Steve Carell is a very nice man. At least, that's his reputation -- so much so that the writers of 'Knocked Up' worked in a punch line about his incorrigible congeniality (a pregnant Katherine Heigl is told, "Wow, you managed to turn Steve Carell into an a**hole. No easy feat"). It's virtually impossible to find anyone who would ever say an unkind word about Carell -- except maybe for Steve Carell himself.

In 'Crazy, Stupid, Love,' the actor plays a New Balance–sneaker-wearing man named Cal, who just found out his longtime wife (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce. This news, in turn, sends Cal on a series of misadventures with his newfound friend Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who teaches Cal that the secret to seducing women has little to do with washboard abs – which, for the record, Jacob does posses. Moviefone spoke to Carell about starring opposite Ryan Gosling's taut tummy, the uncertain status of Charlie Kaufman's 'Frank or Francis,' and the one star in Hollywood who's even nicer than he is.

Moviefone: 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' should really include a warning for unhip moviegoers who happen to wear New Balance sneakers, considering how the film feels about those shoes.
Steve Carell: You know what? I have no ax to grind with New Balance or The Gap. They've both been a staple of my adult fashion, so I stand behind my sartorial choices.

What's really surprising about this film is that it's such a big story with a lot of intersecting parts. Most films like this feel muddled. How did 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' avoid that?
I think the script is good. I think the director has had a very clear vision as to all of the different plot lines and how they all were to intersect and compliment one another. There are a lot of different characters and plots, but they don't seem extraneous to me. They all seem to rely on and help one another.

I think as human beings we are conditioned to expect an action movie to be two hours --
Right.

-- not so much with a movie like this. But with so much going on, did the longer run time add to the clarity of a movie?
Yeah, I think so. You know, one of the things I liked about how [directors] John [Requa] and Glenn [Ficarra] directed this and how they edited it -- it takes its time. It allows time for character development; it allows time to let the audience in. It doesn't jam plots and characters down your throat. It sort of invites people into the movie, and I like that. I think a lot of movies and TV shows are too tightly edited. They feel rushed to me, and this one doesn't. The laughter has time to breathe, and the characters have time to develop.

I realize this is a strange comparison, but 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' reminded me of 'The Sixth Sense' in a way. That movie takes its time, and when the twist happens you're invested and legitimately shocked.
I think that's a key word: "invested." We wanted people to become invested in the characters. We wanted the characters to feel grounded. We wanted the comedy to resonate because of that. It's that fine line, you know? That balance between the comedy and the drama, and you don't want the drama to try to feel trite or contrived or overly sentimental. You kind of have to earn it.

If I were an actor, I'd have a "No Acting Next to Ryan Gosling With His Shirt Off" clause in my contract. It looks very intimidating.
[Laughs] See! You know, working with him was one of the better experiences of my professional career. He's become a friend of mine. And he's such a talented guy and a truly good person. And it's funny that his body is receiving so much attention -- because he's not that guy. He's not the self-centered actor who works out in the gym for eight hours a day just so he can look like that. That was a character choice. He's also put on tons of weight for character. He read in the script that Emma's character says, "My God, you look like you're Photoshopped." And he took it upon himself to look that way. It was such a specific actor's choice and -- dammit! -- the guy does look Photoshopped. That's really coming from him purely as an actor, which I think is amusing to him, in a sense, because that's not who he is.


You have such a great reputation of being a nice guy. Everyone always has such nice things to say about you. Have you ever done anything d*ckish? Because I'm convinced you haven't.
Well, if I have, I probably would never talk about it, because I certainly don't want to ruin my stellar track record. Have I ever done anything d*ckish? Yeah, I'm not that nice. I just think it's odd when you're, you know -- I think I'm averagely nice to people and I think that gets overblown. I think if you treat people with the sort of respect you would want to be treated with, that's all you can ask from anyone. And that's all I really ask of myself. You know, Tom Hanks makes me look like an a**hole. So, I think I have a long way to go in order to achieve true nice-guy status.

And you're going to be working with Charlie Kaufman on 'Frank or Francis'? You two worked together on 'The Dana Carvey Show.'
Yes! Potentially. That's not a done deal but I'm hoping to. So, I would and will jump at the chance to work with him. I hope that all comes together. It's a really great script, so I'm excited about that possibility.

Interview by Mike Ryan.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.