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Steve Carell says Kelly Clarkson wasn't mad at him for turning her name into a swear word

Many do not know this but Steve Carell, star of dramas like Beautiful Boy and the upcoming Welcome To Marwen, used to do comedy. Back in 2005 he was even in a small film called The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which, despite its serious moments, was mostly very funny.

During this movie, Carell has his Connery-esque chest waxed while a giggling Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen (both, to our surprise, also comedians!) watch on. As strip after hair-covered strip decimates his flesh, Carell screams an assortment of random words, eventually gasping out an agonized, “Kelly Clarkson!”


In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Carell talked about meeting Clarkson, many long years after turning her name into the Stevia of swear words, and wondering how she’d react to this one unique aspect of her celebrity. Fortunately, as he tells Fallon, “she could not have been nicer” when they met for the first time early this year. “I thought she’d be mad at me about [The 40-Year-Old Virgin,]” Carell says. “I wasn’t sure because I’d never met her over those years.”

Partial proof of his claim exists in the form of a tweet from back when the meeting happened.

Of course, without Clarkson’s input, we couldn’t be sure that the introduction had turned out as well as Carell said. Luckily, we have evidence—further substantiated by a very enthusiastic #ahhhhhhhstevecarell hashtag—that she was as cool about everything as reported on Fallon.


The bigger question, of course, is why Carell would scream Kelly Clarkson’s name in a moment of physical torment. Though Carell himself can’t say for sure, he mentions being “a big fan” of the musician and that his love of her pop tunes probably has something to do with it. Given how popular Clarkson and American Idol were back in the early ‘00s, it’s a good explanation—and suggests a possible alternative take where Carell screamed “Ruben Studdard!” instead.


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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.