Fun with Dick & Jane: An Interview with Jim Carrey
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Fun with Dick & Jane: An Interview with Jim Carrey
By Wilson Morales
It was only a matter of time before anyone took a shot at making a film about corporate corruption in regards to the Enrons and other companies out there. Rather than do a documentary, we have a comedy film starring one of America's top comediennes, Jim Carrey. In "Fun with Dick and Jane", Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni plays a husband and wife team of thieves who result to this act due to a sudden change in their finances, which is not the coolest place to be. In speaking to blackfilm.com, Carrey spoke about his character and the amount of fun he had on the set.
Can you talk about taking this and remaking it among other things besides the fact that you want to have fun with this because you thought it was contemporarily relevant?
Jim Carrey: Yeah, I think it is odd to remake a movie when the original was made in 1977. I mean it's pretty early you know, but I think it is more relevant now that it was then because of Enron and all those corporate scams that have gone on and all the people that have been affected by that so I thought it was actually just a perfect idea and a fun idea. And the bottom line, it's a really cool backdrop and it has a conscious but it's a movie about fun, you know, that's it. The movie's about two people breaking their chains and throwing caution to the wind and throwing the rules out the window which we can't do in out lives. I can, but you guys can't.
Director Dean Parisot's done a lot of television and some comedy stuff did you see that in him?
Carrey: Yeah, I wanted to do something with Dean. I also thought Galaxy Quest was very, very good. For what it was it was like, 'Man.' It's a great cast, terrific cast and a really funny movie. A really solid comedy so I just from that basically I thought this guy has a lot of talent. He knows what's funny.
There were talks of rewrites and re-shoots for this movie. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Carrey: There weren't just talks of them. There were actual rewrites and re-shoots. Well, a lot of people make a big deal about that kind of stuff but to me that's just part of the process. You know when you put a play up you take it out of town, you put it up and you rewrite and you fix it up until it's ready to come to Broadway. I mean for me it's the end product that's important and we thought of a bunch of things when we saw the screenings we started thinking of a bunch of things that would make it funnier and just a lot of really good new ideas and there were some things that we wanted to take in different directions so we just wanted to perfect it so I think we got a really funny movie and I think that's the bottom line to just make it as funny as possible.
What was your most favorite costume and why?
Carrey: Oh my gosh. Well the Cher thing was pretty fun. Just trying to hide the lump was an experience. No, I'm kidding.
Same for her?
Carrey: Oh, man. Now he said that, okay? I don't want her coming to my house. But yeah actually my daughter came to visit me on the set with I was doing the Cher thing and she was like, 'Dad, this is gonna cause damage. You are the ugliest woman I have ever seen in my life.' And I gained a lot of respect for women in their high heels. It is a torture chamber, man. It is unbelievable. It's so frightening.
Did you practice around the house?
Carrey: I was struttin'. I was struttin'. It just didn't look good.
What size heels did you wear?
Carrey: Those were like a good four inches so I was in pain. I was in extreme agony.
Can you talk about having Téa Leoni to bounce off of?
Carrey: Well, she's incredible and she's a complete gamer, she'll go anywhere and do anything. She's not afraid to look silly and she's incredibly talented as an actor, I mean she's really connected. And I think the relationship comes off real. I think you really like this couple. The love is real. And there are moments in it, even though it's completely silly, where it stops and you go, 'hey wait a second. This is real. There's like real love here.' So that was important to me to have somebody who could give it authenticity as well as be insane.
I believe you've known Judd Apatow for about twenty years.
Carrey: I have.
But sometimes when two people collaborate on a movie that doesn't do as well like I'm thinking ten years ago you guys did 'Cable Guy' together, you sometimes never see them working -
Carrey: I love 'Cable Guy!'
I do too.
Carrey: But you know, whatever.
They may never work together again but what made you bring Judd on? What's he bring to the table?
Carrey: I need Judd. It was need that makes me - no. I love Judd. We practically started out together. He was one of the first guys that kind of saw me doing some of the crazy different stuff, for years I was an impressionist and I stopped doing that for a couple of years and I came back as a standup trying to kind of discover myself and he was the one that was like kind of running around telling people, 'this guy, if he doesn't clear the room because of some horrible thing he says, he's really wonderful to watch.' And he was kind of my champion. And we started writing before 'In Living Color.' We started writing sketches and we've been writing ever since. Practically everything I do I try to get Judd on or I do.
How about for this project?
Carrey: 'Dick and Jane', yeah. 'Dick and Jane' he was the main writer, yeah. When you talk about the heels, not to imply that you're not as young as you once were, but the physical comedy - is there a point where you say, 'okay enough of this today.
I've got to recuperate for tomorrow?'
Carrey: I'm a Capricorn Aquarius cusp, man. I'm better in the second half. Better in the second half. No, I keep myself in shape. I feel good. I can do some crazy stuff. Nothing's too brittle yet.
Did you hurt yourself at all?
Carrey: My bones aren't porous at this point. I don't think.
Did you take a bad fall?
Carrey: I always hurt myself during a movie. Low-grade injuries all the time. That's just comes with the territory. I think on 'Me, Myself, and Irene' I did the entire movie on a severely sprained ankle and just bruised from head to food I mean, I'm always banging myself up. It's like the X Games. It's good.
Underneath the comedy though, Jim, there's this desperation, this sadness in this character.
Carrey: You found out.
But what was the most desperate thing you've done in your own life when you thought everything was just falling apart.
Carrey: Aw man. Well, hmmm, that's tough. I've had moments in my life where everything looked so bleak it was insane but like, you know we lived in a van for a while as a family when I was growing up and I thought some pretty desperate thoughts. I never really followed through on them. But I was thinking about fixing some breaks out there, absolutely. I was pretty angry. But I never really went through with it. The most desperate crazy things I do is when I'm in a situation where everybody in the room knows that there's something going on but nobody wants to say anything because it wouldn't be proper and those are the times when I kind of become like my desperate, I have to show the elephant person.
How does finding a balance in the material help you deal with that too though because for every full throttle comedy like this you do an 'Eternal Sunshine' or a 'Majestic' or 'The Number 23' which is a drama. So does that balance help you find what you were just talking about?
Carrey: Yeah. I mean no human being is just one thing. I think we're past the time in history where you have to come out and say, 'you know I'm just happy all the time! I'm a joker, I'm a crazy man!' you know kind of thing. I think people understand I can turn that switch on but I'm also a sensitive, normal human being with feelings and I know how to express those too. So I feel so lucky that I've had so many opportunities to do those things - 'Truman Show' and 'Eternal Sunshine' were like gifts from God for me. Sometimes I sit back and somebody talks about 'Eternal Sunshine' and I go, 'Did I get to be in that thing? Wow, that's amazing.' I honestly feel so blessed. In the last life I pulled somebody's hamster out of a burning building or something, I don't know. I really feel lucky.
Jim we were talking to Jamie Foxx regarding - he was talking -
Carrey: How's he doin'?
Well I think he's doin' pretty good.
But he was talking about how he turns on BET and they're doing reruns of 'In Living Color' and he watches it and it reminds him of what a great training ground it was and he worked with you and everyone else and how much they taught him and I was wondering if you've ever thought or looked back and said, Wow, that really was something that taught me something?'
Carrey: Yeah, every once in a while I'll see something like that and obviously when I was doing it there were people on the show that were kind of like, 'Oh, what's this gonna get me? What's this gonna do?' And that happens on any kind of show like that - 'Saturday Night Live', all those places people are in kind of fear of what's happening after this and I was always in the place of like, this is it. We made it. And right to the last show on that show I felt like I wanted to do something different and I was excited about it and I felt like it was a step along the way but I wasn't afraid of where it was gonna take me or anything like that. I really felt like I was having a good time. And there were always moments on shows like that where you hate somebody but that's just the reality of being cooped up with people.
Was there a lot of improv on the movie - for example in the scene where you had the voice thing when you were robbing the guy?
Carrey: Oh yeah, man. That think when on, I swear to God, you should get some footage of that because there is at least an hour and a half of footage of me just torturing him. I had so much fun. I had a blast with those little stupid voice boxes. They're ridiculous. They just showed up. The prop guys had them and we put them on and it became the joke. I think we really showed how fun a home invasion can be.
Jim, what's got you excited about 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not?'
Carrey: Well Tim Burton. Working with Tim Burton. I've always wanted to work with Tim Burton. He's a genius and I just am so excited about that. We met when I was in Paris and when you meet somebody you really admire you're always a little nervous about, gosh, I wonder if they'll like me. I wonder if he'll be somebody I'll like and we met and it was just immediately a great time and he's a great guy and I don't think anybody could do the freaks better than he could. You know what I mean? I mean I'm gonna be surrounded by a bunch of misfits in the movie and I just think it's gonna be wonderful. I'm really looking forward to it.
When does that begin?
Carrey: That'll be in the fall sometime, I think if all the stuff goes right.
Who do you play in '23'?
Carrey: I'm actually a dogcatcher in '23.' I'm an animal control officer but the movie drew me. The movie is really about obsession and I've had an obsession with the number 23 for years. I see it everywhere, license plates add up to it. My friend, one of my best friends in Canada, he turned me onto it. He's had it for years. He's been writing down 23 things forever. Like the earth's axis is 23, the human body has 46 chromosomes - 23 from each parent and you can go on and on, how this 23 number pops up and there are actually kind of societies out there that like follow 23. You know the Hiroshima bomb landed at 8:15 and that adds up to 23 and it just goes on infinitem (sic) and it's a very odd think but I see it everywhere. I even changed the name of my company to JC23 a couple years ago because for me, it culminated to the 23rd psalm, which is about living without fear. I was explaining this to somebody and they said, 'I just read a script called 'The Number 23' and I said, 'Well I have to see this script.' And I read it and I couldn't put it down and it's so interesting and it's so compelling. I gave it to a friend of mine to read - he read it in about an hour and a half and I came back in and he was on page 23 circling every 23rd word trying to see if there was a code. And this is what I want to do to an audience. I want to turn them into these people who see 23 everywhere. But it's this really interesting story.
Do you believe in numerology?
Carrey: Not necessarily. I just think there's a little something to everything. There's a little something to astrology, there's a little something to numerology - whatever it means to you. To me 23 is a good thing. The pope died at 2:37 Eastern Standard Time. Those kinds of things pop up everyday of my life. It's always like that. And seven is the number of completion in the Bible and all of those things. So it was the last day of Easter, 23 which is the valley of the shadow of death and 7, which is the number of completion. And those things go on in my head and I can't - I have to put them some place. Do you believe that bank robbing can pump up your sex life?
Carrey: I think a little bad is good. And I'm not sure about the bank-robbing thing. But I don't think we're gonna have that problem with this movie. I don't think anybodies gonna walk out of the movie and rob a 7-11 necessarily. And just in case, we've got Holy Water on the way in, and we're gonna put switches that they can buy at the concession stand so they can whip themselves if they have bad thoughts.
How are you going about picking your roles now - balancing the wacky and zany and the dramatic and are you looking for Oscar-type roles at all based on, I mean after 'Eternal Sunshine' sort of got unfortunately ignored last year?
Carrey: I'm not looking for anything like that. I'm looking to do good work, that's what I concentrate on, honestly. All of that stuff is wonderful if it happens for you it's great. But I really am about the work. I love telling stories and I love losing myself in a character and I love, if somebody told me, you know you have to lose fifty pounds and be emaciated and whatever, I'm like, 'Great! Let's do it, man. I want to transform.' I'm always in that kind of place of diving dissatisfaction with this art form. Honestly, sometimes there are moments, glimpses when I go like, 'Oooo that was cool. Okay, that was something.' But for the most part I'm in a place of like, 'Damn it! What am I gonna do that's gonna just make an audience blow up?' That's gonna affect things and change the paradigm of life itself. That's not too much to ask, is it?
'Eternal Sunshine' has come up twice now and it's a great film. Why did it not connect with audiences and why did it get ignored?
Carrey: I think it did connect with audiences. I mean the facility of the award season and all those things like that can help a movie make more money. This movie did what it was supposed to do in that time frame. I think they were, I think it was a bad time to open the movie if you wanted to have that buzz. It was early in the year and human beings are just so bombarded by things that by the time it comes out it's like, 'Oh, did that happen last year? I don't remember.' It's just the way we are. It's just a natural progression. But I think it did make an impact with people and I run into people all the time that say, 'That movie is really special' and it will last and it really touches people. So, how do you measure success, you know? I mean you gotta measure success by the impact that it has on each individual I think, you know?
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