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Steve Carell Is Despicable Me

Steve Carell, who last voiced The Mayor of Whooville for Fox's DR. SEUSS' HORTON HEARS A WHO!, will voice the title character in Universal's upcoming 3-D CG-animated feature DESPICABLE ME.

The film is the first for the Universal-based Illumination Ent., a family film unit under Chris Meledandri.

Other lead voices for the film, set for a 2010 release, include Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride (TROPIC THUNDER), Russell Brand (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL), Jemaine Clement (FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS), Jack McBrayer (30 ROCK) and Julie Andrews.

"Everybody has a wicked side, whether they are 6 or 60, and yet so often storytelling draws a sharp line between good and evil," Meledandri said. "After years of taking my sons to the movies and having them leave the theatre with the villain as their favorite character, we decided to make a movie where the villain is the protagonist."

Per VARIETY, Carell's character is a man known as Groo, who is goaded by his evil mother (Andrews) into a plot to steal the moon. Groo finds himself required to care for three orphan girls, blocking him from his nefarious plan.

Carell teamed on HORTON with Meledandri, who was then head of Fox Animation. The new project also brings back HORTON writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who penned DESPICABLE ME.

Meledandri is producing with Janet Healy and John Cohen. Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin will direct; the idea for the story came from co-director Sergio Pablos.

Universal is fully financing the film.

Meledandri formed Illumination late last year with Universal heads Marc Shmuger and David Linde. The idea at the time was for Universal to co-finance the films. However, the plan now is for Universal to be the sole financier, at least for now, on DESPICABLE, and Meledandri's next films. He is set to generate two live-action or animated family films each year beginning in 2010.

"At such a point in time when financial markets pass through the acute phase they're in now, we will revisit the idea of bringing in partnership funding," Meledandri told VARIETY.

He has another film in the works with writers Paul and Daurio, projects with SON OF RAMBOW team Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith and with THE SIMPSONS writer-producers Josh Lieb, Mike Reiss and Matt Selman.