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25 Middle Children Who Did Big Things

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Though children in the middle of the birth order may have a reputation for being "embittered wallflowers," experts have discovered that the stereotype is far from the truth. Instead, middle children tend to be empathetic, independent thinkers who don't feel the need to conform to societal norms. Still not convinced? We'll let these 25 middle children speak for themselves.

1. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Honest Abe had an older sister, Sarah, who was more like a mother to him after their mother died when he was just 9 years old. He also had a younger brother, Thomas, who died at three days old. Sadly, Sarah and her infant died due to childbirth complications when she was just 20.

2. WARREN BUFFETT

An older man (financial guru Warren Buffett) in a suit, a red tie, and glasses has his leg crossed at the knee and is smiling slightly.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The financial guru also known as the Oracle of Omaha is sandwiched between two sisters: Doris and Roberta. Doris now heads the Sunshine Lady Foundation, an organization that provides funding and opportunities for disadvantaged people. Roberta, or “Bertie,” who calls herself the “quiet one,” is also a philanthropist.

3. PRINCESS DIANA

Born Diana Frances Spencer, Princess Diana was the fourth of five children; she had two older sisters and a younger brother. (Another brother lived only a few hours after birth.) Prince Charles actually dated Diana's sister Sarah first, but there were no hard feelings: "I introduced them," Sarah later claimed. "I'm Cupid."

4. DAVID LETTERMAN

A smiling, bearded man (David Letterman) stands on stage wearing a suit and a striped tie.
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Peabody

The former late night host has an older sister, Janice, and a younger sister, Gretchen. Gretchen was a journalist at the Tampa Bay Times for 31 years.

5. BILL GATES

Another success story surrounded by sisters, Gates was born between older sister Kristi and younger sister Libby.

6. PEYTON MANNING

Peyton Manning, wearing a football jersey with a collared shirt underneath, smiles and waves.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

You know about younger brother Eli, also a Super Bowl champ. But Peyton also has an older brother, Cooper, who hosts The Manning Hour on Fox Sports.

7. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

His older sister, Dr. Christine King Farris, was a professor at Spelman College and has written several books. His younger brother, Alfred Daniel, also an activist and pastor, drowned in his home swimming pool just 15 months after King was assassinated in 1968. Alfred was a strong swimmer—his family has since speculated that he was also murdered.

8. BRITNEY SPEARS

A blonde woman (performer Britney Spears) wearing a black choker necklace is smiling directly at the camera.
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Clear Channel

You may know Britney's younger sister Jamie Lynn for her Nickelodeon sitcom Zoey 101 or for her work as a country music singer and songwriter. The Spears sisters also have an older brother, Bryan, who has produced various projects for his family.

9. JOHN F. KENNEDY

As part of the famous Kennedy clan, John was the second of nine children. The first, Joseph Jr., was being groomed for the presidency until he was killed during a WWII mission. JFK's younger siblings were Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Ted.

10. MADONNA

The singer Madonna singing into a microphone on stage, wearing a black drapey costume and holding a black guitar.
Graham Denholm/Getty Images

She has two older brothers, Anthony and Martin, and three younger siblings—Paula, Christopher, and Melanie. Christopher worked closely with his sister for decades, but his 2008 tell-all book caused a rift between them.

11. CHARLES DARWIN

The father of evolution had three older sisters, one older brother, and a younger sister. He was exceptionally close with his brother Erasmus, known affectionately as "Uncle Ras" to Darwin's children.

12. DIANA ROSS

Singer Diana Ross, wearing a formal black dress with sheer sleeves, smiles and lifts her hair back as she stands in front of a  wall emblazoned with Grammy Awards.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Diana, the second of six children, isn’t the only star in the family: Her sister, Barbara, is a rock star in the medical field. Barbara Ross-Lee is known for helping to modernize the way physicians are educated, and has served as the dean of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine as well as Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology.

13. ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Hemingway was the second child of six: Marcelline was a year older than him, Ursula was three years younger, Sunny was five years younger, Carol was 12 years younger, and the baby of the family, Leicester, was 16 years younger. Sadly, Leicester followed in his older brother's footsteps and committed suicide at the age of 67.

14. MICHAEL JORDAN

Basketball player Michael Jordan, wearing a light blue, long-sleeved Carolina Football shirt with the Air Jordan symbol in the middle, sticks his tongue out and smiles in front of a crowd.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The basketball legend is one of five kids: Three older siblings Larry, James, and Deloris, and younger sister Roslyn. According to their father, Larry was the son with the future in basketball—until Michael shot up five inches between his sophomore and junior year of high school. It's said that Michael chose the number 23 because he hoped to be even half as good as his brother, who wore number 45.

15. THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Teddy Roosevelt's older sister, Anna or "Bamie", raised his oldest daughter, Alice, when her mother died shortly after giving birth. Younger brother Elliott was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt, while youngest sister Corinne was a poet and writer.

16. CHARLOTTE AND EMILY BRONTE

A painting of three women with dark, curly hair sitting in a semi-circle and wearing dark, old-fashioned dresses.

National Portrait Gallery // Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Charlotte and Emily are the most well-known Brontës, thanks to their respective novels Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis within six weeks of each other. Younger sister Anne was also a writer who produced work under the male pen name Acton Bell. She died of tuberculosis at age 29. Between Charlotte and Emily was the sole Brontë brother, Branwell, a painter and writer who also died young of—you guessed it—tuberculosis.

17. MICHAEL JACKSON

The King of Pop's older siblings were Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya, and Marlon. His younger siblings were Randy and Janet. Brandon, twin to Marlon, was stillborn. All of the Jackson children were musically successful—in addition to the Jackson Five, each of them had at least one hit on the Billboard charts.

18. WALT DISNEY

A black and white photo of Walt Disney wearing a suit coat and smiling up and to the right.
R. Mitchell/Express/Getty Images

If you’re a Disney buff or even a casual follower of the Disney company, you probably know Walt’s older brother Roy, who was the financial brain behind Disney operations. Brothers Herbert and Raymond were also older than Walt; his younger sister was named Ruth.

19. MARK TWAIN

He was the sixth of seven children, though only three of his siblings survived to adulthood: Orion, Henry, and Pamela. Sadly, Henry Clemens didn't make it much beyond childhood—he died at age 19 after being badly burned when a boiler exploded on the steamboat Pennsylvania.

20. MARK ZUCKERBERG

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, wearing a dark blue suit and light blue tie, laughs as he stands in front of a pair of microphones.
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Older sister Randi is the former Director of Market Development for Facebook; she's now the CEO of Zuckerberg Media and working on "a tech-driven pop-up dining experience" for children. He also has two younger sisters, Donna and Arielle.

21. GRACE KELLY

Actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly had two older siblings, Margaret and John Jr., and a younger sister named Elizabeth. John Jr. was a four-time Olympic rower. He gave his bronze medal to Grace as a wedding present when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco.

22. MARTHA STEWART

Martha Stewart, wearing a tan collared shirt, stands in front of a textured background and smiles at the camera.
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The second of six children, Martha brought several family members into her business. Her youngest sister, Laura, ran the day-to-day operations of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, while younger brother George, a contractor, helped remodel her home.

23. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE

Georgia was the second of seven children, three of whom were artists. Sisters Ida and Catherine sometimes exhibited works alongside their famous sister, but Georgia felt that neither of them lived up to their full potential. When Ida died in 1961 at the age of 71, Georgia told her family it was a wasted life.

24. JENNIFER LOPEZ

Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez wearing a black, ribbed turtleneck sweater and smiling.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

J. Lo has an older sister, Leslie, and a younger sister, Lynda, who is an award-winning journalist.

25. SUSAN B. ANTHONY

The women's rights leader was the second-oldest of seven children—and nearly all of them were also activists. Brothers Daniel and Merritt worked for the anti-slavery movement. Sister Mary Anthony was also a suffragist and women's rights pioneer.

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15 Fascinating Facts About Julia Child
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Julia Child was much more than just a bestselling cookbook author and chef. Over the course of her life, she was also a breast cancer survivor, a TV trailblazer, and a government spy. It's the famed chef's spy game that will be the focus of Julia, a new series being developed by ABC Signature and created by Benjamin Brand.

The project will draw its inspiration from Child's PBS program, Cooking for the C.I.A. “I was disappointed when I learned that in this case, the C.I.A. stood for the Culinary Institute of America,” Brand told Deadline. “Cooking Secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency always seemed like a more interesting show to me. Many years later, when I read a biography of Julia Child and learned about her experiences during World War II, working for the Office of Strategic Services—the precursor to the C.I.A.—the story of Julia quickly fell into place.”

Though Julia will be a work of fiction, here are 15 facts about the beloved cook.

1. SHE MET THE INVENTOR OF THE CAESAR SALAD WHEN SHE WAS A KID.

As a preteen, Julia Child traveled to Tijuana on a family vacation. Her parents took her to dine at Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, so that they could all try his trendy “Caesar salad.” Child recalled the formative culinary experience to The New York Times: “My parents were so excited, eating this famous salad that was suddenly very chic. Caesar himself was a great big old fellow who stood right in front of us to make it. I remember the turning of the salad in the bowl was very dramatic. And egg in a salad was unheard of at that point.” Years later, when she was a famous chef in her own right, Child convinced Cardini’s daughter, Rosa, to share the authentic recipe with her.

2. THE WAVES AND WACS REJECTED HER BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO TALL.

Like so many others of her generation, Child felt the call to serve when America entered World War II. There was just one problem: her height. At a towering 6'2", Child was deemed “too tall” for both the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC). But she was accepted by the forerunner to the CIA, which brings us to our next point.

3. SHE WAS A SPY DURING WORLD WAR II.

Child took a position at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was basically the CIA 1.0. She began as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division, where she worked directly for the head of the OSS, General William J. Donovan. But she moved over to the OSS Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, and then took an overseas post for the final two years of the war. First in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and later in Kunming, China, Child served as the chief of the OSS Registry. This meant she had top-level security clearance. It also meant she was working with Paul Child, the OSS officer she would eventually marry.

4. SHE HELPED DEVELOP A SHARK REPELLENT FOR THE NAVY.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While Child was in the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, she helped the team in its search for a suitable shark repellent. Several U.S. naval officers had been attacked by the ocean predators since the war broke out, so the OSS brought in a scientist specializing in zoology and an anthropologist to come up with a fix. Child assisted in this mission, and recalled her experience in the book, Sisterhood of Spies: “I must say we had lots of fun. We designed rescue kits and other agent paraphernalia. I understand the shark repellent we developed is being used today for downed space equipment—strapped around it so the sharks won’t attack when it lands in the ocean.”

5. SHE GOT MARRIED IN BANDAGES.

Once the war ended, Paul and Julia Child decided to take a “few months to get to know each other in civilian clothes.” They met with family members and traveled cross-country before they decided to tie the knot. The wedding took place on September 1, 1946. Julia remembered being “extremely happy, but a bit banged up from a car accident the day before.” She wasn’t kidding; she actually had to wear a bandage on the side of her face for her wedding photos. The New York Review of Books has one of those pictures.

6. SHE WAS A TERRIBLE COOK WELL INTO HER 30S.

Child did not have a natural talent for cooking. In fact, she was a self-admitted disaster in the kitchen until she began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she and Paul lived for several years. Prior to her marriage, Child simply fed herself frozen dinners. It was probably the safest choice; one of her earliest attempts at cooking resulted in an exploded duck and an oven fire.

7. A LUNCH IN ROUEN CHANGED HER LIFE.

Child repeatedly credited one meal with spurring her interest in fine foods: a lunch in the French city of Rouen that she and Paul enjoyed en route to their new home in Paris. The meal consisted of oysters portugaises on the half-shell, sole meunière browned in Normandy butter, a salad with baguettes, and cheese and coffee for dessert. They also “happily downed a whole bottle of Pouilly-Fumé” over the courses.

8. IT TOOK HER NINE YEARS TO WRITE AND PUBLISH HER FIRST COOKBOOK.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking revolutionized home cooking when it was published in 1961—but the revolution didn't happen overnight. Child first began work on her famous tome in 1952, when she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The French women were writing a cookbook aimed at teaching Americans how to make French cuisine, and brought Child onboard as a third author. Nine years of research, rewrites, and rejections ensued before the book landed a publisher at Alfred A. Knopf.

9. SHE GOT FAMOUS BY BEATING EGGS ON BOSTON PUBLIC TELEVISION.

Child’s big TV break came from an unlikely source: Boston’s local WGBH station. While promoting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child appeared as a guest on the book review program I’ve Been Reading. But rather than sit down and discuss recipe semantics, Child started cracking eggs into a hot plate she brought with her. She made an omelette on air as she answered questions, and viewers loved it. The station received dozens of letters begging for more demonstrations, which led WGBH producer Russell Morash to offer Child a deal. She filmed three pilot episodes, which turned into her star-making show The French Chef.

10. ALL HER ESSENTIAL UTENSILS WERE KEPT IN A “SACRED BAG.”

According to a 1974 New Yorker profile, Child carried a large black canvas satchel known as the “sacred bag.” Rather than holy artifacts, it contained the cooking utensils she couldn’t live without. That included her pastry-cutting wheel, her favorite flour scoop, and her knives, among other things. She started using it when The French Chef premiered, and only entrusted certain people with its care.

11. SHE SURVIVED BREAST CANCER.

Child’s doctors ordered a mastectomy in the late 1960s after a routine biopsy came back with cancerous results. She was in a depressed mood following her 10-day hospital stay, and Paul was a wreck. But she later became vocal about her operation in hopes that it would remove the stigma for other women. She told TIME, “I would certainly not pussyfoot around having a radical [mastectomy] because it’s not worth it.”

12. HER MARRIAGE WAS WELL AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

As their meet-cute in the OSS offices would suggest, Paul and Julia Child had far from a conventional marriage (at least by 1950s standards). Once Julia’s career took off, Paul happily assisted in whatever way he could—as a taste tester, dishwasher, agent, or manager. He had retired from the Foreign Service in 1960, and immediately thrust himself into an active role in Julia’s business. The New Yorker took note of Paul’s progressive attitudes in its 1974 profile of Julia, noting that he suffered “from no apparent insecurities of male ego.” He continued to serve as Julia’s partner in every sense of the word until his death in 1994.

13. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN INDUCTED INTO THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA'S HALL OF FAME.

Child spent her early years working for what would become the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1993, she joined another CIA: the Culinary Institute of America. The group inducted Child into its Hall of Fame that year, making her the first woman to ever receive the honor.

14. SHE EARNED THE HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONORS FROM THE U.S. AND FRANCE.

Along with that CIA distinction, Child received top civilian awards from both her home country and the country she considered her second home. In 2000, she accepted the Legion D’Honneur from Jacques Pépin at Boston’s Le Méridien hotel. Just three years later, George W. Bush gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

15. HER KITCHEN IS IN THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 2001, Julia donated the kitchen that Paul designed in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Although it’s not possible to walk directly through it, there are three viewports from which visitors can see the high counters, wall of copper pots, and gleaming stove. Framed recipes, articles, and other mementos from her career adorn the surrounding walls—and, of course, there’s a television which plays her cooking shows on loop.

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15 Surprising Facts About Steve Carell
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From the seven seasons he spent as the star of NBC’s The Office to leading man roles in comedy classics like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell has become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand funnymen. But he has proven his dramatic chops, too, particularly with his role as John du Pont in Foxcatcher, which earned Carell an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 2015. Even if you’ve seen all of his movies, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about the Massachusetts native, who turns 55 years old today.

1. HE THOUGHT HE WANTED TO BE A LAWYER.

Steve Carell attended Ohio’s Denison University, where he received a history degree in 1984, and had planned to move on to law school. But when it came time to apply, he found himself stumped by the first question on the application: Why do you want to be a lawyer?

“I had never considered acting as a career choice, although I’d always enjoyed it,” Carell told NJ.com in 2011. “I enjoyed hockey and singing in the choir, and I didn’t think of them as potential careers, either … But I began to realize I really loved acting, and telling stories. Reading a book, watching a movie, going to a play, it’s transporting, and very, very exciting. And to be a part of that, creating things with your imagination, whoa."

2. HE WORKED AS A MAILMAN.

Shortly before he moved to Chicago and performed with The Second City, Carell worked as a postal carrier in the tiny town of Littleton, Massachusetts. Because the post office didn’t have its own mail vehicles, Carell had to use his own car. He kept the gig for just four months, then took off for the Windy City. “And months later, I found mail under the seat of my car,” he admitted. Carell also said it was the hardest job he has ever had.

3. HE WAS HIS WIFE’S TEACHER.

No, it’s not as risqué as it sounds. Carell met his wife, Nancy Walls, through an improv class at Second City; he was the teacher, she was one of his students. “I beat around the bush [before asking her out] and said something stupid like, ‘Well, you know, if I were to ever ask someone out, it would be someone like you,’” Carell told Details of his earliest attempts at flirting. “It’s so stupid, but it was all self-protection. She was the same way: ‘If somebody like you were to ask me out, I would definitely go out with him. If there was a person like you.’” The couple married in 1995 and have appeared in several projects together.

4. THE COUPLE HAD TO BREAK UP (ON CAMERA) ON THEIR 17TH ANNIVERSARY.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For Lorene Scafaria’s underrated 2012 end-of-the-world dramedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Steve and Nancy played a married couple who split up when it’s announced that an asteroid heading toward Earth will obliterate the planet in three weeks. Their break-up scene happens very early on in the movie, and they ended up filming it on their 17th wedding anniversary.

“She gets to leave me right at the beginning,” Carell told Parade. “They used the take where her shoe came off in the car, and she bolted across that field with one shoe on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her run that fast. We shot the scene on our 17th anniversary. [The director] got us a cake and the crew sang ‘Happy Anniversary’ to us. It was very sweet, a very special night."

5. HE AND HIS WIFE AUDITIONED FOR SNL TOGETHER; ONLY ONE OF THEM MADE IT.

In 1995, the same year they married, both Carell and Walls auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Walls made it but Carell didn’t, which must have made for one awkward celebratory dinner. But it all turned out well in the end; Carell went on to become a household name and has hosted the show on two occasions.

6. HE WAS ONE HALF OF “THE AMBIGUOUSLY GAY DUO.”

Though he missed out on the chance to become a regular SNL cast member, there was a silver lining: He was free to say “yes” to taking a role on The Dana Carvey Show, a sketch show that SNL alum Dana Carvey created for ABC. Though it was short-lived, the show was full of amazing comedic talent; in addition to Carvey and Carell, the show featured Stephen Colbert, Bob Odenkirk, and Robert Smigel and a writers room that included Louis C.K., Charlie Kaufman, and Robert Carlock. The show marked the debut of Smigel’s recurring animated sketch, “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” which followed the adventures of Gary and Ace, who were voiced by Carell and Colbert, respectively. After the show was cancelled, Smigel brought the “Duo” over to Saturday Night Live.

7. HE OWNS A GENERAL STORE IN MASSACHUSETTS.

While many A-list stars run side businesses—restaurants, wine companies, clothing lines, etc.—the Carells' second gig is a little less glamorous. In 2009, they bought the Marshfield Hills General Store in Marshfield, Massachusetts—where they spend their summers—in order to preserve it as a local landmark. 

“The main impetus to keep it going is that not many of those places exist and I wanted this one to stay afloat,” Carell told The Patriot Ledger. “Just generally speaking, there are not that many local sort of communal places as there used to be ... I think it’s nice for people to actually go and talk and have a cup of coffee and communicate with one another."

8. HE PLAYS THE FIFE.

Yes, Carell has got some musical talent and can actually play the fife. It’s a skill he acquired early in life, and shares with several of his family members. And it came in handy when he joined a reenactment group that portrayed the 10th (North Lincoln) Regiment of Foot, a line infantry regiment with the British Army.

9. HE WAS NOT THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY MICHAEL SCOTT IN THE OFFICE.

Though Michael Scott, the clueless manager of paper company Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton, Pennsylvania branch in The Office, is still probably Carell's best-known role, he wasn’t the first choice for the part. Paul Giamatti was reportedly the first choice, but he declined. Hank Azaria and Martin Short were also in the running. Bob Odenkirk was actually cast in the role because Carell was committed to another series, Come to Papa. But when that show was cancelled after just a few episodes, the role of Michael Scott was recast with Carell. (Odenkirk appeared in one of the series’s later episodes, playing a boss who was eerily similar to Carell’s Scott.)

10. WHEN CARELL LEFT THE OFFICE, THE CAST AND CREW “RETIRED” HIS NUMBER ON THE CALL SHEET.

NBC Universal, Inc.

When Carell left The Office after seven seasons to focus on his film career, the cast and crew continued one tradition in his honor. “Steve was No. 1 on the call sheet because he was the lead of the show,” co-star Jenna Fischer told TV Guide. “And when he left, we retired his number. No one, ever since he left, was allowed to be No. 1."

11. HE WAS IN TALKS TO PLAY RON DONALD ON PARTY DOWN.

Before Party Down made its premiere on Starz with Adam Scott playing failed actor Henry Pollard, it was supposed to be an HBO series with Paul Rudd in the lead. And Rudd was pushing for Carell to play bumbling catering manager Ron Donald, as The Office didn’t get off to a great start and looked to be in danger of getting cancelled. Ultimately, HBO ended up abandoning the project, which Starz scooped up—with Scott as Pollard and Ken Marino as Ron Donald.

12. JAMES SPADER REALLY WANTED TO PLAY BRICK TAMLAND IN ANCHORMAN.

Dreamworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Though it was The 40-Year-Old Virgin that turned Carell into a leading man on the big screen, his role as oddball meteorologist Brick Tamland in Anchorman brought him a lot of attention. But if James Spader had his way, Carell would never have appeared in the role at all. In a 2013 interview with Baller Status, director Adam McKay shared that before the film was even cast:

“I get a phone call and I hear that James Spader is obsessed with Brick's character. I say ‘James Spader? That is insane, will he come in and read?’ They say, ‘No, he's not going to come in and read; he's James Spader!’ James Spader and I end up talking and he called it about the Brick character. He thought it was one of the funniest character he ever read and we weren't even sure if it was going to work. He literally said, ‘I will do anything to get this role.’ Eventually, we were just like, ‘This is James Spader; he is too good for this role.’ But, he was right about how funny it was. The movie studio even questioned us and said how bizarre Brick is, and it wouldn't work. I felt bad we didn't cast James, but Carell was so good.”

Spader proved his comedic chops in 2011, when he was cast as Robert California, Michael Scott’s replacement on The Office (who quickly manages to convince the company owner to appoint him as CEO).

13. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS' EXECUTIVES WERE CONCERNED THAT CARELL WAS COMING OFF AS A SERIAL KILLER IN THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN.

Though it turned out to be one of 2005’s biggest hits, getting the tone right on Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin proved to be a fairly difficult task. At one point, executives at Universal Studios expressed their concern to Apatow that Carell might come off as a serial killer to viewers.

"There is a fine line," producer Mary Parent told the Los Angeles Times. "Men and women alike could look at him and if he's too much of a sad sack, they will think, 'Dude, get a life.’” Apatow ended up adding several lines about the fact that Carell’s character could be a serial killer.

14. HE LEARNED MAGIC FROM DAVID COPPERFIELD.

In 2013, Carell played a magician in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. In order to get the role just right, he went straight to the top: David Copperfield. The famed illusionist taught Carell and co-star Steve Buscemi a trick called “The Hangman,” and they were both sworn to secrecy. “I actually had to sign something that I would not divulge,” Carell told The Hollywood Reporter. “So that was kind of cool.”

15. HE OFFERED PRINCETON'S 2012 CLASS SOME TIPS FOR SUCCESS.

In 2012, Carell delivered a speech to Princeton University graduates—which included his niece—during Class Day. He ended his talk by offering some tips to the grads:

“I would like to leave you with a few random thoughts. Not advice per se, but some helpful hints: Show up on time. Because to be late is to show disrespect. Remember that the words 'regime' and 'regimen' are not interchangeable. Get a dog, because cats are lame. Only use a 'That's what she said' joke if you absolutely cannot resist. Never try to explain a 'That's what she said' joke to your parents. When out to eat, tip on the entire check. Do not subtract the tax first. And every once in a while, put something positive into the world. We have become so cynical these days. And by we I mean us. So do something kind, make someone laugh, and don't take yourself too seriously.”

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