LONDON (Reuters) – Actor Steve Carell takes on the real-life story of a man recovering from a brutal attack in his latest Hollywood offering “Welcome to Marwen”, as he uses art as a form of therapy.
The 56-year-old “The Office” and “Foxcatcher” star plays American photographer Mark Hogancamp, who in 2000 was viciously assaulted outside a bar after telling a group of guys he liked to cross dress.
Haunted by the attack, Hogancamp turns to art, building a miniature Belgian village during World War Two in his garden, where he uses dolls to re-enact scenes.
“He went through such a traumatic experience and I wanted to impress upon him that his story meant a lot to me and I think to everyone involved with the making of the movie,” Carell told Reuters.
“The inspiration to me is to portray somebody like that who in the face of such adversity retained his humanity.”
The dolls are brought to life in the film and led by Carell’s computer-animated U.S. army pilot Hogie and his band of machine gun-carrying women inspired by people Hogancamp knows. They include a neighbor, friend and carer, played by Leslie Mann, Janelle Monae and Gwendoline Christie.
“All of the closest people in his world are women… He surrounds himself with women and that gives him strength,” Carell said.
The actor, who describes Hogie as a “much, much better looking version of me”, had to practice walking in heels as his character likes to wear women’s shoes.
“It’s hard to make it look natural,” he said. “I can’t comprehend how anyone would do that on a daily basis.”
“Welcome to Marwen” is directed by Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis, known for “Back to the Future” and “Forrest Gump”.
“I thought wouldn’t it be magnificent to be able to go into his imagination and see the way he actually in his mind brings these dolls to life,” Zemeckis said.
“We built the dolls and we had a wardrobe for them… and then we scanned them… and when the actors act their movement, their performances translate it onto the doll.”
“Welcome to Marwen” is the latest dramatic role taken on by Carell, known for making audiences laugh in films like “Anchorman” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”.
“It’s really just the scripts that I’ve been offered and the things that were appealing to me… It wasn’t a conscious decision a move away from comedy,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be doing that again at some point.”
Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alexandra Hudson