LAS VEGAS - For Steve Carell, dedication to a comedic role can be skin-deep. A bright orange skin-deep to be exact.

Playing a flamboyant Vegas magician in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (opening Friday) required the 50-year-old actor to undergo regular spray-tanning sessions, and he took them very seriously.

"Sometimes I had it done daily, depending on if it faded," Carell says, adding a dignified pause. "I would have it applied while wearing a small bikini."

It was only during his final days of filming that Carell realized he didn't need the full bikini monte of spray tans, since his clothes never came off in front of the cameras.

"There were gallons - gallons - of this tanning fluid applied to me that just didn't need to be. It could have gone to better use."

But as director Don Scardino sees it, it's worth the spray-tan budget to bring Carell back to broad comedy.

"If that's the price for getting a wilder character, that's fine," says Scardino.

Since leaving The Office in 2011 after seven seasons, Carell has been playing the emotional spectrum of movie roles, ranging from the romantic lead in Crazy Stupid Loveto straight man in Hope Springs to the dramatic lead in the sci-fi tale Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. But Wonderstone has Carell back engaging in The 40-Year-Old Virgin-style zaniness with a cast that includes Steve Buscemi as his sidekick and Jim Carrey as a rival muscling in on the magician's crumbling empire.

"I thought it would be fun to mix it up," says Carell. "This is a very silly world here."

Besides the orange look, Carell shows off a number of out-there hairstyles as his character moves through various eras of Vegas entertainment, from the mullet to a lion's mane to a more moderate wig for everyday life. Carell's ego-maniacal character even resorts to face decoration: "There's some eye-liner going on.''

But the ultimate step might have been telling Scardino, who wanted Wonderstone to have a Vegas Elvis paunch, that it would be more effective to have him be lean - and proud to show it off with plunging necklines and gold chains.

"I thought this guy was this preening tanned peacock," says Carell. "And he should look like it. You know how they say sometimes the city is a character in a movie? Well that's my chest here."