Dispatch: Steve Carell on Aisle Five
CELEBRITIES MIGHT BE, WITH special thanks to Us Weekly for so successfully working the phrase into the American vernacular, just like us. But they generally don’t make the best of neighbors. In the past few years, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lindsay Lohan, Lauren Conrad, and Rihanna, among others, have been threatened with lawsuits or injunctions by their unfamous blockmates for such things as property damage, disturbing the peace, bringing their overbearing MTV camera crews home with them, using other people’s front lawns as parking lots, et cetera. That’s why most small towns that manage to successfully adjust to a celebrity newcomer end up becoming magnets for other famous people. This has been the story in Sun Valley, Idaho, and Carmel, California, the latter a city that once, in the ’80s, elected Clint Eastwood as mayor. Dirty Harry served a single term before the townsfolk realized exactly what they’d done.
Closer to home, the South Shore town of Marshfield, population 25,000, has developed a reputation for being particularly celebrity-friendly, a place where regular people (“civilians” in gossip mag–speak) and their more fabulous brethren can coexist in peace—a sort of Sun Valley of the East. Most residents describe Marshfield as an open, welcoming, low-key town where celebrities are treated no differently from anyone else. “Nobody’s starstruck,” says Brad White, who’s lived there for 20 years. “We have so many fun, vibrant, artsy people in general that we just look at celebrities as a regular part of our community.” The more notable residents have included Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, NFL players Ryan Gibbons and Sean Morey, a long list of writers and artists of moderate fame, and three members of the band Aerosmith, who for years have been allowed to wander the streets in skinny jeans, undisturbed.
And yet despite the seeming lack of notice paid to such boldface names, something different—something quite un-Marshfieldian, in fact—has marked the town’s embrace of Steve Carell, its newest celebrity. As a television and movie actor, Carell plays characters so awkward they’re nearly unwatchable, whether he’s making off-color jokes as The Office‘s boobish Michael Scott, suffering through a chest-hair wax in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, or French-kissing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the Get Smart remake. In real life and onscreen, he’s unassuming and average-looking. He’s the kind of guy who’d wear Banana Republic corduroys to red carpet events; his shirts are by Vineyard Vines. “I have no demons,” Carell has said. “I’m as boring a person as you’ll meet.”