Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. As a happily married father of two, it must have been
a while since you've had to contemplaye the dating scene? But
did you draw from any personal experience?
A. It’s ancient history. Quite a bit of my experience
helped with Andy’s dating experience. The whole scene in
which I ask the questions in the bookstore, that was directly
lifted from advice that my father gave me. On one of my first
dates ever I was petrified of talking to this girl, and he suggested
that I just ask questions and put all of the impetus on her to
talk. It turned out to be great advice.
It kind of relieves the tension, so I incorporated it into the
In terms of the movie, that was probably the one decent piece
of advice you could use. Certainly not played out the way it is
in the movie. But to just ask questions, if you’re on a
date I think it works for both men and women – to just ask
questions and to find interest in the other person. It kind of
relieves the tension in that way.
Q. Can you talk about the waxing scene? Apparently you
suffered for your art for real?
A. That was 100% real. I completely subjected myself
to an actual waxing on camera. It was done in one take, we set
up five cameras, and clearly we only had one shot at it because
my hair doesn’t grow that quickly. We just figured it would
be a funnier to go, ultimately. And more excruciating overall.
Q. How did your colleagues’ react - they seem to
be laughing pretty hard?
A. The guys had very little sympathy, but the women in
the crew were the ones who had the sympathy because they knew
what I was getting into.
They were telling me to trim down my hair a little bit so it would
be easier to pull. They told me to take some Advil. They had topical
solutions to numb the pain, and I would have none of it.
I said I was fine, I was very macho. And it hurt so much more
than I’d anticipated. I now have this new found respect
for women all over the globe in terms of bikini waxing.
When it starts to grow back it gets even uglier and messier. It’s
horrendous. And going home and showing my wife my chest that evening
was no small task either. She was horrified by the look, which
lasted for a couple of months.
Q. Was the pain the main reason why the whole chest was
A. We thought in terms of the whole movie that it might
be funnier if the next time you see him he takes off his shirt
and it’s just patches.
Then we could get some comedic mileage out of that, once the next
woman sees this thing, and how she reacts, which really isn’t
the way you’d expect her to react. She’s very turned
on by the whole idea.
Q. Did you get some strange reactions from people away
the from film, if they saw your chest?
A. I got a strange reaction from my wife. And my daughter
asked me why my chest was smiling at her. It was definitely something
to live with. My wife made me wear a T-shirt around the house
for the next couple of months, she couldn’t bear to look
at it any more.
Q. Was it tough to continue responding while showing
the pain and staying in character? You did it ad-lib, didn't you?
A. That was completely unscripted because we did not
know how I would react, how much pain would be involved, and really
didn’t know what I was going to say.
The only idea we had was that I would curse, yell an obscenity
and then apologise for it because my character is very polite.
But in terms of what exactly I would say, we had no idea.
The funniest part to me was keeping the camera on the other people
in the scene, because they’re obviously laughing. Which
works in the context of the movie. There’s something about
a male seeing another male go through excruciating pain that is
just inherently funny. You can’t help but laugh at a friend
going through pain, if it’s not life threatening.
There’s something hilarious about it. And add to that the
fact that it’s self inflicted, I knew that they would be
laughing, and that would probably be the funniest part of the
Q. Without wanting to ask the obvious, do you remember
losing your own virginity?
A. Believe me, the US press asked the same question again
and again. It was funny, because prior to doing any interviews
I asked my wife about it, because I knew it would come up. She
said ‘just don’t tell them’. I thought that
was a novel idea, I should just go with that.
But my first experience was not unlike anyone else’s. It
was horrible, and awkward and disappointing for both of us. I
think 99% of the population can relate to that.
It was just what it was, and it was probably more getting it out
of the way than anything else. At least I felt, growing up, when
you’re a teenager, it’s a scene that seems to loom
over your head.
That was sort of the inspiration for the movie itself, at age
40 that cloud that might have been looming since the teenage years
has expanded into almost a life encompassing thing. I felt that
was a good starting off point for the character in a movie that
could be both funny and sort of raunchy, but sweet and heartfelt
at the same time. And actually tell a story about a human being
as opposed to a caricature.
Q. How was losing it on screen?
A. That was very unlike my first time, because it wasn’t
real for one thing. It’s always odd too! I’ d never
kissed a woman on screen before, so the fact that I wrote a movie
in which I kiss several women was interesting for me wife, asking
me what my hidden agenda was!
Catherine Keener is such a great actress, and we became very,
very good friends. It was just very nice and playful.
Q. And what made you break into song?
A. I figured how else could the movie end at that point.
Where else could it go? To me the movie ends with him losing his
virginity, and at that point the credits could just start rolling.
I figured while the credits rolled we should have the most perfect
expression of joy and happiness, which is breaking into song.
Q. Do you prefer light to dark comedy?
A. I don’t think I prefer one to the other, they’re
just different. It’s fun to do both. Something like Anchorman
is altogether different from this, or The Office, because that’s
complete silliness and doesn’t pretend to even have a heart.
It just is ridiculous. That’s a more silly vein.
Honestly, whatever will make people laugh is what I’m interested
Q. Do you have a fondness
for playing news reporters?
A. [Laughs] I tend to be hired to play them. It’s
not a calculated choice. Before I did The Daily Show, which is
a mock news show, I never had any notion of playing that kind
if character. A friend of mine was on that show already, I’d
worked with him in Second City in Chicago, and he recommended
me and sort of threw my name into the hat.
So I just started doing reports for them. But that show is nothing
you can ever train for because it’s sort of a hybrid. You’re
kind of a correspondent, you’re sort of an actor but not
really, and an improvisational background helps but it’s
not mandatory. There are a lot of elements that add up to this
And I think that kind of begat Bruce
Almighty which begat Anchorman.
I kind of went from one to the next. I almost didn’t get
Anchorman because of Bruce Almighty, they were worried that I
would be seen as the same guy.
But once it was clear that they were vastly different characters
there was no overlap at all.
But I don’t know, it’s like my choice to do comedy
wasn’t even my choice. I went in to theatre as an actor,
but comedies just seemed to be the things I was hired to do more
often than not.
Q. Was working with Woody Allen on Melinda
and Melinda a dream come true?
A. All of this stuff is beyond my wildest dreams. That
came as a complete shock and surprise, to be in a Woody Allen
movie. And even though I’m just a glimpse within a Woody
Allen movie it was still a very exciting experience.
Q. Do you think The 40-Year-Old Virgin might start a
trend for nouveau celibacy?
A. I’ve heard a lot of different terms coming up
now. Geek-chic is coming now. Do I think that is the next trend?
Nouveau celibacy, I don’t know, these are all very interesting
sounding terms. I don’t think the movie has any sort of
agenda or is trying to ride the crest of any oncoming social phenomenon.
I have no idea.
We certainly weren’t making any political statement about
virginity, or whether it’s good or bad to be one. It was
just a starting off point for this character and for the film.
But in terms of making any sort of statement about virginity,
we certainly weren’t trying to do that.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about your next
project, Little Miss Sunshine?
A. That’s a bit more of a dark comedy, and it’s
the one that stars Alan Arkin. Every day I couldn’t believe
that he was sitting behind me in this little van. I was pinching
Q. Is it more family-based?
A. It’s fairly adult, it’s certainly not
a kid romp movie. My character is a suicidal Proust scholar.
Q. Will your four-year-old be allowed to watch it?
A. Well she does enjoy Proust. It’s certainly not
a kids’ movie but it’s not at all the tone of The
40-Year-Old-Virgin. It’s more in the sense of a Hal Ashby
film. It’s a little bit more gentle, it’s very moody.
The two directors, who are editing it right now, are big music
video directors. This is their first feature.
So their visuals are very important in terms of how they’re
framing the shots. I think it will be a very beautiful movie as
Q. Can we expect a raunchfest on the 40-Year-Old Virgin
A. We might even call it The Raunchfest, and just leave
off the title of the movie.
There will be elements that didn’t make the theatrical version
that could perhaps be a little bit raunchier. But frankly most
of what we shot is in the movie. It’s pretty raunchy already.
I don’t know what you want, I don’t know how dirty
you are as an individual.
We shot a million feet of film for the movie. And I didn’t
know this but when you shoot that much the company that manufactures
the film comes to the set with champagne. On the final day we
went over a million feet, and as we did they call it out. Some
representatives from, I think it was Kodak, came out with cases
of champagne for the cast and the crew because we had made their
So there’s a lot of footage, and lot of out-takes. And I
know that Judd was doing a video diary throughout the whole thing.
So there’ll be a lot of extras.
Q. Did you ever get into trouble with your wife about
some of the content and scenes?
A. She had taken care of our one and our four year old,
and I came in and sat down on the couch and kicked my shoes off
and said ‘I am so tired!’. She shot me a look that
I’ll never forget. ‘Oh really? You’ve just made
out with Elizabeth Banks all day, when I’ve been caring
for your children. Don’t even talk to me about it!.
She plays the health care counsellor in the movie, so she enjoyed
that. It wasn’t really a point of contention between us.
She was just giving me a little grief.
Q. How did you go about getting the male-female balance
in the film? It does play to both, despite starting from a predominantly
A. Judd and I talked a lot about tone when we first started
discussing the movie, and what we wanted to achieve with it. First
we had to decide how bawdy it would be, and how much heart we
wanted to be instilled in the movie as well.
And we both agreed that we wanted the characters to be believable
and empathetic. People that you would care about. And implicit
in that is a bigger heart to the movie. That’s something
that we wanted. We wanted to achieve that without it being cloying
or too precious. We wanted to earn that side of it.
Within that we wanted it to be extremely funny as well. So we
were sort of walking a tightrope between how raunchy is it going
to be and how much heart is it going to have, without each cancelling
the other out.
Q. How did you go about pitching the taboo that is male
A. It’s so funny because when we were pitching
the movie and talking to people about it they just assumed that
The 40-Year-Old Virgin meant a woman. It was a bit of a shift
Talking to me they asked who was playing the virgin, and when
I said that I was you saw the gears in their head move, trying
to get onto the same page.
We weren’t looking at demographics, saying this part will
appeal to women and this part will appeal to men. We just did
what we thought would be funny, but also charming and sweet, while
telling a nice story without being too saccharine.
Q. Is it true, then, that you needed to retain the character's
dignity for Catherine’s character to fall for Andy?
A. My character had to be normal enough and appealing
enough that Catherine’s character would find him appealing.
We definitely wanted to make the character of Andy a decent guy,
not creepy or emotionally scarred but just a decent guy who’d
missed out on some opportunities.
Q. Apparently, you visited a lot of virgin websites as
part of the research? Is this true?
A. We got a bit like that, but most of our research came
through these case studies from Universal about middle aged virginity.
We read up on those and the people that we read about were not
unlike the character of Andy, generally speaking.
They were normal people who had missed out on some opportunities
and decided at a certain point that it wasn’t worth trying
any more. They were just going through life. So I think that kind
of reassured us that we were on the right track with this guy.
We didn’t want to paint him as a cliché, or a stereotype
in any way.
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our review of the film
Steve Carell talks
The Office and Ricky Gervais
Watch clips from the film
- including some naughty stuff!!!