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Jim Carrey | Merriment and Mirth
an emily blunt interview
[
This interview's pretty long, look for PART TWO at the bottom for the "real" Carrey Fans...]

 

 

There are plenty of funny people in the world; your neighbor, the quirky doctor that cleans your teeth. But then there are those special funny folks that come along once in a lifetime…like Mr. Jim Carrey. Personally I find him so funny he merely needs bend a facial muscle to send me into hysterics. He also happens to be an exceptionally handsome slab of man steak! A studly landscape of the finest sort. Standing at about six foot two, he's one summit I'd love to explore…

Carrey started, like most comics, playing the stand-up circuit, getting bit parts in small films, and watching his star flutter aimlessly in a universe of talent. That all changed when the television show "In Living Color" shot the man into the fore front of comedic up-and-comers.

His Vera DeMilo in a parody of "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" still causes me to burst into maniacal laughter whenever it pops into my mind—- even at the most inappropriate times; like during a dull, yet important, job interview.

He went on to make the hiiiillarious Ace Ventura: Pet Detective which, thankfully, catapulted the dear man to his rightful place among comedic stars. Then on he went to create some more of the funniest films in history (I.E.: Dumb and Dumber, Me Myself and Irene, The Mask, Liar Liar, The Cable Guy) , a few dramatic soirees ( loved Truman, & The Majestic & he was diabolically good in Man on the Moon) , and he even became responsible for several pop culture expressions, none more prolific (& eventually grating) than his tag-line of, "Alrighty then!" It's hard to pick a favorite soiree of glee - but, for me it may be The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Listen close to the dialog - hysterical!

Yeah, I'm a huge fan. Il celui est des hommes les plus doués vivants!

Along his journey he partnered up with Tom Shadyac, a director that knows how to super-size Jim's…er…unique talents. The two have paired up for several films and now they are back with Bruce Almighty in which Jim plays a guy pissed with God. He tells God he's had it with his continual smyth-ings upon his life. God decides to give Bruce the reigns on the universe for a while…hmm. Jim is the one guy who could make it work without "playing God" in a Charlton Heston snobby way.

I met the duo at a swanky hotel to chat about Bruce and faith…and now the world's longest interview with one of my comedy Gods:

[after hellos] EM: Do you prefer comedies?

JIM: I like being creative, basically. Period. I mean we had a blast. We always have a blast when we get together. Whether were doing a movie or we're locked in a cabin somewhere in Alaska stripping each are main mode of opperandi. We had a very strange game we played last time we were there, were he wasn't allowed to control, and I wasn't allowed to use the words "me" or "I" - we had nothing to say to each other!

TOM: I'm a director and he's an actor we suffered.

JIM: It was hilarious!

EM: Jim what do you think of this Dumb and Dumber sequel they've created?

JIM: I don't know I've never seen it. I have no idea what it's like. I wish them luck…I have a lot of people coming up to me thinking I'm in it. A little sin of omission there! I don't know if they're kind of misleading people in that way.

EM: Are you worried at all that people will attack Bruce Almighty as blasphemous?

JIM: I think I am going to be welcomed anywhere! [hearty laughter]. I think I will share the host with many! [Laughter]

EM: Was it important after Majestic's drama to go back to your comedic roots?

JIM: I think it's important to never look a gift horse in the mouth and never to over look your talents; what you're good at. I really don't consider that. Tom comes and says, "I have this concept for a film." And I say, "that sounds like a blast and we get to sit in a room together with Steve Oederkerk and hash out it out like we did with Aceand Liar, Liar and it sounded like a great creative challenge to me- it doesn't matter if it's dramatic or comedic to me. Everybody has thoughts creatively. I have been lucky enough to do many different things creatively. But is great to kind of …we all kind of face how we define ourselves. Maybe other people will try to limit me but I don't limit myself. I think this is more about - this movie - about somebody being grateful for what they have. You know? Like the guy who sits in front of a banquet table and says, " No Grapes! I can't eat this without the grapes!" Or whatever it is. It's about appreciating what you have as well as exploring.

EM: What percentage - if any - of the script was "improv'd?"

JIM: 99% was just right off the top of my head [laughter] No!

TOM: People often think that because Jim is so creative and has this genius about him - see how I suck up by the way [laughter]. No, we don't just put him in a room with another actor and say "Improv." This is very well thought out. Jim and I we go through every scenario- it is not unusual for us along with Steve to take a whole day to write one joke!

TOM: Then based on that structure and thoughfullnessedest [Laughter]

JIM: Thoughted thunking thought. Thinkingness. [Laughter] You have to know what your thinking going in and then hopefully you think of 50 other ideas as your doing it. It has always been a combination.

EM: So Jim, are you at a point in your life or career were you can look at legendary comedians do you allow yourself to see yourself as part of the lineage?

JIM: I'm not from your world! No...To be included in a lineage like that…but ya know honestly I've always been the guy, honest ta God, that my career has been a sort of weird low flying under the radar kind of place. I never made it on "Saturday Night Live" when all my friends did, I was at The Comedy Store getting a standing ovations every night but I couldn't find my picture anywhere. This is how it's always been for me. And I have had incredible blessings- unbelievable fortitude. At the same time there's always a balancing factor to my life. Basically what it is - if you look at a book on comedians I'm not in it! That's okay because I think once that happens you're completely in line and it's all over [laughter]. You know? You're doing the same thing, and they put you on the shelf that suits you. If I stay kind of obscure.

EM: Obscure??

JIM: Well, [laughter] obscure is the wrong word - but I have been obscure is what I meant.

TOM: I think Jim is arguably the most unique comic working in film today - kind of the Buster Keaton of our generation that whole "some lights are so bright you can't see them till hindsight."

EM: Absolutely. I agree.

TOM: I don't want to suck up anymore because I have to work with you again sometime in the future.

JIM: The turkey's ready [Laughter] I don't know - you do the best work that you can - I always love what I do. I don't know what happens with that kind of stuff; who gets their picture on the wall, who gets the trophy. It's not a consideration for me. Pantheons are for other people…maybe.

EM: What was it like working with Jennifer Anniston in Bruce and did Brad Pitt ever show up on the set?

JIM: He was constantly harassing me! [laughter] " Did you kiss her? Did you kiss her?" [Laughter] He came around once or twice - really a great guy. They're a nice couple. Really sweet. We worked well off each other. She's completely different than me. I'm a guy that goes out and completely throws myself out there… wild stuff. And she's like the center of the wheel as I'm doing this [he spins his hand in a frantic circle] all around her. She's the kind of person that can sit there and allow things to come to her. I seek them out and destroy them. She deserves everything she's got. You look at all those magazine you see her in and you say, "Why are people so interested into his person?" They just never seem to get enough. Then after meeting her you go, there's a reason this is a very cool centered person. A lot of times when you meet people like that you're disappointed at the reality of them. The "Idea" is always better, or that they are "playing" an idea. - She's real and being herself.

TOM: And Brad isn't really that good-looking in real person [laughter]. We were both very under-whelmed.

JIM: Yeah, the double chins. [Laughter]

EM: [wrap this man up...I'll take him] Jim, you seem totally un-embarrassed to put your heart on your sleeve and let the world see it. Can you talk about your values as a comic, as an actor?

JIM: You know, the wonderful thing about this movie in particular is it has, and we kind of did that with Liar Liar too, which is it had a very serious notion underneath it. It was comedic in that way we have and it allowed me to go incredibly crazy. It allowed me to go off the deep end. But at the same time there was real solid ideas and the question of, all of us get to a certain point, the idea that all of us get to a certain point where we're screaming at God in our own way and saying "Why? Why? Why are you doing this to me?" It's always us and we always get to a point, hopefully, where we say "Oh, Ok, that's what I had to learn." Ok? But it's sometimes its a long time coming. So, it was a nice chance to say that. It was a nice chance to say that. And a nice chance to just, you know… my values are kind of like Tom's values. We are spiritual in a sense. He's more religious than I am. I don't know. He's much into the documentation of it all. I read it and it goes out my head. Can I think of it later and think I thought of it. We are very kind of spiritual people and I've always big about faith. I've always had a major thing about faith. Everything in my life has happened for a reason, a good reason. Generally when I'm on the beam man, it's like the blessings just come one after another, like rain. It's unbelievable. When I'm in the right place.

EM: Jim do you have a "faith?"

JIM: I believe in Zucchini's. [Laughter] I've gone multi-denominational. I've studied a lot of different things and basically I don't know what God is but I know that He's at least an energy that rules all that walks the earth and I really think there are laws. There are laws and maybe they're within ourselves. I don't know what it is, but I call that God too, so you know, I believe that this, here we go, here we go [Laughs] The secrets to Life! The secret to Life.

TOM: Welcome to one of our retreats. [Laughter]

JIM: Yeah, exactly. My interpretation of the secret to life is, don't do anything or try not to do anything that makes you feel like you deserve to lose in life. And be grateful for what you have. A lot of that is in this movie. Be grateful. And protect what you've got that's beautiful too. You know, if you've got a talent, protect it. Protect the spark.

TOM: Actually that's interesting... I never thought about this, you know, in forethought, but the movie really is kind of a walk. It's kind of a window into who you and I are, because we're…

JIM: Lovely souls. Lovely. Lovely.[Grinch impersonation - I could die!]

TOM: Comedy is our roots so obviously when we get together we laugh a lot, Jim, Steve and myself. We laugh a lot! But we're also on this journey. This quest. And I think you see the walk in the movie.

EM: Gentlemen I did want to compliment you both…

JIM: First of all, the gentlemen thing is completely off. [Laughter] Totally wrong.

EM: Fair enough then. You dirty bastards!

JIM: Ok, thank you [Laughter]

EM: I wanted to compliment you both on one of the longest sustained laughs I've heard in a movie in a long time. Steve Carrell is a fave - from The Daily Show.

JIM: Oh good. [not sarcastic]

EM: A very pleasant surprise. It was also cool and speaks volumes of your integrity that you, Mr. Carrey, were NOT the focus of that scene.

JIM: It was a co-op, yeah. It was a co-op. Those types of things are you know, you throw it against the wall and those things happen, luckily. But I know the moment you're talking about was Steve Carell who is hilarious and so good in the film, in every moment of the film and I love funny people, man, you know? So put me with someone funny and I'll have a great time. I don't care who gets the laugh, and I don't care who gives me the joke. If the gaffer gives us a joke, it's great. Do you know what I mean? It's fantastic. It just makes it funny. And that's all I want. I want the people to leave the theatre having had a great old time, whether I got the laugh or someone else did. But he's so funny.

TOM: That scene was a surprise to me in editing, because we'd both been a part of set piece scenes where you don't want to be too long and you want it to be cut just right and the laugh just kept going. It kind of puts people into that happy place and it just keeps going, so we really milked it, but we took it as long as the laughs were coming, and they pretty much go from start to finish in that scene. They worked off of each other.

JIM: I don't laugh a lot either at my own stuff and stuff like that, but that scene made me laugh.

TOM: Yeah, that scene's funny.

JIM: I laugh at stupid things. I really do.

TOM: That's good example of something that's scripted in one line, you know, Bruce messes with, and these guys, two comedic minds really get together and Steve came up with stuff, and then he'd come up with stuff based on that and give and take and we had a good scene out of it.

JIM: I talked to a couple of people from the Buffalo News yesterday. It was hilarious, man. Yeah. Growing up I watched The Buffalo News. "It's 11 o'clock, do you know where your children are?" You know? It's just fantastic. I loved it. I loved being…. That's the great thing about doing movies, especially if it's like a co-op kind of thing. Everybody can pour their own lives into it. It's great. By the way, I'm coming apart. [Laughter adjusting his shirt] Oooh, I'd like to get naked for you now, if I could. [Laughter]

EM: [excuse me? NAKED??? What did I miss? What? Oh cruel man]
"Bruce" has this great scene where he recreates a moment from It's a Wonderful Life. What classic scene would you like to recreate in your own life?

JIM: In my own life? Mmm, that's an interesting one. Mmm. In my own life! I guess the chicken scene in Rebel Without a Cause. [Laughter] Definitely. Definitely. [Laughter]I just want a win at any cost. Send the others off the cliff. [Laughter]

EM: Hehehe. As God, Bruce obviously has the ultimate state of control over things; I'm wondering, in your day-to-day life, what are you a complete control freak about and if you could be God for a day, what would you do? [I know what I'd do little Mr., and it involves you, me and a long sabbatical in a luxury tiki hut with various flavored paints…]

JIM: I get upset about control about the littlest things. Huge things I let go of control. My career, it's like, whatever, whenever, you know, if it comes, it comes, if it doesn't it doesn't, I don't sweat it. It's little things like, you know, like the cap on the toothpaste or whatever. If that doesn't go my way man, look out! Do you know what I mean? It's like "ohhh, dammit!" That's when my angst comes out. The little stupid things. The stereo's not working whatever. Like that huge life things I'm completely cool about. I don't know if that answers your question? And you know what I would do if I had the power?

TOM: Shut me up!

JIM: No. [Laughter] Make you much more interesting. [Laughter with an eyebrow of malice erected].

TOM: Keep in mind I have final cut on the movie and it's not quite finished. Keep talking baby, keep talking. [Laughter]

JIM: I would first of all I'd send anybody who didn't like The Majestic to the fiery pit of hell. [Laughter] And then I'd start a new Utopian society. People made out of Nerf material so that I could cave the critics' heads in and then they would pop right back out. No one would be hurt and I'd get my rocks off. [Laughter] That is of course if there was anybody left. [Laughter] Ah, to start a new society.

EM: [laughter] Hmm, I'm safe! How much of a struggle is it to do something like Children of The Dust Bowl [his next film due in fall] ? I mean in the sense that when you walk in the door with that story do they say, "No, no you have to be funny"

JIM: You know, I've been surprised by how open it's been to the idea of me doing different types of material, in the business. I mean I'm sure a lot of times when the market place is considered, you know, I may not get paid as much to do something that I haven't proven that I'm the king on that genre or whatever that is or however people deal with that kind of stuff. But, you know, I get a lot of chances to do a lot of different things and it just depends on how you do it. How you produce it. How much money you put into and how much I get paid, but it's not a matter of people not believing that I can do it. They consider the market place. You know, will this draw an audience? It may not, it may. You know, The Truman Show did it, the Majestic didn't. So, you know, it just depends on the material. It really does.

EM: Why that one in particular, Children Of The Dust Bowl?

JIM: I think it's a beautiful story and I love stories about teachers. For some reason I can't get enough of those kind of stories. If I turn a movie on about a teacher, I love it. I love that idea of an adult influence on kids and also the idea that those children, the Okies at that time were considered un-teachable. And this man who considered his life kind of over, Leo Hart, and had decided, under his wife's instructions to rest, couldn't find it in his himself to do that. He saw a purpose. He saw the reason why you teach. You know? Laying right in front of him. He couldn't help himself. So he made these kids build their own school and it was a really special thing. Really gave them a sense of pride. I think if people built their own school they wouldn't graffiti it, you know what I mean?

EM: You two obviously have a shorthand, like a Chip and Dale thing going on, does that make it easier or harder to work together, because your just like "No, after you. No, after you" I mean can you be honest with each when you're on set?

JIM: Brutally.

TOM: Yes [Laughs]

JIM: Absolutely.

TOM: Yes. I think it makes it easier. You know it's a mutual respect and definitely a shorthand. I can just look at Jim, I can look at Jim while we're filming and go "We're doing another take, aren't we?" And mean I just look at him or I can tell when he's done. So…

JIM: Or when I come in with an idea in the morning. Everybody runs!!

TOM: Oh, I know in the morning, I know what the morning routine is. I know that what we have set up will not be what we do, because Jim will have an idea and so, again, I think we work really well together, because I'm not afraid of that action like that. I want to get the best out of this guy. A reporter said to me in that earlier interview "This movie couldn't have been made with another actor." To me, that's a compliment because everything is tailor made to his talents.

JIM: And also, we've had our moments too. We've had moments on other films and stuff, where we just kind of had screaming fits.

TOM: We're having one now.

EM: As a producer do you keep yourself in check a little more because you know you have to control the timeline?

TOM: With Jim Carrey the producer is much more approachable that Jim Carrey the actor. [Laughter] Jim Carrey the actor needs rest. Jim Carrey the producer likes to move things along. [Laughter]

JIM: Yeah, but also the idea that we might not get along from time to time, it also shows that we're honest with each. Most of the time it's absolute bliss and total fun and all that stuff but you can't have a friend without having some conflict. That's what is in the movie too. But you know, people say, "Well, are you worried about the idea of a character screaming at God?" and I don't think you can know God unless you are passionate about God, you know? And so you're either screaming at Him or you're enraptured with the idea of being around Him or feeling Him in your life, or something like that. Either one of those two ways you're going to have some kind of contact or something happen, otherwise I don't think He's interested in people who are half interested.

TOM: Yes. A relationship based on honesty and any relationship is going to have …

JIM: You got to scream.

TOM: Yes, you've got to have a moment, and so we've had ours.

JIM: Remind me, I need to kick the crap out of you. [Laughter]

EM: So what about the tale of rescuing Jennifer Anniston from death by tree? True?

TOM: Oh, we remember that day very well.

JIM: Well, she had flat-lined. [Laughter] And I, not knowing CPR of course was all tongue and Tom said "No!" [Laughter] "Blow air! Blow air! Not saliva!" [Laughter]

TOM: This is the type of thing he has to deal with. [Laughter] He has to deal with this all the time. I was amazed. The truth is when we had windy day; one of the trees blew over on the back lot at Universal. No one was hurt, no one was close to getting hurt, but the next day they printed…

JIM: Well, I did turn and go "Look out" [Laughter] That was right on man.

TOM: Yes, yes.

JIM: "Hey whoa, hey look out!" and, " That's good!"

TOM: An amazing step of courage. But somehow that turned into Jim saved everyone's life on the set and um, I support that story. Feel free to spread it over the world!

JIM: I've saved so many and yet that's what gets printed. [Laughter]

 

 



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