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DVD FEATURE: Interviews with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet for "Eternal Sunshine" DVD!
Article By Melissa Collins in Los Angeles
Photos By Mike Barton
We all wait with baited breath for the star talent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to arrive. The press has gathered and cars slow on the Boulevard to catch a glimpse of the hoop-la going on at 5900 Wilshire in Los Angeles last Thursday. The red carpet is out, the press is lined up, the paparazzi are ready.
As we await the talent, I decide to sneak a peak through the doors to the actual event to get a first–hand glimpse before the throng of guests occupies the space. I enter the offices of Lacuna. We see behind the counter a receptionist in clinical white garb sparing no detail–the chick even has the white hospital shoes to boot. Turn to your left and you’ve got doctors’ stations with cotton swabs and tongue depressors, patient tables and file cabinets labeled with titles from “corporeal charts” and “handwriting analyses equipment,” down to “criminal accusation/reporting” and “criminal profiling.” The Lacuna party scene is clinically posh, if there is such a thing, equipped with plasma screens displaying brain activity and a larger than life model of the human head.
Speaking of larger than life, turn to the right and you’ve got the kitchen from Joel Barish’s childhood memory–you remember the scene: Jim Carrey is in his P.J.s underneath the kitchen table and Kate Winslet is totally hot in a kick-ass vintage dress. Using some actual props from the film, the set is recreated for the release party. Step into it and you feel like part of Jack and the Beanstalk. The refrigerator towers over everyone in the room and the plates are the size of a human torso. I sidle up to a couple guys in white lab coats working the bar, readying glasses of Hypnotique. Very apropos. Grab a glass of water. Good music–cool Beck cover band. Wait. That’s Beck.
Back out on the red carpet scene, Mark Ruffalo, looking fashionably tousled and composer Jon Brion are among the first to arrive; Michel Gondry (director) and Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter) follow. Next comes Jim Carrey with all the charm in the world, and then graciousness itself arrives in the form of Kate Winslet. Victor Garber puts in an appearance interestingly enough, but to our disappointment neither Frodo nor Kirsten Dunst do.
“So what’s it like to dance in your underwear with Kirsten Dunst?”
We ask Mark who comes in right on beat with, “Oh it’s great! It wasn’t really scripted that way and Michel’s like, ‘Uh, why can’t you take off, uh, your shirt? Uh, will you take off your pant-eez? Why is American so prude?’” he jokes in a French accent that’s actually pretty decent. “And he eventually talked us into taking off our clothes and being down in our underwear. . . . you get into this kind of cult sort of feeling that what you’re doing is right and the next thing you know you have your clothes off, you know?” he laughs.
“Was it bizarre to be dancing on the bed in the moment Jim Carrey’s eyes are wide open as his character tries to wake up?”
“No,” Mark answers, “it was hilarious. We were doing everything we could to keep from breaking out in hysterics. We were pushing it. We started out dancing on the floor and then we jumped up on the bed just on a shim and then the next thing we knew we fell down and my ass was in Jim Carrey’s face at one point. The more we could work with the convention of him being passed out on the bed and us being totally oblivious to it, the more fun it got.”
“Is there a moment in the film that particularly resonated with you?”
“Um,” he ponders, “I love it when he says . . .” Mark is distracted by a very exuberant friend demanding his attention. Aaaaaaaaaaand he’s back. “When Jim Carrey yells out, ‘Guys let me out! I don’t want to do this! I would change my mind!’” Mark says picking up where he left off in imitation of Carrey’s stellar performance. “It’s the humanity and fragility of humanity caught in this sort of mechanical, bigger than himself . . .” he trails. “I thought that was particularly beautiful.”
“Would you ever consider going through a mind erasure process?”
“God no, hell no. As human beings we get caught up in these things that are even bigger than us. Movements. Even like . . . like plastic surgery now is kind of like this thing, you know? I think it’s ultimately damaging to the overall human psyche. But what the fuck do I know?”
Ruffalo, Winslet and Carrey could not have said more of director Michel Gondry’s génie (forgive the corny insertion, but I could not pass up an opportunity so rare–besides the fact that you will shortly find yourselves burned out on the English word ‘genius’ in relation to Gondry). “He’s like a little kid,” says Ruffalo. “He loves the playfulness and spontaneity. There’s a real joie de vivre. He really is a joyful guy. Just fun to work with. You can’t understand a word he says, but other than that it’s great!”
“Michel is such a brilliant director,” comments Ms. Winslet on Gondry. I mean, he really is a genius. And I loved him, I loved every single day of working with him. He was very spontaneous and very eccentric. Just exciting. There was something new every day. So I just couldn’t have known what it was going to be and all I can tell you is that I was more than happy with the final result.”
“There was great spontaneity in the scene where Jim picks you up in the car after the train and you’re starting to walk and you do a quick shuffle.”
“Oh yes! I did that in one take and that was the take that Michel used. And I remember him afterward saying to me, “I loved zat crazy sing zat you did wiss your feet. Zat was really cool,” Kate says in seemless transition from English accent to French accent, calling to mind her American accent in the film.
“How much of your personality went into wardrobe and Clementine’s quirkyness?”
“That’s a really good question actually, because to be perfectly honest with you I knew that Clementine wasn’t really going to come to life no matter how much rehearsal I’d done, no matter how much preparation until the costume and the wigs were on. Because she was so much about what she looked like. And I just loved being there on day one, you know, it was an orange wig. The first scene that we shot was the scene in the Chinese restaurant where they’re having that really dull dinner and she’s drinking the beer and he’s going well she’s going to be drunk and horrible. That was on day one of this movie and I just thought: This is it, this is it. I know who she is now. But that’s the case with any character. You know, it doesn’t really happen until you know what they fully look like. But I had a lot of say in that. I mean lots of costume fittings were really fun. You know, we would just go to thrift stores and just try stuff out. It was really, really great. And the wigs, I now have them all in a box.”
“Do you wear them?”
“Do you know they actually take some putting on. I mean it’s quite an ordeal. But they’re kind of carefully wrapped. They’re very delicate things actually. So many people have said to me, ‘Oh, your poor hair!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ even though they were wigs. But they’re hidden at the moment because if my daughter found them . . .”
And we had ask just how much fun it was to shoot the made-for-giants kitchen scene. Carrey responds with sincerity, “It was so much fun. Gondry is such a genius. He comes in daily with this stuff and you just go, oh my god, I cannot believe that we are part of this. And then you just try to add the frills and the whatever and keep yourself in it. But you know it is rare when you come into a project where someone on a daily basis is coming in and they’ve been up all night going, what can I do that’s never been done? You know, that’s always where I’ve wanted to be and I’ve always tried to do that myself. Don’t just kiss a girl. Do it in a way that’s different, that’s never been done. Something interesting and cinematic.”
“If there’s anything above all else that you were trying to accomplish with this portrayal of character, what would it be?”
“I just wanted to . . . I guess ultimately . . . just be, on camera. Just be, instead of trying to dive through the camera and grab somebody. Let them come to me. That was it.”
And of course, as it is an evening celebrating Eternal Sunshine’s release to DVD, we poked and prodded a little on that topic as well. “I’m really happy this is going to live on,” Carrey says. “This is one that you look back and you go, if I didn’t do anything else . . . I look back at the box set throughout and this is part of it. You know what I mean?”
“I just think it’s cool that the film has another chance to re-acquaint itself with the public,” says Mark. “It kind of has a cult status a little bit, and I think that DVD is a real cult kind of tool,” he smiles. “And that’s exciting. I think it’s a great film and it’s nice to see it have a second life.”
And thus the party kicks off. Beck plays a great set with Jon Brion, the films’ composer on keys, and Michel Gondry (who back in the day kept the beat for his band “Oui Oui” in France) on drums. The night was a blast, but the real experience is still with the film which sports commentary from Jim Carrey, Gondry, as well as Charlie Kaufman whose peerless and unique voice penned the project in the first place. Plus we’ve got some “deleted” scenes and a Lacuna commercial. I’m tellin’ you. Get out, get it, check it out, ’cause it’s out today. Finally.
And Jim . . . I think you might have mentioned something about my beautiful eyes at the party. I’m not hard to find and I await your call.
DVD Fanatic.com: http://www.dvdfanatic.com/news.php?id=0409276