career began as a cheerleader for the St. Louis Cardinals, followed by 7 years on the burlesque stage.
10. Craig Robinson: He got his start on The Office and went on the be a comedy blockbuster staple. In fact, many stars, like John Krasinski, used the iconic show as a launchpad for their careers.
11. BJ Novak: Ryan Howard was briefly the youngest VP in Dunder Mifflin history. Novak could be labeled a “wunderkind” in his own right. Eventually becoming an Executive Producer, BJ graduated from Harvard after directing plays in high school with classmate John Krasinski.
12. Jenna Fischer: Similar to Pam Beesly Halpert, she came from humble beginnings. Before packing her car and moving to LA, 15-year-old Fischer worked the counter at Long John Silvers.
13. Brian Baumgartner: Who else is curious if he made Kevin’s famous chili recipe for this high school party? Doubtful, as young Brian looked too cool. Not in attendance was his scene partner Ed Helms, who was a year behind him in school.
14. Kate Flannery: If there was a Dundie for “Most Likely To See Double,” it would go to Supplier Relations rep and resident party girl Meredith Palmer. Your eyes don’t deceive you, though: there are two child Merediths pictured. Flannery has an identical twin.
Kate Flannery / Instagram
15. Andy Buckley: This young graduate went off to Stanford University and became a successful stockbroker. In the end, Wall Street didn’t suit Buckley. He preferred playing a pretend CFO as company head David Wallace.
16. Mindy Kaling: Much like a diamond, years of pressure from close-minded classmates turned her into a comedy-obsessed jewel. “Everyone acted like it was inappropriate for a girl to be funny,” she said. “As if I was there to be an audience for the guys…It was so unfair!”
17. Zach Woods: Poor Gabe Lewis was the most misunderstood employee, something Woods related to. “When I weirdly went to jazz camp, I got bullied…AT JAZZ CAMP,” he said. “I got picked on by a tiny violinist.”
18. Rashida Jones: No guessing involved for this one: her appearance has barely changed since her high school days. Jones’ tenure on the show wasn’t that long, but Karen Filippelli made a big impact.