Steve Carell Was "Deeply Moved" by Real-Life Inspiration for 'Welcome to Marwen'

"He took something so ugly and turned it into something beautiful," the actor said of Mark Hogencamp, the man upon whom the film is based.

Steve Carell’s latest film, Welcome to Marwen, tells the true story of Mark Hogencamp, who, after being brutally attacked and losing all memory of his adult life, created an elaborate WWII village called Marwen and developed an imaginary world around the dolls populating it.

Carell explained to The Hollywood Reporter In Studio that he got involved in the unique project after seeing the Jeff Malmberg documentary Marwencol, based on Hogancamp’s world and the photographs he takes of his figures. 

“I loved it, and it got inside my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I wondered whether it could be turned into a feature film,” he said of the documentary. “I found out Robert Zemeckis had the rights so out of curiosity, I called him, got together and he explained what his vision for the movie was, which was to take the fantasy of this art installation that Mark Hogancamp had created and essentially bring it to life, and I thought that’s the way in.”

Carell met Hogancamp prior to shooting Marwen and told THR, “He’s the sweetest guy. He’s exactly who you would him to be. He’s earnest and self-deprecating, but he also has an understanding of how other people view him and his world, and he has a sense of humor about it. He gets that it’s quirky.”

The actor, who plays Hogancamp in the film, said the character deeply “moved” him.

“His story is all about love and hatred and acceptance and perseverance and will,” he explained. “There’s just a real joy to his story and after I saw the documentary, it made me feel uplifted and good, and I just wanted to hold it because the whole thing felt like a beacon of light to me, and that’s why I wanted to be a part of this because [of] his story and how he took something so ugly, this terrible hate crime, and turned it into something beautiful.”

Watch the video above to hear Carell discuss what it was like seeing a miniature version of himself, working with director Zemeckis and more.