Comedians Tina Fey and Steve Carell are two of primetime TV's most popular stars—Tina's loved for her role as Liz Lemon, the head writer for a late-night sketch comedy show, on 30 Rock and Steve plays bumbling Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott on The Office. Though they both got their start in Chicago's Second City comedy troupe, they'd never actually worked together until the pair filmed their latest romantic comedy together. Date Night is about a married couple who decide to go on a romantic evening to add some romance to their monotonous marriage. But when they take someone else's dinner reservation, their evening gets more of a spark than they can handle.
Steve and Tina say they loved working together. "She is a national treasure," Steve says of Tina. "She's somebody I wanted to work with, and I'm a big fan, and you know [my] expectations were not only fulfilled, but she want beyond any expectations. She's fantastic."
Tina says Steve's a comic inspiration. "He is a comic genius because he is one of the greatest improvisers in the world," she says. "The kind of detail and specificity that he brings to his character Michael Scott of The Office—he does stuff that is so painful and embarrassing that you can't help but laugh at it, and it's that he will sink into an awkward and uncomfortable moment so deeply and commit to it so hard. But he also is kind of always playing his character. He's not trying to act crazy. He's just playing his character. His sad, sad, little character."
Since Tina and Steve both have backgrounds in improv, they say they ad-libbed a lot for Date Night. "We always shot the scene as scripted because they are really good scripts. And then Shawn Levy, our director, would say 'Okay, now anybody want to try anything?' And I feel like in almost every scene there's a little something," Tina says. "Like for example, Steve licking a stripper pole and then immediately getting nauseous. Improvised."
"My parents are going to be so proud of me," Steve says.
Aside from starring in 30 Rock, Tina is also the head writer and producer of the hit show. This month, she's also a two-issue cover girl—her picture is on the covers of Esquire and Vogue. Tina says she had a great time with the magazine shoots. "Anything like that I go into, I don't feel any pressure because they know they didn't hire a model, so I'm just here to have fun," she says. "The dirty photo shoot [for Esquire] was a little easier for me. I don't know why. I'm more comfortable."
Tina has become known as "the thinking man's sex symbol," but she says she's not totally sold on the title. "I've heard that, and I sort of feel like that's not really a thing, because I feel like even the thinking man wants Megan Fox and Jessica Simpson. Like, the thinking man's like: 'Yeah, get out of here. I see Jessica Simpson."
"I think she's a sex symbol of the idiot and the thinking man, frankly," Steve says.
Though Steve is revered for his performance on The Office each week, he says he doesn't feel pressure to live up to the hype. "If you ever invited me to a cocktail party, I would so go against [the image people have of me]," he says.
"He's very quiet in real life," Tina says.
"Well, that's another way of saying pretty boring, I think, to meet me," Steve says. "I never really thought of myself as funny, per se. ... I don't sit and watch myself and say, 'Damn, that is hilarious.'"
The people Steve does find funny are Steve Martin, John Cleese and Peter Sellers, he says. "Those are people that I emulate and respect."
Tina and Steve both say making a movie is different from making a TV show because you don't get to know the cast as well. "That's why it was so lucky that we kind of got along so well from the beginning, because you go to make a movie, it's a stranger, sometimes you spend the first three weeks figuring the other person out, and we kind of fell into a nice rhythm right away," Tina says.
Working with a great supporting cast also helped the atmosphere on set, Tina says. "One of my favorite scenes is the scene with James Franco and Mila Kunis, who play this kind of dirt-baggy couple that we have been confused for," she says.
"They were great; they improvised a lot," Steve says. "A lot of those little exchanges resulted from the two of them bringing things in, and we were just responding."
For this appearance on The Oprah Show, Steve and Tina decided they didn't want to just answer questions—they wanted to ask some as well. "You are always the interviewer, you're never the interviewee," Tina tells Oprah. "If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, in the history of the world, ... what would you order?"
"I would probably you know, have Jesus over for fried chicken," Oprah says. "That would be great."
"What is going on with you and Jamie Foxx? Because I feel like he might be in love with you," Tina says.
"I like him. He likes me. We email, text. It's a really good friend thing. It really is," Oprah says.
Steve says his questions are less hard-hitting. "Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?"