Steve Carell Interview: Welcome to Marwen

Steve Carell is best known for playing Michael Scott on the popular sitcom The Office. And while he started out in comedy, he has gone on to become an award-winning dramatic actor as well.  His latest role is Mark Hogancamp in Welcome to Marwen, directed by Robert Zemeckis. In it, Mark is an artist trying to rebuild his life after a major trauma.

Screen Rant: Mr. Carell, great job, amazing performance. I’ve got to know, when you get pitched an idea like this, because it's very innovative with what Mr. Zemeckis did with this. What drew you to Mark Hogancamp’s story?

Steve Carell: I pitched myself to this story. I saw the documentary, have you seen the documentary? I loved it. And it got inside of my head. And I couldn't stop thinking about it.  And I found out that he had the rights to it, and I wanted to know what his vision was. Because it was hard for me to imagine what you could do to make that documentary into a feature. It's so beautiful and it depicts this guy is such a lovely way. And then when I met with Bob Zemeckis, he said what he'd like to do, is take that fantasy world, the doll side, and expand that and bring it, literally bring it, to life. And I thought that was a really cool way in. To be able to see-- Because Mark takes these photographs, very artistic, beautiful photographs of these scenarios. But what Robert Zemeckis wanted to do is connect all of those photographs together and really bring to life that story, that richness.

Screen Rant: You have experience in playing real life people before. Donald Rumsfeld, John du Pont, and now Mark Hogancamp. And there's somewhat of a responsibility that goes into playing real life characters. Can you talk to me about some of the research that you do when you're doing that kind of role, of real-life person?

Steve Carell: It's different. With a public persona like Rumsfeld, a lot of it, I didn't get a chance to meet him in person. So, a lot of that is just footage and reading books and trying to get a background of who he might be. Somebody like Mark Hogancamp, it's different because I got to meet him. I got to spend time with him. I correspond with him. And I've become friends with him. And so, there's even an added responsibility on top of the responsibility, when you feel like, “Well, now I'm depicting a friend of mine. And I want to try to do his story justice.”

Screen Rant: I feel that everybody has this-- wants to be a superhero in them.

Steve Carell: [Chuckles] Yeah.

Screen Rant: And Captain Hogie is Mark’s. So, can you talk to me about how you view Captain Hogie opposed to Mark?

Steve Carell: Well, Captain Hogie is the idealized personification of Mark. So, he's connected to Mark. He is Mark. But he's this version of Mark that lives within Mark's brain. And all of those characters in that doll world, live within Mark's brain and within his imagination. So, if you can imagine who you would be in your most heroic self, that's, I think, what Captain Hogie is bringing to life.

Screen Rant: That's amazing. One thing that kind of sticks out, and it really sticks out, is how innovative the I don't know if it's CG or the motion…

Steve Carell: Yeah, the motion capture stuff.

Screen Rant: The motion capture stuff. Can you talk to me about that experience? Because it's very different.

Steve Carell: Crazy. It was like I'd never done anything like it before. And Bob Zemeckis, again, I always get hitched when I'm like saying to his-- Is it Mr. Zemeckis? Is it Bob? It's like calling Steven Spielberg, Steve. Like, what do you call him?

Screen Rant: I call you Mr. Carell, it’s—

Steve Carell: No. Call me Steve. That's ridiculous. I'm not Mr. Carell. Anyway. So, he described it as doing like really, really… like low budget black box theater. There are no props, or no sets. You're just in this space surrounded by sensors that are picking up your every movement. And you just imagine everything. So, it was helpful that he has such a vivid imagination himself and was able to paint the picture around you. And Bob would come in and say, “Over here, this is the town. And that X is this building and here is the--,” But really, really explained them in vivid detail. So, that was helpful. But it was an exercise in imagination really.

Screen Rant: Well, you did a great job. Thank you so much.

More: Read Screen Rant's Welcome to Marwen Review

Key Release Dates
  • Welcome to Marwen (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
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