A Comedic Take
Despite her CSOM degree, the closest Nancy Walls Carell ’88 ever came to a corporate job was on the set of the television comedy The Office. Acting opposite her husband, Steve Carell, she will return this season as Michael Scott’s ex-girlfriend Carol Stills.
She has also lent her considerable comedic talents to The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, and films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but she first began performing with BC’s improv-comedy troupe, My Mother’s Fleabag. It was during those four-hour shows that the Cohasset, Mass., native realized her passion for acting. After graduation, Carell moved to Minneapolis with her BC friends to pursue acting in the city’s lively arts community. Her parents remained supportive: “Even though it wasn’t easy for them to watch me starve for five years, they never told me to get a real job.”
Carell persisted and moved to Chicago, where she took classes at Second City. She credits the theater and improv school for helping her hone her skills. It’s also where she met her husband, who taught one of her classes. They now have two children, and while it’s no secret that her spouse is funny, she says, “The kids are hysterical. We laugh quite a bit in our house.”
Below, Carell finds the humor in it all:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
Covering the 2000 Republican Convention for The Daily Show. We had so much fun, and because the show wasn’t as well known then, people often mistook us for serious journalists.
In your personal life?
I think my children are good human beings.
What is your best BC memory?
Performing with Fleabag and going to football games. Or the parking lot of football games, I should say.
What is your next goal?
Now that my kids are both in school full time, I’d love to start writing.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Take a semester abroad. I didn’t, and I regret it.
How have you changed since graduation?
I’m much more open-minded. And I’ve stopped wearing pearls with turtlenecks.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
It was between BC and Holy Cross. I grew up in a small town and wanted to try a bigger school. Also, my boyfriend went to Holy Cross, and we broke up. Two really good reasons.
What is the secret to success?
For an aspiring actor, I would have to say practice, practice, practice. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours I spent improvising and doing shows for free. Looking back, I feel so sorry for the people who had to watch those shows.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
O’Connell House, where we did our Fleabag shows.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
I would make community service a requirement at BC.
What was your first job?
I worked at a salad bar in a grocery store.
Where did you live freshman year?
Cheverus. It was an all-girls dorm back then, which I did not request.
How do you relax?
What was your favorite BC class?
Strangely enough, economics. I was in CSOM, but I definitely did not have a “math brain.” Economics was the one class that I truly understood and loved.
What do you look forward to each day?
Dropping my kids off at school and then picking them up again.
What was your favorite BC activity?
I loved going to hockey games.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
I’m very insecure when it comes to entertaining.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
All of it!
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Benicio Del Toro.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
I come from a family of six kids, so when I got to school and saw the unlimited bacon it was like heaven.