The Crazy, Stupid Love. co-directors talk about working with Steve Carell and keeping a story emotional.

In the engaging rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love. Steve Carell plays a cuckolded man who stages marital protest by throwing himself from a moving car driven by his wife. “The writer [Dan Fogelman] had a friend who jumped out of a car,” co-director Glenn Ficarra reveals. “In the movie Steve was relatively unhurt, but that was the genesis for Steve’s character.”

Ficarra and his filmmaking pal of a quarter-century John Requa previously directed the Sundance 2009 entry I Love You Phillip Morris and had been looking for a follow-up. Warner Bros sent them the script after Carell recommended the duo. Ficarra remembers being impressed by what he read. “It was an excellent script. I rarely read a script in one sitting.”

There’s no shortage of mutual appreciation between the filmmakers and their lead man. “[Carell] is a comedic straight man,” Ficarra says, “who plays it very close to the vest and is almost always the funniest person in the scene.” The top-notch cast includes in-demand Ryan Gosling as the silky-smooth bachelor who coaches Carell in the ways of women in the ensuing separation from his wife, played by Julianne Moore. There’s also great work from Emma Stone and an uproarious turn by Marisa Tomei.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. isn’t just a hit - it grossed close to $150m worldwide - it is a clever, nuanced story that does a fine job of balancing laughter with tears. “Finding that line and doing that tightrope walk is what excites us and brought us to the project,” Requa says. “A lot of other directors might have lowered the bandwidth and made it less emotional.”

Speaking of directors [plural], how do Ficarra and Requa work together? “The real question,” Requa says with a sigh, “is how does one person direct a movie? Its such a big job, I don’t know how they do it.”

Coming soon for the longtime collaborators – the Reese Witherspoon vehicle Pharm Girl.