Something of an older woman's sex symbol, Steve Carell marvels at how he's paired with some of the most beautiful leading ladies in the world. His latest love interest is Keira Knightley, who, at 27, is almost half his age.
"Its fascinating to me that I've been able to work with Keira, not to mention Juliette Binoche and Julianne Moore," says the 50-year-old actor who paid his dues in stand-up comedy for years before catching his big break in 2005 with The 40 Year Old Virgin, and TV's The Office, in one fell swoop conquering both big and small screens.
"It's ridiculous. It's certainly nothing that I ever considered would happen. My wife and I actually laugh about this a lot. We sit on the couch looking at each other thinking, 'How did this come to pass?' I try to take it with good humour because you can't take any of it too seriously."
Today he's clocked up a string of hit movies including Get Smart, Date Night and Crazy, Stupid, Love, and he is now starring with Knightley in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, as well as featuring in Meryl Streep's Hope Springs.
"I know what I look like," says this former postman, whose combination of modesty and humour never fails to charm. "It would be pretty shallow of me if I started having that kind of ego. I'm very much aware of what I look like and the image I project. But if I'm handsome enough for my wife, that's all I care about. If I rock her world, I am totally good."
In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World his morose character discovers that his wife has been cheating on him for a long time - the role of his screen wife played by none other than his own real-life missus, Nancy Carell.Suggest it might be tempting fate and he shrugs. "Now that we've been married almost 17 years, I think superstition goes out the window at that point," says the actor who actually shot a scene where his wife dumps him on the Carells' 16th wedding anniversary.
However, he does confess to idle curiosity over former loves, in the same way that his character does in the film.
"Sure. From time to time I'll think about people from the past although I don't do Facebook, which would be the way to reconnect."
There was also a feckless lover who forgot to mention she was dating someone else.
"Years ago I had half of a great road trip from Massachusetts to Illinois. I went with a buddy to visit my girlfriend but by the time I got there I found out she was already dating somebody else. It was a sombre trip back," he says with that trademark forlorn look.
"I'm sure there's some regrets but I try not to let them affect me going forward," he says. "I think everybody has regrets but I do try to live in the moment and I think having kids really helps with that. I tend to live with a much brighter outlook."
Carell makes a point of never leaving his wife and kids Elisabeth, 11, and John, 8, for more than three weeks at a time. Tease him that perhaps his wife suggested that deal, he says: "No, not at all. It was me. When our kids were much younger - my son was 18 months and my daughter was four - I was gone for six months, and it destroyed me. I hated it. And it just wasn't worth it to me.
"It's just not the way I wanted to raise my kids. I didn't want to be an absentee dad. Now they're in school, it's a little bit different; they're more secure, but I still don't want to go out of town for long stretches."
However, he has no secret recipe for a happy marriage: "I'd be the last person to dole out relationship advice. I got lucky. I married the right person. I married someone who evolves; we're evolving together and we're both compliant that way . . . if you sort of go with it, and you learn from one another and you respect one another, that's what makes it work.
"Because they're (relationships) always shifting, they're always changing. People change - people grow, people become different and you see different things. It's fun to discover new things about your spouse too - that's exciting - and to be able to support one another.
"I feel like I'm a much stronger person because of her. I honestly don't know what I would do without her. I can't see my life in any other way but with her."
Recently adding "storekeeper" to his list of titles, which also include writer and producer, he bought The Marshfield Hills General Store in Marshfield, Massachusetts, close to his birthplace and where he still keeps a summer home.
"It's 150 years old," he says. "It's actually just a general store but it has this incredible history, and they used to sell Union army uniforms in the attic of this place. I chose to buy it because I didn't want it to become anything else."'I got lucky. I married the right person. I married someone who evolves.'
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