The Way, Way Back - Toni Collette, Steve Carell and Allison Janney
The Way, Way Back - Pam (Toni Collette), Trent (Steve Carell) and Betty (Allison Janney) ©WWBSP LLC

Pictured above: The Way, Way Back – Pam (Toni Collette), Trent (Steve Carell) and Betty (Allison Janney) ©WWBSP LLC

Steve Carell and Toni Collette, who co-starred in Little Miss Sunshine, team up again for the new movie The Way, Way Back, a poignant coming-of-age story of 14-year-old Duncan’s (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). The movie opens on July 5th..

Premiering the same week, on July 3rd, is Despicable Me 2, where Carell reprises the voice of super-villain Gru who, in the new movie, has given up his despicable ways to become the perfect dad.

At the press day, Steve spoke about the movies and his surprise appearance on the finale of The Office.

Everyone knows that you’re such a nice person, is that why you decided to play Trent in The Way, Way Back?

The Way, Way Back - Toni Collette and Steve Carell
The Way, Way Back – Pam (Toni Collette) and Trent (Steve Carell) ©WWBSP LLC

I thought it was a really interesting character to play. I didn’t necessarily see him as a bad guy, maybe not somebody you would define as a nice, warm spirited person.

I guess the best comparison I can make is, when I was growing up I played a lot of sports and had a lot of coaches that were very tough on me, and that’s sort of the way I see this guy.

He thinks he’s doing what’s best for this kid, with the tough love and the character building and the brutal honesty, but that’s his method.

I don’t think anyone is as mean or as nice as you think they are. There are dark aspects to me, I’m sure, but not perhaps that dark.

Were you surprised that Toni was going to be in this with you?

I was so excited because we called each other when this was all happening. We were talking back and forth, ‘Are you going to do it? I think I’m going to do it.’ The experience was very similar to Little Miss Sunshine, because we both read the script, thought it was great, as we did with Little Miss Sunshine.

We shot it, we saw it and thought, ‘This turned out well, it’s a really sweet movie.’ Then we went to Sundance together and it had this overwhelming response, which was very similar to Little Miss Sunshine. So we felt like we had captured lightning in a bottle twice.

At the end of this movie, things are not resolved. How often do you see that in a script?

It’s not very common. I can tell you exactly when it happened before. It was Little Miss Sunshine, because the end of that things are not tied into a nice, neat bow and yet you feel like something has happened, there has been a shift with these characters.

Things are different, but they’re not resolved, and I personally I love that gray area, because there is a hopefulness to it and a beauty to it, but there’s also a feeling that it’s based in life. Life rarely winds up being perfect and neat.

Despicable Me 2 - Steve Carell
Despicable Me 2 – Gru (Steve Carell) gets back to work with his Minions © 2013 Universal Studios

You reprised the role of Gru for Despicable Me 2. What was it about the character that you wanted to voice it in the first movie?

I’m a parent with two little kids, and I identified with the story in the first film because it was honest in its depiction. Having  kids completely changes a person’s life, in all the best ways.

Despicable Me 2 - Steve Carell
Despicable Me 2 – Steve Carell does the voice recordng for Gru © 2013 Universal Studios

Why do you think the first movie was such a success?

Kids could relate and enjoy the humor; parents related to what kids bring to the equation. In that sense, it’s universal. But it was also funny, exciting and silly at times.

Steve was asked about his surprise appearance on The Office finale – click here to listen to his reply.

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Despicable Me 2 - Steve Carell and Ellen DeGeneres
Steve Carell as Gru from Despicable Me 2 and Ellen on Ellen DeGeneres Show on May 30, 2013

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.