Steve Carell has always been open about the fact that he’s committed enough to his craft that The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s chest waxing scene was completely legitimate. Rather than rely on prosthetics, CGI, or the world’s tiniest squibs, Carell decided that the best way to play a hairy man having hair ripped off of him was by actually going through with it on film.
What we didn’t know, until writer/director/producer Judd Apatow appeared on The Rich Eisen Show yesterday, is just how close the scene came to leaving Carell without not just a bunch of chest hair but his nipples, too.
In a clip from the interview, Eisen brings up the scene, which Apatow confirms shows “the actual reaction to the pain” that Carell experienced. He talks about setting up the shot, his realization that Carell was lying when he claimed to have never been waxed before the film (“he’s manscaped,” Apatow says), and, most importantly, that these few minutes of cinema could have resulted in the actor losing a nipple.
“We needed an actress who also knew how to wax,” Apatow explains. “The number one rule when you wax is that you don’t put the wax over the nipple because you could just rip someone’s nipple off. And she did... there’s a shot!”
As it turns out, the woman cast for the part lied about her waxing expertise, which might have helped Carell’s performance by giving it a little extra bit of real terror and agony. Still, Apatow (whose own nipples, we should note weren’t in danger) doesn’t hold a grudge. “You’ve gotta fake the resume,” he says, laughing. “If there’s anything I can say to the kids out there: ‘Fake the resume ...’”
To give a little more background on the scene, Apatow explains that Carell’s reaction shouts were inspired by him visiting the notorious Action Park as a kid and hearing lines of people cursing in horrified surprise when their road rash was treated with antibacterial spray. “I told Steve that story and I said, every time, act like you’re not going to curse at her then curse,’” he continues, before saying he then got Seth Rogen to write out a list of stuff for Carell to yell out, broadcast TV appropriate and otherwise, which gave us, ultimately, the actor screaming “Kelly Clarkson!”
We imagine this list of curses, while helpful, probably wasn’t entirely necessary. After all, the brain can conjure up all kinds of wonderful expletives when forced to handle the sudden agony of pain so severe it can rip nipples from the human body.
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