Before They Were Famous: Steve Carell in 1991's 'Curly Sue'

A year after the mega-success of "Home Alone," Warner Bros. pushed "Curly Sue" as the next big feel-good family comedy, and its star Alisan Porter as the female Macaulay Culkin. That turned out to be as ridiculous as trying to sell Jim Belushi as the next John Belushi.

While the film didn't live up to the hype, it is now a permanent footnote in pop culture history for giving "Crazy, Stupid, Love" star Steve Carell his first movie role as Tesio, the silent yet snooty waiter.

Momentarily catching sight of a 1991 Carell in his few moments of screen time is a bit creepy. Then 29 years old, he looks eerily similar to how he's looked for the past 20 years. Come to think of it, this makes Carell a director's dream -- you can do reshoots with him five years after filming your movie, and no one will be the wiser.

"Curly Sue" was primarily shot in the Chicago, and therefore many of the smaller roles were given to local actors. Among them was Carell, who, after failing as a mailman in Littleton, Mass., moved to the Windy City and joined legendary comedy school The Second City, where Stephen Colbert ended up being his understudy.

In the film, when Bill Dancer (Belushi) and Curly Sue con a upscale restaurant to get some food, Carell appears as Tesio, the waiter who is summoned to "notify Albert that we have a situation." Tesio takes it in and then exits, stage right; Chef Albert, an early-'90s version of The Rock, later tosses Dancer out of the restaurant and into a parked van.

Without even speaking, Carell nails the funny-pretentious jerk personae that made him so memorable as a "Daily Show" correspondent. While Carell as Tesio embodies the waiters we all love to hate, he didn't land another role in major-studio film until 12 years later in "Bruce Almighty."

Buy "Curly Sue" on DVD

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