Steve Carell has become an icon in film and television with a distinct deadpan tone. Now he's taking on another legendary icon, playing Maxwell Smart in the movie version of Get Smart. Even on the set, still shooting the film, Carell was concerned about playing the role.
Steve Carell Talks Get Smart
"I’ll tell you what I don’t want to do," he said. "I don’t want to do an impression of Don Adams. I don’t want to channel him but I want to do the character justice. I don’t want the Maxwell Smart character to be perceived of as sort of a bumbling idiot. He’s not an Inspector Clousseau. He’s proficient and he can take care of himself. He’s sort of gets the job done counter-intuitively but he gets the job done. In the original series he could fight and he wasn’t an idiot but he was certainly eccentric and he was a very much by the book, straight-laced sort of guy. That’s more of the tact that I’m taking. That’s the approach that I think will set it apart from being a spy spoof, which I never really saw the original series as. I don’t think it’s a spy spoof."
Studio marketing might not be so happy about the "not a spy spoof" label, but Carell threw them a bone. "One of the things that I wanted to do about tone with this was that it be sort of a comedic <B>Bourne Identity</B>. That was tonally what I was hoping for and I think so far it’s kind of hitting that. I think it’s a spy comedy but I don’t think it’s spoofing the whole idea of spies. It was more, in my opinion, a comment on the cold war and international relations and that sort of thing. In terms of the movie, specifically I really didn’t want it to be perceived of as a spoof. I think spoofs as a genre have been done and done well but that’s not what I was interested in doing. I thought if these characters sort of exist in a semi real environment, sort of a parallel universe it might exist on some level. I think then the comedy will be funnier if there’s a sense of jeopardy and a sense that the bad guys are really bad guys and not just cartoons, I think there’s more to be mined from that."
Get Smart is not about the realistic CIA, but it is a believable world. "or this version of the TV show, first of all it’s set in a sort of a parallel world in which one of America’s secret spy organizations is called CONTROL and their nemesis spy organization is called KAOS who extensively are out to take over the world and each side has various characters that go up against each other. Eccentric, crazy some silly, some very serious. The version that we’re doing is more of an origin story in terms of where this character of Maxwell Smart came from. How he came to be a field operative. We just thought that would be an interesting way into the story as opposed to just picking him up on his journey."
The origin story will show exactly where Maxwell Smart came from. "He works for CONTROL at the beginning of the movie but as an analyst and he’s invaluable because he speaks many different languages and he’s essentially a tech nerd. He listens to chatter and he can assimilate information and he’s very good at that. He gets great reconnaissance done from the office but his goal and dream has always been to become an agent. But he’s never stepped up, but some things transpire that enable him to step into that position and he finally gets his chance at sort of an advanced age."