Here’s why the fourth member of the Spotlight team has been pretty quiet

Matt Carroll was the team’s “data geek,’’ but he’s been mostly missing from the new film’s marketing efforts.

Former Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll (left) is played by a mustachioed Brian d’Arcy James. —Spotlight

In Spotlight, the new film about The Boston Globe’s team of reporters who investigated the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal in the early 2000s, three of the four central Globe reporters are portrayed by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Michael Rezendes is played by Mark Ruffalo, Sacha Pfeiffer by Rachel McAdams, and Walter Robinson by Michael Keaton.

And then there’s Matt Carroll, the self-described “data geek’’ of the original four-person Spotlight team that would win the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. He is played by actor Brian d’Arcy James, who has starred on Broadway and on TV but doesn’t have too many Hollywood credits to his name.


Not that Carroll minds.

“I just wanted someone who was better looking than me, which frankly is not all that difficult,’’ Carroll said. “He looks great. I keep telling people he does me better than I do me.’’

With Spotlight set to debut around the country Friday, Rezendes, Pfeiffer, and Robinson have been making the media circuit to talk about the true story behind the film. Each of the three reporters wrote an essay for the Globe about what it was like to be played by a famous star.

Carroll, who left the Globe last year and now works for the MIT Media Lab, did not write his own piece.

“I have a job,’’ he joked. “Marketing is part of their job, basically, whereas the [MIT] Media Lab really doesn’t care if I market this movie or not.’’

Similarly, Spotlight promotions have focused more on the major Hollywood names in the film than on James.

Brian d’Arcy James isn’t one of the marquee names on Spotlight’s promotional posters. —Spotlight

The actor made his name on Broadway, and has been nominated for three Tony Awards, most recently for Best Actor in a Musical in Something Rotten!. Before that, James received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Shrek in Shrek the Musical in 2009.

Though that wasn’t good enough for a name-check on the Spotlightmovie poster, it did excite Carroll’s kids.


“They grew up with Shrek, so for them it was like, ‘That’s pretty cool!’’’ Carroll said. “They were pretty impressed.’’

Aside from one compelling scene, Carroll’s role in the film isn’t that glamorous. Like in real life, Carroll’s character creates a spreadsheet of the dozens of pastors suspected of sexual abuse, and he and the team go about filling in those data cells with victims’ stories.

“It’s been really interesting reading tweets because a lot of people are like, ‘Oh! A data scene! This is so awesome!’’’ Carroll said. “They actually made making a spreadsheet, which is unbelievably dull and boring, made it look like a sexy thing.’’

Carroll was especially fond of the little tidbits of his life that James picked up while researching the part.

Like how in the movie James wears his glasses on a string around his neck. Just like Carroll.

Or how James has a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on his desk throughout the film. Just like Carroll.

“I said, ‘Look, I just drink heroic amounts of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts,’’’ Carroll said. “So he just got a real laugh out of that and made sure he always had a cup.’’

Carroll saw an early version of the film a few months ago and said he was “blown away’’ by it.

“I watched it, and I walked out of there and my head was spinning. It was like, this was so strange to see myself, my colleagues on the screen,’’ he said. “It was an incredibly surreal experience.’’


Video: Meet the cast behind Spotlight

Meet the cast behind “Spotlight’’

The cast behind “Spotlight’’ talks about making the film

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