Speaking | Count Olaf aka Jim Carrey
aka Henry Von Schnickenhunkdimple
emily blunt interview
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS...Immediately!
Your Beloved, Count Olaf
Bluntly speaking? James
Carrey is a rare bit of talent. You hear a lot of brouhaha about comedians changing
their shtick and trying to go legit; from cream pies to dramalogues . I usually
concur, but it actually makes sense. It's a hard job making people laugh - and
only the truly funny - or talented - ones hold within that seed of versatility
(See: Eternal Sunshine should you dare to debate
An actor after all is a great pretender, and comics are the best "liars"
in the sandbox. The
king of the sandbox is Jim Carrey (er, and Robin Williams - but you get my drift).I
think he's one of the greatest talents walking - and that's not even biased...well,
I guess that's not fair to say, he is my Ganeesh...but I'm always brutally blunt.
neither here nor there in this case because Jim's the heavy-weight champion of
mayhem, back in the guffaw arena with his latest remarkable spin on film is as
one Count Olaf, the villain extraordinaire, in the most anticipated film of the
season, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
And this version of a villain is delightfully nasty and oozing sinister - he makes
Jim's Grinch seem a down right friendly sort.
film is a dark comedy (in the hue of black), and Carrey is firmly in his element.
His character Olaf (though he ultimately plays several in the film) is a grandiose
arse. To say Count Olaf is an über narcissistic hammy evil parlaying actor
with a terrible balding condition, is being....kind. Jim frolics about, relishing
in the absurd, and delivers a signature performance - it's wonderful. And Lemony
Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a unique masterpiece. A visual
cornucopia amidst a sea of surreal swirls, accented by one helluva ham.
Here's what we talked about:
So Jim, tell me was it tricky to play a truly obnoxious and bad actor like this
JIM: I'm insulted they picked me [laughs]. No actually it
was really fun because when he makes choices you don't have to do any research
whatsoever on. 'I'm an Irish pirate? Okay'. The thing about it is he's always
Olaf underneath it all. I love the idea that he thinks the children are so stupid
that they would never recognize him in a million years. That's kind of the gist
of this piece of material, it's that no one believes the kids and Olaf is trying
to work off of that but they immediately nail him every time! I think that's a
really cool thing that comes from the books. That feeling that kids are kind of
on their own.
Where do you draw your characters from?
It's wonderful to have good tools and I've been blessed with emotional tools that
I can draw on and physically as well. As Joel in Eternal Sunshine I was
trying to disappear the whole time but this guy [Count Olaf] wants to be seen
badly and basically everything is animated, his little finger is animated, it's
total self-consciousness. Then there's the total self-consciousness of an actor
losing his hair!
EMILY: Yeah, that's gotta be traumatic - and you made it dramatic for sure...Is
there a relative lurking in your family tree, yourself excluded, that as strange
as Count Olaf?
Well the weird thing is that Olaf turned out looking a lot like my dad!
Which is really frightening to me. I usually try to put a little Dad-ism in my
role so that's it kind of a wink to my family when they see a movie. They saw
the advanced pictures of this film and they went, 'Dude, now you're starting to
scare us' because it really is like my Dad. I thought of a slightly less human
inspiration for this role really, he was kind of a smart bird. This one was a
predatory bird rather, he was the kind of bird that waits for you to leave the
nest and then steals the eggs. Of course I have much experience with actors
and acting classes and how that can turn into Jesus and the disciples in moments.
I know a lot of acting teachers want that kind of relationship. You know, that
Guru kind of thing. Olaf is a bad leader. He's completely selfish. If he's being
nice to you it's only because you have something he wants. He's just a fun character
to play not to mention that it is the most dangerous character to play - an actor
who's losing his hair.
[Laughter] Hilarious! In the same kind of thought. What's it like to be "Jim's"
relative. I mean do you have honour of being court jester at functions?
[Laughter] I have the kookiest family. For years I was the entertainment. It was
almost a slavery situation. I'd get a knock in the middle of the night and my
parents would say 'Get your tap shoes on we have company'. I was always doing
shows. I was always the center and I got that from my father. When I was a little
kid I remember watching him captivate the room and be so animated and I thought
it was fantastic. I was trying to be like him.
That is very sweet actually. It takes hours for make up to create Olaf and characters
like the Grinch. Do you like the process of being transformed into these characters?
I don't like it at all. I like the results. The results are fantastic and I have
fantastic people working with me who are incredibly patient. They do brilliant
work and they put up with me when I lose my mind and have to run out of the trailer
screaming. I was pretty Zen on this one. After the Grinch, which was like CIA
training, that one brutalized me so much that everything afterwards was a cakewalk.
You could hit me with a brick right now, and I'd be like "Hi, love ya".
EMILY: Yeah The Grinch looked so uncomfortable- even your eyes were basically
covered. Ewewewaargh. So then what is that makes you accept the heavy-make-up
To me it's like a child - like fascination with " My gosh how different could
I look?" "What characters can come out of this at the end of it all?"
Because you really don't know when you start in. When I'm shaving my head I don't
know if I have a dodecahedron under there (Laughs). I have no idea what the shape
of my skull is under there. You take a chance. What I find is that when you go
full boar into it with faith. It always ends up surprising you. It's really kind
of a feeling of giving birth to something. You sit back and you take a look at
this guy and you think, "Wow this guy never existed at all and now he's there
in all his glory."
How was working with the children?
I was constantly messing with them off camera. I would sometimes even reach into
the frame when Liam had his close-up and manipulate his face. It was Olaf saying,
"No you're not expressive enough, it's all facial you see". I had a
lot of fun with them they're a blast. The babies were crazy they were tough. There
was like fourteen of them. They were actually just breeding them in the back somewhere
(laughs). Which I thought about when I was working with Emily and Liam, these
kids basically grew up on camera; I was like "Dig a trench, Liam's grown
What did you think of the look of the film?
Phenomenal! Kahn? What a talent that guy is. The whole thing looks so beautiful
and I have not seen the finished product yet. I never saw it color timed, all
I saw was from videotape at one point. I followed along and I saw a couple of
screenings but I never saw it timed but the artistic work in this movie is just
brilliant. Performances aside, to look at this movie is beautiful. It's just dark
and beautiful and gothic and it's really good artistic work. The sets were
360 degrees forced perspective so when you get into the middle of them and you
look around you go "Oh my God! Somebody just dropped me into the Wizard of
Okay, let's be blunt. The buzz -
Do you think this movie is too dark for kids?
(reacting in a court-of-law testimonial way-ish). We grew up with Oliver Stone
and Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang with the child-kidnapping creature
Candies, Ice cream
.lollipops! [<- on cue mind you...]
JIM: [laughter] That character freaked me out when I was a kid, but I LOVED it.
I loved creepy fun when I was a kid. I wouldn't bring your four year old, maybe,
but I think it's more than just entertainment. I think it is entertaining and
funny but I hope the movie taps in, as the book did, into something that's going
on with young kids and teenagers. Even though we have parents, sometimes, they're
busy, and we all kind of feel alone in the world. The kids do. I put myself in
with them because I'm immature. They are up against not being believed by anybody.
They have to prove everything they say like, "It's a nuclear holocaust!"
"Are you sure? Are you on something?" They do feel by themselves.
Did you learn any new techniques for scaring children?
[laughter] There was a moment where count Olaf slaps one of the kids and there
was controversy as to whether or not to have that in the movie and I said "You
know what dude? Bambi dies." In most great movies that connect with people
there's some kind of tragedy involved and some kind of pain involved. It is a
strange kind of balance that we're striking here, I'm not sure if it's been done
this way before. Although I want to be entertaining, the bottom line is Olaf is
not a nice person. He has to be that way. I said to the early on that I want them
to laugh, but at the same time the danger has to be real or we have nothing. The
movie is meaningless without real danger.
You amaze me - I mean you are in two very different films in the past year. Did
you actively look for polar opposite films? Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Vs. Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate
Events are such very different, yet beautiful, beasts.
JIM: Yeah. Eternal Sunshine to me is a different kind of animal. Basically
in Eternal Sunshine the script is the star and it touched a nerve in me
- the idea of being made invisible. The idea that at some point everyone's felt
that feeling of erasing them like their time together didn't mean anything and
that's just probably the most brutal thing to feel in an unrequited love.
What gets Jim out the door and onto a film lot or location? Script, director,
chance to play a new person?
JIM: I like all very creative attempts to
reach through. I think that anything that's off beat I'm really attracted to.
I always look for that in my movies and if nothing else at least let me be interesting,
don't bore people to death. I think Daniel Handler is one of the most original
voices to come along in a while. I was fortunate enough to go from Eternal
Sunshine with Charlie Kauffman, whose thoughts, are from another planet to
Daniel Handler who's definitely coming from a different place. He's like, "I'm
really willing to risk my audience. I'm willing to risk them to express what I
really feel." That's where he comes from which is like, "Yyeah, life's
a bummer sometimes and all we've got is each other." He's tough that way.
If you were not "Jim Carrey - International Comedian, Filmstar, Mega-talented
Mansteak," what do you think you would be doing today?
[laughter] I'd be a painter or something creative with my hands. I definitely
would be doing something art. I was very much into art when I was a kid growing
up. It was between entertaining the company and writing poetry in a closet on
a legal pad trying to figure out the universe. It was all over the place when
I was a kid but the other thing that I had was art. If I was drawing something
or painting and somebody asked me to do something I would lose my mind.
What's it like to be one of the world's best-known talents?
I have a royal inauguration every morning before I leave the house [laughter].
I have many ways to make myself centered and happy. To me it's staying in a place
and realizing what everything is really worth. I know we try to mythologize everything
in Hollywood so everything's blown out of proportion but as far as I'm concerned
I make movies that make people feel good for two hours, that's my thing I do in
life and I'm okay with that. I
think you'd be surprised at how much of a normal person I am in my life. Obviously
it's a big life and although I have to have certain people to take care of certain
things I'm still such a boring guy. I'm not exciting, really. I like my home life.
I'm quiet. I like a couple of friends hanging out, and every once in a while my
friends drag me out to some club because it's "what you're supposed to do"
to have fun.
What would you like for Christmas? [Thought but not spoken: Perhaps a nice,
unHollywoodish blonde who cooks great and cleans up nice for fancy soirees, but
can fish like a Prince Edward Island native?]
You buyin'? [laughter] No. I just want family and togetherness. I'm the toughest
person to shop for. My family threw their hands up long ago. I'd say, "A
t-shirt would be great" but they're like, 'no there must be an ancient something
from somewhere.' Or else it's a Flintstones tie and they expect you to wear it.
I'm going to be here in L.A. with my daughter and I might have my family down
Run and see Lemony. Jim has truly managed to ad to his incredible
list of roles. Granted I did not think it got much better than Eternal
(film-wise and acting-wise) but Count Olaf is a different Jim yet again. Bravo.