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For the lead role in "The Number 23", Schumacher and the producers turned to an actor he had worked with on Batman Forever in 1994 - international superstar Jim Carrey. Carrey's range made him seem like the perfect choice to play the off-center dual roles of Walter Sparrow and Detective Fingerling, but they could only hope that he would be interested in taking on a role so different from his comedy roots.
"Jim has proven himself to be a master of acting among many genres," says producer Beau Flynn. "This thriller seemed to be a natural progression in his career, as these roles have a bizarre comic edge within an original look at life that is perfectly Jim."
Schumacher also believed from his previous experience working with Carrey that the actor had the ability to take on the challenging dual roles.
"I think people have started to see Jim as the fine actor he is," says Schumacher. "Somehow in our culture, great brilliant comics are not revered in the same way as dramatic actors, which is crazy. Jim has certainly been one of stellar comic stars for a long time now, but he has many other facets, and I think he certainly shows them in this movie. He's fearless."
The filmmakers believed Carrey could pull off the role, but what they didn't know at the time was that Carrey also had his own personal connection to the number 23.
"I actually changed the name of my company to JC23 a couple years ago because I had kind of an obsession with this number for a long time," says Carrey. "One of my friends in Canada had the obsession, and he told me about it - started pointing to things like license plates and showing how they added up to 23. I thought it was ridiculous, but then I started seeing it everywhere and it finally ended up culminating in my realization that the 23rd Psalm was about living without fear. That's why I used it in my company name."
A few years later, the number would once again surface in Carrey's life.
"When the script came along, it was completely coincidental," says Carrey. "I was telling a friend about my 23 thing, and he told me he had just read a script called The Number 23. So I read it and was blown away - it was so compelling and it was freaking me out, page by page. I gave the script to another friend of mine to read and, after an hour and a half, I went back in to see him. He had read the entire script and had turned to page 23 where he was circling every 23rd word to see if there was a pattern. That's what I think this movie will do with an audience - you'll leave the theater going, 'There it is!'"
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That's really interesting! It DOES show up everywhere! It's like once you realize it's there, it follows you!
"No time outs. Only DEATH!"
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