Despicable Steve: Is Steve Carell Better At Playing A Jerk Or The Nice Guy?

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Steve Carell: Nice or Jerk?

It’s Steve Carell’s 51st birthday today, and we are all celebrating because, everybody loves Steve Carell. We know this to be true because your mom would invite him over for dinner if she could, and you’ve thought about what it would be like to hug him at least once or twice. But what about his best characters? While lovable, The Office‘s Michael Scott was a jerk, as seen in the often clumsy emotional abuse he’d inflict on his employees in effort to validate his less than pristine personal life. Yet his questionable behavior kept people watching.

This summer, Carell plays a straight-up jerk with zero redeeming qualities in The Way, Way Back, and reprises his role as the evil villain Gru in Despicable Me 2. So far, both films have been successful, proving once again that moviegoers enjoy seeing Carell play against type. But has he been more successful playing a mean dude, or would we rather see him the way we imagine him to be in real life — how we hope he’d act towards us if we bumped into him at Starbucks on a busy Wednesday morning?

Steve Carell Scale

Check out our investigation of Carell’s most famous characters (ranked from nicest to jerkiest, below) along with the film’s box office recoup percentage and average rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Early conclusions? Facial hair works in his favor, as long as it’s not unruly (see: Evan Almighty).

Steve Carell Scale

[Photos: Universal; DreamWorks; Carousel Productions; Sycamore Pictures; Paramount; Touchstone; Fox Searchlight]

THE NICE GUYS

1. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
As pure and well-intentioned as they come, Andy Stitzer doesn’t even think to make a huge effort to hide the fact that he’s middle aged and never had sex–he’s just that good of a guy. 

2. Dinner For Schmucks (2010)
Barry Speck is the loser deemed pitiful enough for a cruel adult experiment used to make others feel better about themselves and get ahead in the workplace, and about as harmless as a sleeping corgi.

3. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
A children’s beauty pageant is probably the last place that Frank Ginsburg wants to be following a suicide attempt, but he rides along in the cramped Volkswagen Microbus to support his enthusiastic niece anyway.