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EVAN ALMIGHTY

The Next Chapter In The Almighty Series
"Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” —Genesis 6:14

Four years after the release of Bruce Almighty, Tom Shadyac remained intrigued by the spiritual. Though having declined offers to sequels before, he very much wanted to return to familiar territory with this next installment in the Almighty series. "We always thought it would be fun to make different chapters in a God series rather than just make a straight sequel to Bruce Almighty,” remarks the director. "It always felt more fruitful, creatively, to spin off different characters.”

With Evan Almighty, the director delivers the uproarious laughs he provided in films from Patch Adams to The Nutty Professor—comedies interwoven with morality tales, done in Shadyac's inimitable way. Whereas Bruce Almighty debated the question of where true power comes from, this episode of divine intervention delves into what can be forsaken in the pursuit of happiness, and the humor that lies in that conundrum. The search for an actor with the comic versatility to step into the lead role proved a bit easier than any of the filmmakers expected. A 40-year-old virgin who just so happened to be an alum of Bruce Almighty answered their prayers.

Steve Carell's small but standout performance as Bruce Nolan's nemesis, the preening, über-confident newscaster who is reduced to a babbling on-air mess, was the perfect segue for the next chapter. Carell's success on Virgin and his popular, Golden Globe-winning performance as manager Michael Scott on NBC's television series The Office had recently further showcased his comedic talents. The filmmakers were impressed and excited about the possibilities.

Recalls Shadyac, "Steve did such an amazing job in Bruce Almighty; everybody remembers his scenes. He delivered some of the funniest stuff in the movie. We thought, ‘Why not take that character and spin him off into a different film?' We already had the basic idea where God would come to someone and say, ‘Build an ark.'”

Story-wise, the filmmakers envisioned their lead character as a polished professional brimming with ambition and self-importance, yet imbued with a genuine desire to make a difference in the world. It was a premise that Shadyac and the producers realized could fit seamlessly with the character of Evan Baxter from Bruce.

"For this film, we've taken the American dream to its nth degree, which has nightmarish consequences,” Shadyac comments. "Evan desires the biggest house, biggest car, biggest job—the biggest everything—but he doesn't understand the cost of all that. He ultimately discovers that everything he does has a cost.”

Producer Michael Bostick notes, "There was something about the characters that Steve created that we thought would be great fun for God to come into Evan's life. And it just so happened that not only did it work for story purposes, but it was a blessing that Steve's star was on the rise as we were developing this movie.”

For Carell, the opportunity to reprise the arrogantly funny Evan Baxter was one he couldn't overlook. The actor was interested in expanding his role because of the direction in which Evan, a character with relatively little screen time in the last film, could go.

He explains: "I think this story is more of Evan's journey to find out who he really is, as opposed to who he's been posturing to be. His campaign promises were about changing the world, but they're empty. And along the way, he finds that a platitude is one thing, but an actual effort and a self-awareness is something that is only gained through pain, suffering or introspection.”

With the title character cast, it was time to check in with the Academy Award®- winning actor who could be the only one to bring God back to the big screen: Mo

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