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Steve Carrell’s The-40-Year-Old Virgin is considered by many to be one of the actor’s greatest works. Although the film contains many hilarious moments, there’s one scene in particular that was inspired by a real-life date Carrell had in his youth.

Steve Carrell pitched the idea of ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ to Judd Apatow

Steve Carrell at the season 1 premiere of 'The Patient.'
Steve Carrell | Araya Doheny/FilmMagic

Carrell was originally the brains behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin. He already had a scene in mind for the movie that became the genesis of the film, and pitched it to director Judd Apatow.

“It was a notion that I had that I brought to Judd last year. Essentially, the pitch was the poker scene–that sequence of a guy desperately trying to keep up with these other guys who are telling these great sex stories, and it quickly becomes apparent that he’s out of his element. And that was what I pitched to him,” Carrell once explained in an interview with Radio Free.

Carrell asserted that the film was in no way autobiographical, but he was still able to identify with his character in some way.

“I identify with him in the sense that he’s trying. He’s doing his best to get through life and keep a good aspect and disposition going–keep his hopes up. But I think there’s an underlying sadness to the character, which, in fact, there is to me as well. I think there’s the parallel,” Carrell explained.

Steve Carrell was inspired by a real-life date for a scene in ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’

Carrell identified with the character in more ways than one. Although he didn’t relate to his character’s main concern, The Office alum used an incident from his past for a scene in the movie.

“The whole scene in which I ask the questions in the bookstore, that was directly lifted from advice that my father gave me,” Carrell once said in an interview with BBC. “On one of my first dates ever I was petrified of talking to this girl, and he suggested that I just ask questions and put all of the impetus on her to talk.”

The advice Carrell received from his father was more than helpful. Years later, he’d include a similar scenario in the Apatow project.

“It turned out to be great advice. It kind of relieves the tension, so I incorporated that. In terms of the movie that’s probably the one decent piece of advice you could use,” he said.

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Apart from being what many consider a fantastic comedy film, the movie opened up discussion about virginity among middle-aged men. The very concept of this subject, Carrell informed, confused those who Carrell pitched the project to. The Patient star realized that a 40-year-old male virgin was an idea some found hard to wrap their heads around.

“It’s so funny because when we were pitching the movie the people we met just assumed the 40-Year-Old Virgin was a woman. It was a bit of a leap for them. Talking to me they asked who was playing the virgin, and when I said that I was, you saw the gears in their head move, trying to get on to the same page,” Carrell recalled.