The Q&A

Nut Job

We go ''Over the Hedge'' with Steve Carell. How does one speak like a squirrel? The master thespian (of ''The Office'' and ''40-Year Old Virgin'' fame) lets us in on his secret

'OVER' YONDER Carell never met his ''Hedge'' costars
Image credit: Steve Carell: Jonathan Alcorn/WireImage.com
'OVER' YONDER Carell never met his ''Hedge'' costars

EW caught up with Steve Carell on the set of the Bruce Almighty sequel, Evan Almighty, to chat about his overcaffeinated role as the voice of Hammy the squirrel in the upcoming animated film Over the Hedge (in theaters May 19). He spoke about his vocal inspirations, his Shakespearean dreams, and why God (in the form of Morgan Freeman) wants him to build a gigantic, Noah-style ark.

So where did the voice of Hammy come from?
Well, I'm a Method guy, so I just really tried to listen to all the talking squirrels around me. I'd say about 80 to 90 percent of them have exactly that pitch.

I heard they went to the Office set to record one of your lines: ''I found my nuts!'' That must have been interesting.
I was literally standing in the middle of the set, dressed as Michael Scott, complete with coat and tie, doing this absurd, high-pitched character.

Having mastered the squirrel, which animal is next?
I would like to do Hamlet, but in the voice of Hammy.

That would be quick.
Gielgud actually did Hamlet in that voice and it was spectacular.

And are you going to leave the set to go to Cannes for the world premiere of Over the Hedge?
I think I'm going to fly out for the U.S. premiere, and that's the first time I will have seen any of it animated. I find it's best to be totally unprepared in order to answer questions about the film.

And how is it going with Evan Almighty?
It's kind of epic. I'm standing in front of... they're building this ark! They're really building an ark. It's going to be amazing, just the practical aspects of it. So far, it's coming out really well. Knock wood, I think it's going to be something special. We'll see.

And this is an interesting plot, given how your character ended up at the end of Bruce Almighty. You were like Darth Vader spiraling off into space at the end of Star Wars, but now you're back.
Everybody's calling this my Empire Strikes Back. I've heard that five times today already. It's kind of weird, I had that little part in Bruce Almighty and it evolved into this.

Good thing you weren't killed off.
You know what? They would have found a way to revive me.

It could have been a dream.
Could have been a Bobby Ewing thing...

Originally posted Apr 19, 2006
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