'The 40-Year-Old Virgin', 10 Years Later: Celebrate All the Careers It Helped Launch

The film was a smash success and helped more than a few cast members become legitimate comedy stars

Photo: Everett Collection

Ten years ago this week, Steve Carell starred in a little movie about a guy trying to find a way to lose something. And for this we are thankful. Let’s turn the “Way Back Wednesday” machine to Aug. 19, 2005.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin proved to be a smash success, raking in $177.4 million to date. And it certified Carell’s status as a bankable star; he was no longer just “that guy from The Office“. The film also made director Judd Apatow a household name, and it helped him become one of the top comedy directors working in Hollywood today.

However, The 40-Year-Old Virgin didn’t succeed based on the efforts of Carell and Apatow alone. The movie starred a long list of comedic actors, and in many cases, it propelled them toward bigger and better things themselves. Here, then, is our salute to the film’s cast and what these folks have done in the last decade.

And yes, most of the clips contain NSFW language. It was a sex comedy, after all.

1. Steve Carell

Bonus points for the fact that the waxing and Carell’s magnificent chest-pelt were both completely real. Carell had one season of The Office under his belt when Virgin hit theaters. He’d go on to star in hit films such as Little Miss Sunshine, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Foxcatcher, for which he scored an Oscar nom.

2. Catherine Keener

Keener, who played Andy’s love interest, may have had the hardest role in the film: She had to make her feelings seem believable in a film that hinged on a silly premise. Keener is a pro, however, and especially in this scene, it doesn’t seem weird that she’s into an immature guy like Andy. Keener has continued to split her talents between comedy and drama, starring in Hamlet 2, Where the Wild Things Are and Captain Phillips.

3. Paul Rudd

There was a time when people thought of Rudd as more of a rom-com guy, but roles in Virgin and Wet Hot American Summer helped the world see his potential as a full-on comedy guy. Ever since, Rudd has become an Apatow favorite, starring in Knocked Up and This Is 40 and a host of other films that remind us just what a precious comedic jewel he is.

4. Seth Rogen

Rogen joined the Apatow crew back in the Freaks and Geeks days, and Virgin was only his third major film. He has subsequently gone on to lead an extensive comedic film career – Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is the End, among many others – as well as the occasional action caper. (Remember The Green Hornet?)

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5. Romany Malco

Playing yet another of Andy’s posse giving him terrible advice about how to lose his virginity, Malco would go on to score roles in Blades of Glory, Baby Mama, both Think like a Man movies, and this year’s awesome The Duff.

6. Jane Lynch

Tall, crass and ferocious, Jane Lynch’s Virgin character kind of works as a forerunner to Glee‘s Sue Sylvester. Heck, she even got to show off that she has a good singing voice. Lynch already had Best in Show when Virgin came out, and she’s racked up countless movie and TV roles playing similarly sharp-tongued characters ever since.

7. Elizabeth Banks

Playing Beth, a bookstore clerk who was maybe a little too sexually advanced for Andy, Banks launched a solid movie career that has her playing a wide variety of roles – Spider-Man, The Hunger Games and even W, in which she played Laura Bush – in addition to ones where she gets to show off her comedic chops – Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Pitch Perfect, and Our Idiot Brother.

8. Leslie Mann

You have to love the Hollywood marriage where the director husband can ask the actress wife to play a total nightmare trainwreck. Mann not only said yes but played the role with zeal, “Franch toast” and all. Mann would work with her husband again in Knocked Up and This Is 40 and would also star in The Other Woman and Vacation.

9. Kat Dennings

The 40-Year-Old Virgin was Dennings’ first major film role, and it helped give her a rep for playing sarcastic girls who are just too cool for whatever is happening around them. Post-Virgin, Dennings starred in The House Bunny, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, both Thor movies and the television series 2 Broke Girls. The counselor in this scene is played by Nancy Walls Carell, Carell’s real-life wife, whose stints on Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show proved she’s a comedic talent in her own right.

10. Jonah Hill

Hill had only played a small role in I (Heart) Huckabees before Virgin. While still a small part, it helped Hill break through to bigger comedic roles in Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the 21 Jump Street movies, as well as more dramatic work in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street.

12. Mindy Kaling

Kaling hadn’t yet emerged as a breakout star on The Office in 2005, and Virgin helped audiences realize her comedic potential onscreen. Thanks in part to Virgin, Kaling would go on to perform in No Strings Attached, The Five-Year Engagement, Wreck-It Ralph and Inside Out, in addition to starring in her own sitcom, The Mindy Project. This clip also features Parks and Recreation vet Mo Collins as Gina (not “Geena”), and if anyone wants to give Collins her own sitcom, this writer would watch enthusiastically.

13. Kevin Hart

Fans might not realize that Hart is also a member of the extended Apatow family. Before he starred in Scary Movie 3 and before he played the world’s most difficult customer in Virgin, Hart had a three-episode arc on Apatow’s sitcom Undeclared. His monster comedy career followed, only reaching national levels of fame in the later 2000s. Hart has since starred in the Ride Along movies, both Think like a Man movies, and This Is the End alongside a substantial number of other Apatow alums.

Of course, one of the best parts about The 40-Year-Old Virgin is that it ends with a musical number that incorporates the entire cast – even the waxing lady.

More movies should reunite the entire cast to sing a song. Just putting that out there. Hollywood, make it happen.

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