Yes, we swear, that’s really Steve Carell. The star dons a prosthetic nose — and an uncharacteristically gloomy demeanor — in this exclusive image from his new movie Foxcatcher (out Dec. 20). In director Bennett Miller’s follow-up to Moneyball, Carell stars as John DuPont, the real-life chemical heir who befriended Olympic wrestler brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) before murdering David in 1996.
If you didn’t recognize Carell at first sight, you’re not alone. “We just had our first test [screening], and not everybody recognized Steve. He is aged [for the film], and his face is changed, and his physicality changed,” says Miller, who explains that the unlikely casting of Carell as a killer is an important part of making the character feel authentic. “If I say I’m going to make a movie about a guy who’s a schizophrenic murderer, there are probably a dozen actors who would immediately appear on anybody’s casting list. And Steve would not be on any of those lists. And that’s a good thing. Because it’s unexpected… John DuPont was a character who nobody thought was capable of doing something as horrible as he did. And I did not want to cast somebody who would feel dangerous in that way.”
According to Miller, there’s also much more to Carell than his funny-guy roles in The Office and Anchorman might suggest. “I had met Steve before, and there was something about him that really interested me. There’s something guarded and a real intelligence going on behind his eyes,” says Miller. “I love performances like Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy, and Peter Sellers in everything, and working with Jonah [Hill] in Moneyball. Comedians are dark, but I think we tend to think of them along the lines of what they project. I just think there’s a hell of a lot more to Steve than he tends to show.”