Steve Carell on his latest turn as Despicable Me's anti-hero

Gru meets his twin brother Dru in a scene from the movie Despicable Me 3.
Gru meets his twin brother Dru in a scene from the movie Despicable Me 3.

GRU is the bad guy everyone loves.

The unconventional hero at the heart of the Despicable Me franchise gave up a career in villainy to look after his three adopted daughters, much to the disappointment of his adorably rambunctious minions.

But he still indulges in the occasional bit of mischief, like blowing up unwanted visitors and thwarting the plans of other villains.

A character with a heart of gold but an edge of darkness is what appealed to funny man Steve Carell when he accepted the role from Illumination Entertainment.

"I liked the fact that they were creating an animated movie with a hero that was kind of a bad guy, and it didn't seem your run-of-the-mill kids' movie," he tells Weekend.

"I believe kids love a little tiny bit of danger.

"When I created the voice I thought it should be a little dangerous, but not too scary to allow for the silliness and the lightness to come through as well."

In the third Despicable Me movie, Carell gets to bring a new character to life - Gru's twin brother Dru.

Separated as babies when their parents divorced, the siblings are finally reunited as adults.

"Not only is there the play and fun but the antagonism that goes on between brothers and the pushing of each other's buttons," Carell, the youngest of four brothers, says.

"I can only imagine what it's like for twins. You know that person better than anyone would. There's a really special dynamic going on there."

But Gru discovers his brother is everything he's not. Dru is upbeat, has flowing locks of blond hair and missed the family's villain gene.

"There needed to be elements of him that were similar to Gru, but his centre had to be a little bit different," Carell says.

"I figured he needed to be more earnest sounding, and his vocal quality should be lighter and higher. He's a bit more frivolous and prone to giddy laughter, which Gru is not."

Gru agrees to let Dru help him track down bad guy Balthazar Bratt, an 80s TV child star who holds a grudge against the world. They must try to retrieve the large pink diamond the shoulder-pad-wearing villain stole twice, both times in spectacular fashion.

It's the latest in a long string of escapes for Balthazar, which leads to Gru and his wife Lucy's suspension from the Anti Villain League.

South Park co-creator Trey Parker joins the Despicable Me cast as Balthazar, whose retro gadgets and 80s references are sure to entertain parents.

"When I saw the renderings of what his character was going to look like it was hilarious," Carell says.

"People like Trey and Kirsten Wiig (Lucy) can do great voices, but they're so versatile comically that they can also improvise and try different line readings that you would never expect. Illumination really allows people the freedom to bring their own persona to it."

Carell's most important critics are his children Elisabeth and John, who have grown up watching him in the franchise.

"My son was in kindergarten when the first one came out," he says.

"He can't wait for this one. It's been part of his world from such a young age, and my daughter too. She's 16 and she still loves them. As of yet they have not outgrown them."

Also returning are Miranda Cosgrove as Margo, Dana Gaier as Edith, Russell Brand as Dr Nefarious, Steve Coogan as Silas and Julie Andrews as Gru's mum.


Steve Carell, a voice actor in the upcoming animated film
Steve Carell, a voice actor in the upcoming animated film "Despicable Me 3," discusses the film during the Universal Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2017 at Caesars Palace on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Las Vegas. Chris Pizzello

Despicable Me 3 opens nationally on Thursday.

Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Trey Parker, Russell Brand.

Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin.

Rating: PG

Reviewer's last word: This clever franchise about a villain-turned-good-guy just keeps getting better as Gru's family continues to expand and he faces a new, retro foe.

Star Profile: Steve Carell:

Quirky fact: Originally wanted to be a lawyer, but he reached a question on an application form that said, "Why do you want to be a lawyer?". He could not think of anything.

Best known for: The Office, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Anchorman.

If you like this movie you'll like these: The Secret Life of Pets, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda.

Quote: "I think a character in a comedy should not know they're in a comedy."

Topics:  despicable me entertainment film steve carell weekend magazine

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