“Burt Wonderstone can be a real jerk,” declares Steve Carell, who stars as half of the longstanding Vegas power duo known as The Incredible Burt and Anton, and was one of the film’s producers. “Burt and Anton met at an early age and bonded over magic. Since they’ve been performing together for years on the long rise to stardom, their act has always been billed as a magical friendship—which is a lovely idea, except that they can’t stand each other anymore.”
“Somewhere along the line,” Carell continues, “Burt forgot about the things that really mattered and let success and all its trappings go to his head. He took it all for granted and turned into a self-centered blowhard, and now he and his inflated ego are due for a comeuppance.”
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is the story of that comeuppance.
For all that Burt represents and all that he has achieved in a decade of exhibition, both on and off the stage, director Don Scardino sees him primarily as “a peacock. He’s kind of foolish and full of himself, in love with his own reflection. If someone said to him, ‘I can’t tell you how great you are,’ he’d say, ‘Oh, please try.’ But Steve plays the part so endearingly and is so likeable that, despite this guy’s massive ego, you could still fall for Burt Wonderstone. You still like him and find yourself rooting for him to get back in touch with the decent person you know he used to be.”
Producer Chris Bender acknowledges it’s a fine line to tread, but, “When Steve came aboard it was a real ‘ah-hah’ moment for us and a turning point for the project, because we knew we’d found the right actor to embrace those contradictions and strike that balance beautifully.”
Beneath the veneer and the superstar lifestyle Burt flaunts, not to mention the women recruited nightly from his audiences and dismissed in the morning with an autographed photo as a parting gift, Carell points out, “His life is empty. In some ways he’s still that awkward nerd he was at 12, who had no friends until Anton came along, but he’s conveniently forgotten that. He thinks he doesn’t need Anton anymore, that he’s way past that.”
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” re-teams “Bruce Almighty” antagonists Steve Carell and Jim Carrey as rival magicians fighting for the spotlight, and marks Carell’s third screen collaboration with Alan Arkin—cast as Rance Holloway, once a famous magician whose act inspired the young Burt, and now an irascible retiree who wants nothing to do with the business. It also showcases comic turns from Steve Buscemi and James Gandolfini, and taps Olivia Wilde’s talent for physical comedy in a way that audiences have never seen her before.
Opening across the Philippines on March 20, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is a New Line Cinema presentation and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.