The affable actor is back as the diabolical villain turned doting dad, Gru, in Despicable Me 3. So how does the real-life father of two manage his teenage minions, John and Elisabeth Anne? 

By Laura Morgan

“In the ’80s I wore my share of shoulder pads and parachute pants—though I deny it.”

Wishful Thinking

“You don’t want to dash your kids’ dreams, but at the same time you want to give them a dose of reality. My wife Nancy and I find that mitigating those two elements is always a little tough.”

Child’s Play

“When I was about 10, I dressed up like an alien for dinner to embarrass my brother, who’d brought a girlfriend over. I put on a motorcycle helmet with a flashing light on top. The strangest part of the story, really, is that no one at the table even acknowledged that anything was different.”

School Ties

“My backup plan was to be a teacher. I like the environment, and I had teachers who were so great to me. It’s one of those professions that I don’t think gets nearly enough credit.”

Wheel Time

“My daughter has her learner’s permit, and our one-on-one moments are when we go for a drive. We just talk, and it’s not me saying, ‘Turn left, turn right.’ It’s a sweet, sort of intimate low-key sharing time.”

My Favorite Things

  • As a family, we really loved Stranger Things. We don’t watch a ton of TV, but we heard that was a great series. I kind of had to be convinced, but once we got into it, we were hooked.”
  • “I like Lady Gaga. I like Bruno Mars and all the stuff the kids are listening to. It’s funny—I’ll torment my daughter Annie by asking questions about what’s on the radio but I actually know.
  • I just like to pretend that I don’t.”
  • “My kids still love Despicable Me. It’s a part of their childhood.”

Photos: (Carell) Maarten de Boer/Contributor/Getty, (Gru) Alamy.