Carrey | A Bountiful Mind
in the realm of one of my comedic gods, Jim Carrey, is almost
a religious experience; it's 'The Passion of the Jim' for me....He's
the Ganeesh within my personalized version of Blunt Buddhism.
like the happy multi-handed multidimensional Hindi god Ganeesh,
Jim too has many different layers of gifts to bring. Here, in
his latest soiree on film, Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind, he is not of the bowl-cut mask wearing-
furry green - Monopoly man-bashing-lying
liar sort. No. It's a serious, unabashedly honest, thoroughly
brilliant, bit of cinematic frolicking without his patented knee-slapping
guffaw inducing face-isms.
Carrey's playing normal old Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind. Joel's a guy who wakes up to discover the love
of his life has literally erased him from her memory. In
retaliation for the "slight" he ventures into the franchise
offering the service to erase her. So there!
is a Charlie Kaufman script - so you
know the work is deeply layered, yet tons-o-fun, and diabolically
clever - like Jim himself. Really the actor to material fit is
Speaking of fit...humina humina...Gentleman Jim showed up dressed
in one of those sexy dark tanned suede jackety shirts so popular
with the Banana Republic crowd...could he be cuter? Um, no.
He's about six foot two of tasty handsome bits wrapped in an edible
package of oozing manyum, with an enormous...side of heaping talent.
The guy drives me bughouse I tell ya!
another long gleeful chat with one of history's finest talents
- disagree? Go snort some Tom Green paste while wallowing in network
reality TV and leave those who agree to indulge in the chat:
Hello, Mr. Carrey. Is your head shaved for Lemony Snicket?
Yeah, Lemony Snicket. Lots of wigs. It was so much fun.
We're halfway through.You know, it's just going to come in so
thick next time.
It's a nice look for you. [Thought not spoken: though you'd
look hot in a burlap sack you delectable mansteak of desire you
Thank you. [Jim flashes an odd inner-smiley look. I wonder;
"Did I say that aloud?" for an instant
I would like to say first that Charlie Kaufman is a genius...
Oh, yes. Isn't he?
Can you tell me a bit about the rewards you get from a Charlie
Oh my gosh. It's like Moses coming down from the mountain with
the tablets. Every time that he has a script, all of Hollywood
goes, 'It's here!' He's just so rock and roll at the same time
that he's a complete intellectual and this movie has everything
going. So, when I read the script, I was just first of all, happy
to be a small part of his legacy because I know that it's going
to be one hell of a legacy, all of his creative madness, but this
script is everything. Most of the time, he stays in this wild,
intellectual world and this one; it just has such an anchor of
heart, and something that we can all identify with on an emotional
level. So, it's got everything going at the same time. I just
feel like I won the lottery.
And the challenges?
The challenges, major challenges as far as knowing where you are
in this script. I mean, when you're going through the memories,
are we lucid in the memories, and I was constantly like, 'Michel,
please tell me in my language.' He was hard to understand sometimes,
Michel, and during the whole Iraq thing, he was calling himself
French Toast and stuff. 'Just call me French Toast.' But the challenges
were, 'Michel, where are? Are we lucid in this dream or this memory?
Is this memory the way it was or has it been gilded in retrospect.'
It was really fascinating.
So, how'd you get this coveted role in Eternal Sunshine?
I don't remember. Honestly. The script came to me, someone gave
it to me and I read it and I thought that it was incredible and
I couldn't believe that I was being offered it. I was just very,
very happy. It's one of those things where you sit back and read
the script and I had this guilty feeling of, 'How did I get this
one and "The Truman Show", man? Great.' Those
are two really interesting, original movies. I'm really happy
about it, yeah. It's great to be a part of it and the cast is
amazing. It's unbelievable on many levels.
The film is actually romantic- was there any film's particular
romantic scene that inspired you here?
Just in my life. I mean, movies are great, but I think that the
real romance happens kind of like right here [he puts his face
a mille inch from his face] somewhere, real close up. To me, this
part, I couldn't really have done it if I hadn't been through
a lot in one way or the other. Either you are the one erasing
or you are the one being erased. So, it's not a pleasant feeling.
How have you dealt with that part? The relationships that have
How have I dealt with that, I've had a lot of conversations with
myself, a lot of summations; 'Okay, and that is my final word
on the subject
and another thing
' and that kind of
thing goes on for a while and then generally, I forgive and move
on and look at the world as a beautiful place again sooner or
later. I think that the real magic, and the thing about this movie
is that you accept the flaws and you accept what was wrong and
you move on and you love the person for who they are, flaws and
all and you can't help who you love either. It comes from a different
side of your brain than the logic part that tells you that this
person is horrible for you. You should walk away and so, while
you are walking away, the other part of your brain is trying to
gain control of your bodily functions. 'Turn around, she's the
[as he looks into my eyes I drift to a lakeside picnic
dogs frolicking, Jim skipping
about to a Monkees song..oops...
Well, I tell you based on my relatiponships...
[laughter] You have trouble even saying the word! [laughs kindly
at me]. Another gal earlier had trouble saying romantic. That's
a comment on our society. 'So, the thing about this movie is that
it's about rrr- eee---layaya-ttiiion-sshhhhhhips [he pretends
to be unable to spit out the word relationship - in that choke-heave
way]. It's really about Laaa-laa-lllooovve!' [laughter]
[I could pee from laughter at this point - oh how we relate
in this arena!]. Yes. The idea of quickly erasing a certain,
or something, form my memory is very appealing. How about you?
Of course, in the moment especially when you're going through
something and you think, 'I don't need this. I don't need
to live in fight or flight response. Let me let this go,' but
in retrospect, it always seems to work out that you can look back
on something that was a disaster and find some gems in there.
Yeah. The pain and I agree- isn't as stabbing in the heart after
Okay, so can you talk about playing the straight,
let's say almost humorless-ish guy here?
You know, he's not a humorless character at all. I think that
Joel has immense and amazing things going on inside his brain
that spill out onto his page when he's doing his diaries and things
like that and when Clementine comes by, she's kind of like the
outward manifestation of what he has inside of himself that he
can't express. So, I don't think that he's humorless or uninteresting.
I think that he's really complex.
Speaking of Clementine - can you talk about working with Kate
JIM: Well, I get excited when the people that I work with scare
me. I mean, she's just scary talented and an amazing actress or
actor, whatever you call them these days, but I get excited when
I'm going to be surrounded by people who make me better and make
me stay on my game and challenge me. So, she's wonderful to watch,
unbelievable, because you sometimes don't know what she's doing
when you're in the scene with her and then, you look at it later
and she knows what's going to come off and how it's going to look.
EMILY: Okay there's always something surreal on your sets - what
happened this time?
What was interesting during the movie was that these psychic things
were happening and of course, I was pouring a lot of whatever
I've gone through into it, as much as I could, but things like,
when I was in the second grade, I had a teacher who came into
school. She was this Irish lady and said [he does his Lucky Charms
voice:], 'If I pray to the Virgin Mary and I ask her for anything
that I want, she gives me anything that I want,' and I'm sort
of in the back of the class going, 'Hmm, sounds good.' So, I went
home and I prayed to the Virgin Mary for a bicycle, for a Mustang
bike and two weeks later, I won a green Mustang bike in a raffle
that I didn't enter two weeks later. A friend of mine put my name
into a sporting goods store and I won the bike and that bike showed
up in the movie without me even trying in the scene where the
rain starts and I start trying to bring her back to when I grew
up in the memories, the row, row your boat is a big thing for
me to. I have it in the cement at the Chinese Theater, and so,
I used to sing that on my aunt's porch when it rained and watch
the squirrel's scatter. The Mustang bike, when it showed up that
day, I was so excited because this is just how my life is, it
just is like, 'Wow, I'm going back into my past and here's the
magical, magical Mustang bike, green, and everything.'
The whole thing was exactly the bike that I had. I had nothing
to do with it. So, I got to speed off on my Mustang bike from
my real memories .
Yeah. Wild! I remember we talked about that-I love that story!
Did you keep the bike?
No, no I don't. I have a Harley
that I prayed for. [raises
his eyebrow & laughs]
This is another film involving memory loss
is this some hidden
Well, you know, truth be told, that didn't even occur to me when
I read this script. It wasn't about memory. It was about being
erased. It was a different perspective on it. It was about the
idea of how it would feel to be erased, and that was the strongest
pull for me. It's like, 'Wow, that's a heavy feeling,' and that's
what hit me with the script, when he finds out that she's erased
him, it's just a brutal thing to probably anyone's ego, but to
a male ego especially and I love the idea that the memories went
in reverse. There were so many things that made it different than
your normal losing your memory movie. I love the clunky, sci-fi
aspect to this movie. It doesn't take it over, but it's just a
function within it. It's interesting.
People keep making a distinction between the "Goofy"
Jim and the "Dramatic" Jim role
It's a Jekyll and Hyde situation, lets face it. [laughter]
You're really kind of "open" vulnerable in this character.
Was it hard to "get" there?
What was interesting, part of the aspect of doing this role is
that you have to open up old wounds. I mean, I wasn't ecstatic
and happy and joyful when I went to New York and then, I had to
sit there and peel the scabs off, and go, 'Oh yeah, I remember
that.' There was a lot of that, it opened me up. I also wanted
to express a lot of anger and kind of resentment of old hurts
past and things like that, and what ended up happening, and I'm
really thankful that it ended up happening, but that when it was
all put together, it became like a love letter. So, I was saved
from myself. It was a love letter to everyone that I've loved.
How do you feel about erasing - or holding on to even sour memories?
Does it help to forget- because we're afraid to feel again?
I think that quick fixes are big for sure. I think that we're
all erasing things every morning when we go to Starbucks. We're
just like, 'Ah, whatever, it can't come up again. Don't let it
come up again,' and that kind of thing. We suppress. We don't
completely erase, but I think that we would in the moment. I think
that we would definitely chose that a lot of times when we're
on our knees screaming at God, but I don't know if I answered
Kind of - but what, in your opinion, do we lose if we were to
Oh, basically, you can make the same mistakes over and over again
and not that you wouldn't anyway even if you knew, but there are
beautiful moments. People expect these days, everyone expects
that fairy tale where everyone is going to be together forever
with someone and I don't really subscribe to that. I mean, I'd
love that to happen if that happened, but ten years is enough
[Laughs]. Ten years is a good thing with someone, it's a good
thing, a lot of good love can happen in ten years.
For me three is stretching it! [Thought not spoken-though I'd
be willing to risk it for you Jimski Von Yum] So, touch you
- you got to work with Kaufman and Gondry. Can you talk a bit
about Michel Gondry?
JIM: Michel is just a creative genius, I think, but people haven't
really discovered him on a mass level yet, but he comes in everyday
with something that just kind of spins you around and makes you
go, 'Wow, someone is thinking, man! Thank you, this is great.'
Someone is bringing something to the table. He comes in and asks
me to do things that are impossible. There's a scene in the movie
where I come into the office of Lacuna, in my memory, and I'm
screaming at the doctor and I'm in two different places in the
scene and it's not split screen, it's not any of that. It's Michel
coming in and saying, 'You're going to run around the camera and
put the hat on and take it off and put it on and take it off,'
and so, that's me going back and forth behind the camera, behind
the handheld camera in the dark with a dresser going like this.
I'm not kidding, that's what was happening in that scene, and
it was just, how quickly can you run through the dark, get a jacket,
a hat on, and then completely change your attitude to the person
on the other side of the room, and I argued with him. I said,
'This can't be done. I can't do this. It's impossible.' He said,
[as Jim puts on this dramatic yet oddly exact - accent of French
as Gondry] 'How do you know if you don't try?' I went back to
the historical times with French explorers and things like that,
and I was suddenly like, 'Yes, I'm onboard Mr. Gondry. We will
call this Lake Champaign'.
So what was it like to work with Jim Carrey on this film?
it was pretty interesting, pretty interesting. It's a funny thing;
I just get to do so many different things. It's an amazing life.
I always feel so lucky, honestly. When I'm doing the big
broad comedy, I'm like sitting somewhere going, 'Oh my God, I can't
believe that I'm getting to do this. This is so silly, it's ridiculous,'
and then, someone gives me the chance to
the difference is
with those kinds of things is that I'm coming at the audience and
on this, I get to sit back and let them come inside. You can maybe
word that differently.[laughter]
My Fave Jim Shot
Photo George Lange
[Eyebrow raised] Not a chance! [laughter] Do you have a
"plan" for your career? I mean are you transitioning
No, no, no. I'm just expressing whatever comes around that I can.
This script came and I went, 'Oh, I know this guy, and I want
to do this because there's a lot of things that I have to get
out of my system.' So, it was just perfect. The scripts find you.
It's not really a plan. I mean, it'd be great if it laid out in
a certain pattern that worked for the long term. Clint Eastwood
kind of had a great pattern in his life. He did commercial things
that appealed to a wide audience and then, he did things that
might challenge him or whatever.
I do put it out in the universe. I say, 'You know what, I want
something that's really intelligent and beautiful at it's heart,'
and a few years ago, I decided that I do want to make things that
uplift people in a kind of real way. The wonderful thing about
this movie is that it's about love and it's romantic without being
romanticized. It's real love. It's love when you go, 'You are
ugly to me sometimes, and I love you, but sometimes I'm not going
to like you.'
EMILY: Can you tell me about this now infamous 'Pecan Pie' song,
err, short? Will it be on the Eternal dvd? [Know now - it's
presently available on Michel
Gondry's dvd collection]
[laughter] That night was insane. Okay, that night, first of all,
that same night, we went out in between takes. Michel had rigged
this bed with a Volkswagen chassis, it had a Volkswagen engine
and everything, and he said, 'Come on out.' I had sung my Pecan
Pie which is a song that I was hoping to get to Elvis, but he
passed on and it goes, 'I love pecan pie. I love a pecan pie,
I love a pecan pie, I love a pecan pieeee, I love a pecan pie,
I love a pecan pie. I love a peeeeeeeeecan pie.' That's the song.
Thank you, so much. Thank you, and went out in the middle of shooting
in between takes on a really busy night and took over this gas
station with this bed, Volkswagen bug that didn't have brakes
or anything and I'm just spinning around this gas station out
of control almost hitting people, it was craziness and the cops
came in just as we were leaving down the highway with this bed.
The cops were coming the other way and we were like driving this
bed down the highway. It was the most insane night. It was like,
you know, I don't know, mercury in retrograde.
You admitted to not being beneath groveling at stairs in the wee
hours for love- romance. Can you talk about romance?
Well, I definitely like the way it ended up. I don't want to talk
about the movie's ends, necessarily, but I like where it went
and what it says. I don't know if it's possible, and I mean, I've
never had it, a love without that feeling of a little bit of compromise
going on. I don't know if you can. So, I've never experienced
that. I've experienced moments of it of like, 'This is absolute,
I'm sure, I'm sure, I'm sure,' but then, Mr. Doubt always comes
and knocks on the door and goes, 'Her head's kind of big for her
body.' No. I don't know if I answered the question.
Kind of - but I get what you mean. Everyone wants to hear about
Lemony Snicket. Can you tell me a bit a bout it?
Oh man, it's so much fun and such a different way to tell a children's
story. It's very original and it's an opportunity for me to show
up as this crazed thespian. He's an evil thespian, which is redundant,
[We chuckle in an over dramatic way then stop on cue - love
this guy] So you're to be the Six Million Dollar Man. What
do think you'll do comedically with that?
JIM: I am bionic.
With all the organs? [Oops, that came out just wrong - and
I blatantly looked 'there']
JIM: [not one to miss a lusty glance] Well, [big smile] that's
a sensitive organ, they're working on that one [Laughs]. 'Is it
ready yet?!' I forgot what the question was. Oh, I mean, a lot
of people, you probably shouldn't even report on this yet because
I don't know if it's going tohappen or not because it's not really
that far down the line, we're developing that script. I think
that it's just going to be a whole lot of fun. I love playing
ego and playing an insecurity combined, and that's the same thing,
I guess. It's ego out of control. I think that it's just going
to be fun. You know, six million dollars doesn't get you a lot
in this world these days. So, you can kind of imagine where the
plot is going to go!
There you go. Okay folks, you ready to accept Jim as the serious
bloke yet? Well, he showed you his dramatic abilities in The
Truman Show, Man on the Moon
and The Majestic - if you liked
his work there? This Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
excursion is going to blow you away. There's a heap of talent
behind those gorgeous brown eyes of his - we all knew that - but
he's taken his stereotyped persona and whacked it upside the head
once and for all here. No one can blast his acting abilities ever
I mean those who did. Those of us firmly in Jim's corner
knew it all along
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a cold
shower, and a swell martini concoction to reenter our everyday