By Hillary Busis
Updated February 22, 2011 at 10:56 PM EST

Image Credit: Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic.comSteve Carell must feel like the prettiest girl at the ball right now, because his dance card is filling up faster than Scarlett O’Hara’s. Mandate Pictures just announced that the actor will star in Dogs of Babel, an adaptation of Carolyn Parkhurst’s novel The Dogs of Babel. Carell will play Paul Iverson, a grief-stricken linguistics professor who tries to teach his dog to talk after his wife’s sudden death. A few days ago, EW confirmed Deadline‘s report that Carell is also in talks to star opposite Meryl Streep in Great Hope Springs, a movie about a troubled couple that turns to a therapist in an attempt to save their marriage. Carell would play the shrink, while Streep will play his female client; James Galdolfini is rumored to be playing her husband.

Those are just the latest additions to a long list of projects that will premiere after Carell exits The Office in May. He’s already finished shooting the infuriatingly punctuated Crazy, Stupid, Love. with Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Kevin Bacon. Additionally, Carell is attached to Burt Wonderstone, a comedy about a Las Vegas magician mourning for his dead partner (Freaks and Geeks fans: The movie was co-written by Sam Weir!), and The Abstinence Teacher, an adaptation of Tom Perotta’s bestseller. Sandra Bullock will also co-star in the latter movie.

Generally speaking, these films have high pedigrees, casts studded with acting powerhouses, and unique premises. With the exception of Burt Wonderstone, they also all sound fairly serious in tone — and even the magician movie seems pretty dark. That means Carell is making a lot of unexpected choices, since he’s much better known as a comedian than as a straight actor; among the movies he’s made already, flicks like Anchorman and The 40 Year Old Virgin have raked in a lot more at the box office than films like Dan in Real Life or even Little Miss Sunshine.

Even so, I’m not worried. Anyone who’s been watching The Office from the beginning knows that Carell has an incredibly wide range — over the past seven years, he’s believably played Michael Scott as everything from an overgrown man-child to a brilliant business tactician. (And yet somehow, the man still doesn’t have an Emmy!) I can’t wait to watch Carell stretch himself onscreen. This diverse group of projects will give him the chance to show Hollywood what he can do — and they’ll also prevent him from being labeled “Michael Scott” for the rest of his career.

Are you excited by Steve Carell’s upcoming movies? Or do you think you’ll miss the Steve Carell who, once upon a time, played Brick Tamland and got into screaming matches with Stephen Colbert?

Episode Recaps

Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)

The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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