Look up the word "schmuck" in the dictionary and you'll learn that it comes from the Yiddish "shmok," meaning "A clumsy or stupid person; an oaf" or — more literally — male genitalia. It probably goes without saying that you wouldn't want to break bread with a bunch of them.
"I play this guy Tim, who is trying to get into the upper echelon of his company and gets invited to join the ranks [of upper management] — the final test is a dinner the boss holds every month," Rudd explained of the flick, directed by "Austin Powers" and "Meet the Parents" mastermind Jay Roach. "And the idea is that each person that works for this company — they're all jerky guys — have to invite the biggest idiot they can find, or moron or schmuck. I'm a little morally on the fence — but then I get handed on a silver platter Steve, who plays Barry."
"He likes to make dioramas with dead mice, and he will dress them up in historical outfits — he will dress them up as they look in famous paintings," Carell revealed of his schmucky character. "It's a hobby; it's something that is an outlet for him.
"We have a fortuitous meeting, and it becomes apparent all too quickly that I am a perfect candidate for this dinner," the "Office" star continued, explaining their modern remake of the 1998 French comedy "Le Diner de Cons," or "The Dinner of Dumbasses" in literal translation. "And the trouble that ensues is my character complicates [Tim's] personal life, his life with his girlfriend, his life with his boss, any potential business clients.
"I make it much, much worse than it already had been," Carell grinned.
"In the span of 24 hours," Rudd agreed, "he destroys my life."
In films like "Anchorman," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Role Models," both Carell and Rudd have played their fair share of schmucks. But in real life, the two longtime friends insisted that their dumbass ways are just a clever façade.
"You can't take [being cast as a schmuck] personally, because a lot of what I do in my real life, I try to be cool," Carell insisted. "I try to exude a real steady charm and sort of a slyness. Yet people take away that I'm just a fool and an idiot. So it's hurtful, but frankly, it's a job."
" 'Jerky' is just openly hostile," Rudd explained, insisting that he preferred to be remembered by that adjective. "As for 'schmuck,' there seems to be something lovable in schmuck."
With the film due out next July, Carell and Rudd hope fans will find it every bit as lovable. But as for which one of them turns out to be the endearing one, well, they said we'll just have to wait and find out.
"People who are perceived to be fools, especially in this movie, what you think is not necessarily the truth," Carell insisted. "What the perception is can be vastly different from the truth."
"Who's the real schmuck in this?" Rudd asked. "You might have to see the film."
Check out everything we've got on "Dinner for Schmucks."
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