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HIS DAY'S DONE AT 'THE OFFICE'

Steve Carell wants to spend more time with his kids.

LOS ANGELES

Steve Carell has no minions.

"I don't even have an assistant," says the star of Despicable Me. "So I certainly don't have any minions."

The longtime star of NBC's The Office admits that having minions of his own might be helpful in his day-to-day life but sees no need for them.

"I just feel I can get my own dry cleaning. I'm good with taking my own car to get it washed."

Which gives you a bit of an idea how down-to-earth the 47-year-old actor and father of two is.

In the 3-D animated Despicable Me, opening in theaters on Friday, Carell is the voice of Gru, a super-villain set on stealing the moon. Helping him are his minions. Super-villains, like the ones in Bond films, always have minions. In this case, they are adorable little thumblike yellow guys with goggles.

Of course, the big news about Carell is that he's leaving the role of Michael Scott on The Office after this coming season, and while he has publicly stated that he "thinks it's time," what he means to some degree is that he wants to have more time to watch his own kids - a daughter, 9, and a son, 6 - grow up.

"I just wanted to step back from it a little bit and spend a little bit more time with my kids who are still young, and enjoy them while I can," says Carell. "They're growing up really fast, though I hate to use that cliche. (But) that's the real heart of my reasoning."

He's not worried about the fate of The Office, though.

"I have no doubt that the show will continue and continue to be strong. It's a great ensemble and great writers. And ultimately I think it's probably not a bad thing for the show, either, to ... infuse it with a different energy."

Back in the early 1990s, Carell was at Chicago's Second City with Stephen Colbert, and he says working there helped develop his comedy style. National success for Carell was a long time coming, though, and was something he didn't expect.

He met his wife, Nancy Walls, at Second City, and he left the troupe to move to New York City to be with her when she won a spot on Saturday Night Live in 1995. He then joined Colbert in writing for the short-lived The Dana Carvey Show, and then took writing jobs while doing small parts on TV.

Eventually, the three Second City alums would be reunited when they were hired as writer/correspondents on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 1999. It's there that Carell's career began to take off.

But it was two supporting roles in hit comedy films - Jim Carrey's Bruce Almighty (2003) and Will Ferrell's Anchorman (2004) - that helped get him noticed by wider audiences. Then in 2005, he hit it big when he starred in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which he co-wrote, and the first season of The Office.

"I continue to be (surprised by my success)," says Carell. "It's odd. I felt that I became a success in 1988 when I stopped waiting tables, and I was actually employed as an actor. I haven't had to take another job since then besides acting."

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