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Interview: Jim Carrey Comes Undone

By Heather Wadowski
(JCO Senior Editor)

Jim Carrey is truly blessed. After all, how many high school drop-outs can you name that went on to make $25 million a paycheck? However, talent is talent whether you have a college degree or not, and there's no denying that Jim Carrey is one of-- if not the most-- talented comedians of our time. And with such Oscar-worthy performances in "The Truman Show", "Man on the Moon" and "The Majestic", Carrey has proven himself over the years to be more than just another funny face, and well worth the $20 million a movie his presence commands.

But despite winning two Golden Globes for his dramatic turns in "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon", audiences weren't as receptive to Carrey's serious side as his critics. Fans refused to take the man who once talked out of his ass for laughs seriously, and kept waiting for him to return to his comedic roots. This resulted in Carrey having to slash his asking price when starring in a more serious picture since his name wasn't as bankable headlining a drama. But Carrey's salary ($20 million a picture) recently skyrocketed when he re-teamed with "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"/"Liar Liar" director Tom Shadyac and "In Living Color"/"Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" screenwriter Steve Oedekerk to star in this summer's heavenly comedy "Bruce Almighty", a movie Universal Pictures' is counting on as being one of the year's biggest hits.

In "Bruce Almighty", Carrey plays a role very easy to picture him in, the role of God. Actually, Carrey plays an ordinary, down-on-his-luck guy who gets God's powers for a week while the Big Guy takes a vacation. But nevertheless, the role-- as fictitious as it is-- rings close to Carrey's own life and not just because of the eerie coincidences that have occurred over the years ($10 million paycheck to himself ring a bell?). Right from the opening scene where an angered Bruce complains about how "no one takes him seriously" at the news station he works for, and how for every serious, important story he's given he's also given five fluffy, entertainment bits because he's known as the reporter who can make people laugh, "Bruce Almighty" sounds like a story Carrey is all too familiar with.

As Carrey walks into the Burton Room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, his boyish charm is hard to ignore. His hair is a bit longer than fans are used to, with his bangs slightly matted (yet more fluffed up than his "Dumb and Dumber" days) across his forehead. He's wearing a black jacket, unzipped, with a plaid blue flannel on underneath, the top three buttons undone. He's calm and appears happy, and reacts humbling when Shadyac praises the 41-year-old comic. As the interview progresses, both Carrey and his shirt seem to come undone-- Carrey, as he discusses his own faith and the powers that be which landed him on Hollywood's A-list, and his shirt as it continues to unbutton (unnoticed by Carrey) right down until only two buttons are intact above his navel. Although our time together was limited, Carrey seemed to be comfortable with lying himself out like an open book, leaving few questions unanswered. And as honest and emotional as the interview was at times, somehow Carrey managed to keep a smile on everyone's face, proving yet again how this Canadian can mix humor and drama seamlessly. As the interview came to an end, only one phrase could truly sum up the experience in its entirety-- it was like seeing the powers of Jim Almighty at work first hand.

Jim, obviously "Bruce Almighty" takes you back to your roots, both comedically and working with Tom Shadyac and Steve Oedekerk. Coming from a string of dramatic pictures, most recently "The Majestic," one has to wonder whether you prefer comedy or drama.
Carrey: I like being creative, basically, period. I mean we [looks at Shadyac] have a blast. We always have a blast when we get together. Whether we're doing a movie or we're locked in a cabin somewhere in Alaska, stripping each other of our, what was it, our main mode of operandi? We had a very strange game we played up in Alaska last time we were there, where he wasn't allowed to control and I wasn't allowed to say 'me' or 'I.' We had nothing to say to each other.
Shadyac: I'm a director and he's an actor.
Carrey: It was hilarious.

So was it at all important to you after "The Majestic" to go back to your comedic roots and why this particular script?
Carrey: I think it's important never to look a gift horse in the mouth and never to overlook your talents-- what you're good at-- and so I really don't consider that. Tom comes and says, 'We have this concept that's really cool,' and I say, 'Wow, that sounds like a blast,' and we get to sit in a room together again-- Steve Oedekerk included-- and hash it out like we did with "Ace" and "Liar Liar." It just sounds like a great creative challenge to me, so it doesn't matter whether it's dramatic or comedic to me.

There's a certain aspect of your character's professional life-- not being taken seriously in the news world-- that seems to hit a little too close to home. Does Bruce's rant about how he's never taken seriously and always has to go back and do the funny, entertaining piece to make people happy depend on precisely the fact that you've been trying to do drama and now almost seem forced to go back into comedy?
Carrey: Everybody has those thoughts, you know, creatively. Like 'Oh, will I be accepted doing different things,' and I've been lucky enough to be able to do a lot different things, so I feel very good that way. But it is a great story line and a great character trait. We all kind of like face, you know, how do we define ourselves, and I don't have that many limits on myself. Maybe some other people will try to limit me but I'll never limit myself. I think this movie is more about somebody being grateful for what they have. Sitting in front of a banquet table and saying, 'Hey, there's no grapes,' you know, that kind of thing and saying, 'I can't eat this without the grapes' or whatever it is... I just think it's about appreciating what you have as well as exploring.

Over the years you have obviously become known for your improvisational skills. What percentage, if any, was improv on "Bruce Almighty?"
Carrey: Ninety-nine point nine percent, just right off the top of my head.
Shadyac: I'll answer part of that and let Jim go because it's, I think the mistake that most people make is to think that because Jim is so creative and he has this genius about him that-- see how I suck up, by the way?-- but he is so creative that you just put Jim in a room like this with another actor and you say 'improv.' No, this is very carefully thought out. Jim and I and Steve Oedekerk, we go through every scenario. It's not unusual for Jim and I and Steve to look, to take a whole day to write one joke. And then based on that structure and that well thoughtfulness, Jim gets to go. It's really a well thought out process. Based on that structure Jim gives us 20 options that may not have been there had we not had that day to sit there and think about that scene.
Carrey: You have to know what you're doing going in and then hopefully you think of 50 other ideas as you're doing it, and it's always been a combination of everything.
Shadyac: This is going to be on this movie, Jim and I decided we're going to let people in a little bit into the process because we've done this so many times together.
Carrey: For instance, right now my hand is on my groin. You might not know that. It keeps me up and ready to answer the questions.
Shadyac: But you'll see when you get the DVD how we literally have 20 options. For example, when Jim lit the candles in this movie, you know with God's powers there's 20 options that we have again, based on improvisation and also forethought.

It seems like an interesting evolution in the way the concept of God is portrayed on film. In the fifties we had the Bible's version...
Carrey: I loved all those movies, by the way. Loved those movies! "The Ten Commandments." "The King of Kings" and all that stuff. Great.
... but now we see him like he's just like a regular guy. Do you think this says anything about the way society views the concept of God and spirituality?
Carrey: Probably people, I know myself, we've always tried to humanize Him in some way. He's probably just, you know, a shaft of light in a doorway or something like that. How's that for poetry?
Shadyac: Yes, it's beautiful.
Carrey: You want to kiss me now, don't you?
Shadyac: Yes I do.
Carrey: But we've always tried to personalize Him, so to me I think I wanted God in this thing to be the guy whose absolutely dignified and has this austere quality and this kind of no-nonsense-ness to Him, but at the same time has a sense of humor. Because God made our sense of humor. And that's what we don't get a lot of, you know, is God kind of messing with your head. And I loved that Morgan [Freeman] was able to totally come out of that thing that he does so well and mess with my character and be silly. Reduce himself.

We're kind of living in an uptight, PC world right now where people just seem to be looking for things to complain about in the media. Are you at all worried that the religious community might find "Bruce Almighty" sacrilegious?
Carrey: I think I'm going to be welcome anywhere. I think I will share the host with many!

You two obviously have a shorthand, like a Chip and Dale thing going on. Does that make it easier or harder to work together? Can you be honest with each when you're on set?
Carrey: Brutally.
Shadyac: Yes.
Carrey: Absolutely.
Shadyac: Yes. I think it makes it easier. You know it's a mutual respect and definitely a shorthand. I can just look at Jim, I can look at Jim while we're filming and go, 'We're doing another take, aren't we?' I just look at him or I can tell when he's done. So...
Carrey: Or when I come in with an idea in the morning... Everybody run!!
Shadyac: Oh, I know in the morning, I know what the morning routine is. I know that what we have set up will not be what we do, because Jim will have an idea and so, again, I think we work really well together because I'm not afraid of actions like that. I want to get the best out of this guy. A reporter said to me in an earlier interview, 'This movie couldn't have been made with another actor.' To me that's a compliment because everything is tailor made to his talents.
Carrey: We've had our moments, too. We've had moments on other films and stuff where we just kind of had screaming fits.
Shadyac: We're having one now.

Jim, as a producer do you keep yourself in check a little more because you know you have to control the timeline?
Shadyac: Jim Carrey the producer is much more approachable that Jim Carrey the actor. Jim Carrey the actor needs rest. Jim Carrey the producer likes to move things along.
Carrey: Yeah, but also the idea that we might not get along from time to time, it also shows that we're honest with each. Most of the time it's absolute bliss and total fun and all that stuff, but you can't have a friend without having some conflict. That's what is in the movie, too. But you know, people say, 'Well, are you worried about the idea of a character screaming at God?' and I don't think you can know God unless you are passionate about God, you know? And so you're either screaming at Him or you're enraptured with the idea of being around Him or feeling Him in your life, or something like that. Either one of those two ways you're going to have some kind of contact or something happen. Otherwise I don't think He's interested in people who are half interested.
Shadyac: Yes. A relationship based on honesty and any relationship is going to have...
Carrey: You got to scream.
Shadyac: Yes, you've got to have a moment, and so we've had ours.
Carrey: Remind me, I need to kick the crap out of you.

I wanted to ask you, working with Jennifer Anniston, what was that like and did Brad ever show up any day on the set?
Carrey: You know, he was constantly haranguing me. 'Did you kiss her?' 'Did you kiss her?' 'Did you kiss her?' 'Let me try, man!' No, ah, he came around once or twice. A very nice gentleman. Really cool guy and they're a great couple. Really sweet. And she's tremendous. We worked well off each other because Jennifer is a completely different kind of person than me. I'm a person who just kind of like throws myself out there and does all kinds of wild stuff and she's like the center of the wheel. I'm doing this [wild arm movements going in a circular motion] all the way around her, and she's the type of person that can sit there and allow things to come to her. I seek them out and destroy them. So, you know, it's a wonderful kind of mix. She's very solid and very centered.
Shadyac: Yet they're both cut from the same cloth so there's chemistry-like ability.
Carrey: Yeah, she's a very cool person. She deserves everything she's got. You look at all those magazines and stuff you see her in and you just go, 'Gosh, it's amazing.' Before you know her you go, 'Why are people so interested in this person? They just never seem to get enough of this person,' and then you meet her and you go, 'There's a reason. This is a very cool centered person.' And a lot of times that you meet some people like that you're disappointed at the reality of them. The idea is always better or they're playing an idea. And she's just being herself.
Shadyac: And Brad really isn't that good looking in person. We were both very under-whelmed.
Carrey: Yeah, the double chins.

While filming this movie, there were stories floating around about how you saved Jennifer's life. Did you really rescue Jennifer from a falling crane or was that just another tabloid story that made its rounds?
Shadyac: Oh, we remember that day very well.
Carrey: Well, she had flat-lined. She had flat-lined and I, not knowing CPR of course, was all tongue and Tom said, 'No! Blow air! Blow air, not saliva!'
Shadyac: This is the type of thing he has to deal with. He has to deal with this all the time. I was amazed when we had a windy day essentially what happened. One of the trees blew over on the back lot at Universal. No one was hurt-- no one was close to getting hurt-- but the next day they printed…
Carrey: Well, I did turn and go 'Look out!' That was right on, man.
Shadyac: Yes, yes.
Carrey: Hey whoa, hey look out! That's good.
Shadyac: Amazing step of courage. But somehow that turned into Jim saved everyone's life on the set and um, I support that story. Feel free to spread it over the years.
Carrey: I've saved so many and yet that's what gets printed.

Jim, this movie, like "The Majestic" I think, has unabashed sentimentality. You seemed totally unembarrassed to put your heart on your sleeve and let the world see it. Can you talk about your values as a comic and as an actor? What you see this as saying and what you want to have people leave the theater with when they see a Jim Carrey movie?
Carrey: You know, the wonderful thing about this movie in particular is it has, and we kind of did that with "Liar Liar" too, which is it had a very serious notion underneath it. It was comedic in a way and it allowed me to go incredibly crazy. It allowed me to go off the deep end. But at the same time there were real solid ideas and the question that all of us get to at a certain point, where we're screaming at God in our own way and saying, 'Why? Why? Why are you doing this to me?' It's always us and we always get to a point, hopefully, where we say, 'Oh, okay, that's what I had to learn.' But sometimes it's a long time coming. So it was a nice chance to say that. It was a nice chance to say that and, you know, my values are kind of like Tom's values. We're are spiritual in a sense. He's probably more religious than I am, I don't know. He's much into the documentation of it all. I read it and it goes out my head and I think of it later and think I thought of it. We are very kind of spiritual people and I've always been big about faith. I've always had a major thing about faith. Everything in my life has happened for a reason, a good reason. Generally when I'm on the beam, man, it's like the blessings just come one after another like rain. It's unbelievable when I'm in the right place.

Any particular faith?
Carrey: I believe in zucchinis. I've gone multi-denominational. I've studied a lot of different things and basically I don't know what God is, but I know that He's at least an energy that rules all that walks the earth and I really think there are laws. There are laws and maybe they're within ourselves. I don't know what it is, but I call that God, too.
Shadyac: Welcome to one of our retreats.
Carrey: Yeah, exactly. My interpretation of the secret to life is, don't do anything or try not to do anything that makes you feel like you deserve to lose in life. And be grateful for what you have and a lot of that is in this movie. Be grateful. And protect what you've got that's beautiful, too. You know, if you've got a talent, protect it. Protect the spark.
Shadyac: Actually, that's interesting... I never thought about this, you know, in forethought, but the movie really is kind of a walk. It's kind of a window into who you and I are, because we're...
Carrey: Lovely souls. Lovely, lovely.
Shadyac: Comedy is our roots so obviously when we get together we laugh a lot, Jim, Steve and myself. We laugh a lot. But we're also on this journey, this quest. And I think you see the walk in the movie.

Gentlemen, I wanted to compliment you both...
Carrey: First of all, the gentlemen thing is completely off. Totally wrong.
Okay, you dirty bastards...
Carrey: Okay, thank you.
I wanted to compliment you both on one of the longest sustained laughs I've heard in a movie in a long time.
Carrey: Oh good.
A very pleasant surprise. It shocked me that you weren't the focus of it for the first time in a long time. Was that a...?
Carrey: It was a co-op, yeah. It was a co-op.
Was that a concerted effort to try to effect something like that in one of your films?
Carrey: No, those types of things are you know, you throw it against the wall and those things happen, luckily. But I know the moment you're talking about was Steve Carell, who is hilarious and so good in the film-- in every moment of the film-- and I love funny people, man, you know? So put me with somebody funny and I'll have a great time. I don't care who gets the laugh, and I don't care who gives me the joke. If the gaffer gives us a joke, it's great. Do you know what I mean? It's fantastic. It just makes it funny. And that's all I want. I want the people to leave the theater having had a great old time, whether I got the laugh or someone else did. But he's so funny.
Shadyac: That scene was a surprise to me in editing, because we'd both been a part of set piece scenes where you don't want to be too long and you want it to be cut just right, and the laugh just kept going. It kind of puts people into that happy place and it just keeps going, so we really milked it. But we took it as long as the laughs were coming, and they pretty much go from start to finish in that scene. They worked off of each other.
Carrey: I don't laugh a lot either at my own stuff and stuff like that, but that scene made me laugh.
Shadyac: Yeah, that scene's funny.
Carrey: I laugh at stupid things. I really do.
Shadyac: That's a good example of something that's scripted in one line, you know, 'Bruce messes with Evan,' and these guys, two comedic minds really get together. Steve came up with stuff and then Jim would come up with stuff based on that and give and take and we had a good scene out of it.

Did any names come up in that conversation?
Carrey: I talked to a couple of people from the "Buffalo News" yesterday. It was hilarious, man. Yeah. Growing up in Toronto, you know, the "Buffalo News." 'It's 11 o'clock, do you know where your children are?' You know? It's just fantastic. I loved it. That's the great thing about doing movies, especially if it's like a co-op kind of thing. Everybody can pour their own lives into it. It's great. By the way [noticing his shirt unbuttoning], I'm coming apart. Oooh, I'd like to get naked for you now, if I could.

Jim, your character gets to recreate a wonderful moment from a classic movie in Bruce Almighty. What classic cinema would you like to recreate in your own life?
Carrey: In my own life? Mmm, that's an interesting one. Mmm... in my own life... I guess the chicken scene in "Rebel Without a Cause". Definitely.

As God, Bruce obviously has the ultimate state of control over things. I'm wondering, in your day-to-day life, what are you a complete control freak about and if you could be God for a day, what would you do?
Carrey: I get upset about control over the littlest things. Huge things I let go of control. My career, it's like, whatever, whenever, you know. If it comes it comes, if it doesn't it doesn't, I don't sweat it. It's little things like, you know, like the cap on the toothpaste or whatever. If that doesn't go my way, man, look out! Do you know what I mean? It's like, 'God damn it!' That's when my angst comes out. The little stupid things. The stereo's not working whatever. Huge life things I'm completely cool about. I don't know if that answers your question?
Shadyac: I figured people would be asking that question, but what you see in the movie is kind of our take on that. What we would do if we had the power. I've got a couple of dogs and I don't like them messing in the house, so you see what you see. We all like to get to work on time, we don't like traffic, so Bruce does what he does.
Carrey: Do you know what I would do if I had the power?
Shadyac: Shut me up?
Carrey: No. Make you much more interesting.
Shadyac: Keep in mind I have final cut on the movie and it's not quite finished. Keep talking baby, keep talking.
Carrey: First of all, I'd send anybody who didn't like "The Majestic" to the fiery pit of Hell. And then I'd start a new Utopian society. People made out of Nerf material so that I could cave the critics' heads in and then they would pop right back out. No one would be hurt and I'd get my rocks off. That is, of course, if there was anybody left to start a new society.

You mentioned before that you liked being creative and you don't necessarily want to go on with what people expect of you. People want you to be funny though, so how much of a struggle is it to do something like "Children of the Dust Bowl," which I know has such a great story and something that I think you really could bring something to, but I do wonder if when you walk in the door with that story they'd say, 'No, no you have to be funny.'
Carrey: You know, I've been surprised by how open it's been to the idea of me doing different types of material in the business. I mean, I'm sure a lot of times when the market place is considered, you know, I may not get paid as much to do something that I haven't proven that I'm the king of that genre or whatever that is or however people deal with that kind of stuff. But, you know, I get a lot of chances to do a lot of different things and it just depends on how you do it. How you produce it. How much money you put into and how much I get paid, but it's not a matter of people not believing that I can do it. They consider the market place-- will this draw an audience? It may not, it may. You know, "The Truman Show" did it, "The Majestic" didn't. So it just depends on the material. It really does.

Why that one in particular, "Children of the Dust Bowl?"
Carrey: I think it's a beautiful story and I love stories about teachers. For some reason I can't get enough of those kind of stories. If I turn a movie on about a teacher, I love it. I love that idea of an adult influence on kids and also the idea that those children, the Okies, at that time were considered un-teachable. And this man who considered his life kind of over, Leo Hart, and had decided under his wife's instructions to rest, couldn't find it in himself to do that. He saw a purpose. He saw the reason why you teach laying right in front of him. He couldn't help himself, so he made these kids build their own school and it was a really special thing. Really gave them a sense of pride. I think if people built their own school they wouldn't graffiti it, you know what I mean?

Are you at a point in your life now where you can look at your place and sort of delineate your Hollywood film comedians and, I'm thinking partly because Bob Hope is turning 100, do you allow yourself to see yourself as part of that lineage? Also, do you have any thoughts on some of the comedians that came before you, including Bob Hope?
Carrey: I'm not from your world. To be included in a lineage of people like that-- creative people like that-- would be amazing. I've always been the guy though, honest to God, I mean my career has been a weird kind of like low flying under the radar kind of place. I never made it on "Saturday Night Live" where all my friends did. I was at the Comedy Store getting standing ovations every night but I couldn't find my picture anywhere and this is how it's always been for me. I've had incredible blessings, unbelievable fortitude, and at the same time there is always a balancing factor to my life and generally what it is is you pick up the book on comedians and I'm not in it. And you know, that's okay because I think once that happens you're completely defined and it's all over. Somehow then you're just doing the same thing, people have figured you out and put you on the shelf that suits you. And if I stay kind of obscure, that'd be all right.
Shadyac: Well, allow me to suck up for a moment.
Carrey: Not obscure. Obscure is the wrong word.
Shadyac: Allow me to suck up for a moment.
Carrey: I have been obscure.
Shadyac: I'll just answer this question, not that it was asked of me but I would like to speak to it. I think Jim is arguably the most unique comic we have working in film today. Kind of the Buster Keaton of our generation. Some lights are so bright you can't see them until hindsight, looking back, and I don't want to suck up anymore because I have to work with you again sometime in the future.
Carrey: The turkey's ready.
Shadyac: Okay I'll go on, although it wasn't asked of me.
Carrey: No. Yeah, I don't know, you do the best work that you can, and I love the work and I always concentrated on the work and loved what I did, so, I don't know what happens all around that kind of stuff. Who gets the picture on the wall? Who gets the trophy? Who gets all that stuff? It's not a consideration for me. Some pantheons are for other people, maybe.
Including Bob Hope?
Carrey: Maybe. I don't know. Maybe.

I'd like to follow up on something you said that intrigued me, which was the idea of faith that you have. It is well documented how hard a struggle some parts of your life were growing up, as well as your work because things turned against your family economically, and so I was surprised at the passion that you put into...
Carrey: Don't leave out the sick Mom, though. It's a very important part of the equation.
Carrey: It was so funny because we were taking this picture for the 90th anniversary of Paramount and all of us where on the scaffolding and I was right up the top of the scaffolding, the very top of it, and Tom Cruise turns to me and goes, 'How'd you get up there?' and I said, 'I had the sickest Mom!' That's basically why comedians are born-- generally, sick Moms. You want to make them laugh. You want to make them feel better. And then the economic thing came in. But anyway, go ahead.
In fact you're starting to answer the question already because it's like...
Carrey: I knew it, of course. I'm Bruce Almighty!
Where did that faith come from and was it tested in that period or did it actually strengthen it?
Carrey: Honestly, it came from a-- and maybe this is why I like teachers-- it came from a substitute teacher who came to my classroom. I was in Catholic school and she came to my classroom in grade two for a day. She was an Irish gal, and she said, 'Oooh…[gibberish]……….' Ah, any opportunity I get to go into my accents. No, she said that she prayed to the Virgin Mary whenever she wanted anything in her life to happen or if she wanted even something material, she'd pray to the Virgin Mary to ask God to give it to her and she would promise her something. And I sat at the back of the classroom and I thought, 'Wow, that's sounds kind of cool.' And so I went home and I prayed to the Virgin Mary at night because my father couldn't afford a bike and all my friends had these Mustang bikes and I wanted a Mustang bike, you know, with the banana seat. So I went home and I prayed for this Mustang bike because we couldn't afford a bike. My Dad would say, 'Well, someday..' you know, that kind of thing. And two weeks later-- I walked home from school, walked through my living room and into my bedroom-- my brother came in and said, 'What are you doing? What are doing in here? Come on out… Didn't you see what was in the living room?' So I walked out in the living room and my whole family was standing around a lime green Mustang bike with a banana seat. I had won it in a raffle that I didn't enter. A friend of mine had gone into a sporting goods store that was having this raffle, entered his own name and entered my name separately, two weeks before. And that just went 'poing' and I just went, 'Oh, okay.' I don't necessarily ask for material things anymore or anything like that but-- and it may not be through the Virgin Mary, it may just be straight to God or whatever-- whatever I need, I do that and I have done that my whole life. So yeah, I really believe in it, and I just did "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" back East and we did a scene where I had to be a 10 year, er, like an eight to 10 year old in a memory and it was being erased, and I had to jump on my bike and take off and I showed up on the set and it was a green Mustang bike with a banana seat. And I hadn't told anybody anything, but this is how my life has always been. I'm telling you, if I could document it and I probably should have. You would not believe how amazing my life has been. From the check that I wrote for myself to everything. Everything has had something to do with that power of faith. So, you know, I'm not a Bible thumper, I'm not any of that stuff, but I do believe that the Force is with us.

If you truly could trade places with somebody for a day, who would you choose and why?
Carrey: I would… who would I change places with? My gosh. Well, now that we're on the religious subject-- and this is not an ego thing-- but I'd want to be Jesus for a day. You know, just to see what that was like.
Shadyac: Sunday versus Friday. Sunday would be a good day but Friday would be harder.

You've talked about the influence of teachers on your life, if you had to give up acting would you like to choose teaching as an alternative profession?
Carrey: I think that would be a pretty amazing thing to do with your life, you know? It would be a pretty great thing to do. I don't think they get paid very well, but I mean it's a pretty beautiful thing to do with your life, I think. I had another great teacher too and she never really gets credit a lot of times but I had this teacher in the 7th grade, Lucy Vervadis-- I think she has a new name now, she got married, but I don't know what her new name is-- wonderful, wonderful woman. Anyway, she taught us Beatle lyrics. You know, it's like, 'Today's lesson is "Eleanor Rigby"' and what everything means and breaking it down into what it could mean and double meanings that were possible and all those wonderful things, and she also kind of harnessed my delinquency into a show at the end of each day. She said if I was good and I didn't bother the other students that when I finished my work I would be able to do 15 minutes at the end of the day. So, I would finish my work and instead of bothering everybody, I would write material and I would think about how I was going to skewer the teachers and do whatever. She confiscated a couple of my drawings I did of her. I did caricatures of her at the back of the classroom and she sent them back to me years later once I was known.

Were you ever an alter boy?
Carrey: No I wasn't, thank goodness.

What would you teach if you were able to teach?
Carrey: What would I teach? Sex education. Okay, edit, edit, edit the first three answers. [Laughs] I think humanity. No, probably art. Art would be it. Yeah. It'd be pretty strange, too. Francis Bacon... 'Okay, look kids.'

On another note, how important is music in your life? Are you into more popular music and if you are, what bands?
Carrey: It's nice the way you approached that question, 'On another note...' Yes, I love music. I've always loved music. My father is a sax clarinet player and so we grew up with all the big band stuff playing around the house. Even my daughter is very much into jazz. She comes over to my house and puts Miles Davis on and you know, she's 15 years old, it's ridiculous, you know? So she knows more about it than I do. And when she'd visit me in New York we'd go to the Lenox Lounge in Harlem and watch jazz players and stuff, which is cool because at this point I get to do the same thing my dad did for me, which was, when I was 15 I was into comedy so he used to take me downtown to Yuk Yuks which was on Church Street at that time. It's like two lanes of a bowling alley with like 100 tragically hip people basically cursing everyone on stage, and he used to take me there, when I was 15 years old and I was like, 'Oh, I can't believe I'm here', and now I get to do it back. It's kind of wonderful. But musically, I like everything. I like some of the hip-hop stuff that's happening. I like anything that's kind of like an honest to goodness expression, you know? Like Missy Elliott. I think she's cool.
Shadyac: He likes "The Vines."
Carrey: Ah, "The Vines." "The Vines" are great. A lot of the new stuff, it's good.
What was the last CD you bought?
Carrey: Last CD? Oh, the last CD I bought was the "White Stripes." Very cool. Very oddly wonderfully complexly crude. Great. I love it.
Why them?
Carrey: I like girls and boys together. Reminds me of the Partridge Family.

Jim, you mentioned you've had this under the radar kind of career, and during these past couple of weeks as I've been flipping through the channels I've seen you in "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "Once Bitten", a movie I never saw in the theaters. You were the lead in that. What do you think when you look back and see those types of movies before Jim Carrey was really Jim Carrey?
Carrey: Oh, it's interesting to look back. I mean, geez, it's just desperation, total desperation. But that hasn't changed that much. It's just fun to watch it because, as I said, I've always been in this wonderful place. I'm not saying it's a bad place to be under the radar-- it's a wonderful place actually, not to be the person that everybody plays out until they get tired of them and don't want them anymore. I like to be a nice hors d'ouvres or something like that. Just something that you just like all the time. Just whenever it comes out it's kind special and that's cool. In "In Living Color" I was fortunate enough to have a vehicle where I didn't play a character that was one thing all the time, so that I became that character. The Comedy Store I got known for doing impressions and so I stopped doing that because I saw where it was leading. Because I did that I was able to excel to another level without being known as the comic impressionist. It was weird because in Toronto, that was what I was when I started out, right? I was going to be the next Rich Little.
The variety club luncheon.
Carrey: Yes, it's amazing. So, I don't know if that answers your question, but I like the pocket I'm in. It's a good place. It's a place that feels like it's not tired, you know?

Back to "Bruce Almighty" for a second, for the DVD, how involved were you guys in it? Did you do a commentary?
Shadyac: Well, we're going to get involved. It hasn't been done yet but actually we started talking about it very, very early on in the movie. We decided early that because we have all these choices that we didn't use, I could cut three, five, 10 other movies together with the choices that we have.
Carrey: We've got to put the falling out of the airplane on the DVD.
Shadyac: Yes, there's whole bits that are not in the movie.
Carrey: There is a shot that we did of me falling out of this airplane, doing a...
Shadyac: Another news story. He discovered Big Foot and it kind of got cut.
Carrey: Yeah, right. And so I'm falling out of this airplane and we had this special effects guy with a gun, with a pipe...
Shadyac: Air gun.
Carrey: ... that shot air, like at a fierce rate, into my mouth, so my mouth is literally this big. It's going 'halulululula' and just the whole time I'm speaking, you see my whole skeleton under there. It's really frightening. And when they said cut, all this stuff went off and the fans and everything shut down and I couldn't see anybody because everybody was on the floor just losing their minds. But it didn't fit in the movie so...
Shadyac: Didn't fit.
Carrey: It's got to be somewhere.
Shadyac: Yeah, we'll put stuff like that on the DVD and the other choices that you didn't get to see. There's a ton of scenes that we'll put on too that have laughs but didn't quite fit in the rhythm.

Is the DVD a comic's salvation then because your material can still be savored later on?
Carrey: It's kind of nice to be able to see that other stuff.
Shadyac: Yeah.
Carrey: To show some things that didn't fit in the puzzle maybe. It's given us a lot of good options.
Shadyac: Yeah. It's actually really cool. I mean, it is another point of interest and people are fascinated by what made it or didn't make it. We have scenes from "Ace Ventura," the original "Ace Ventura," and we weren't doing that. DVD didn't exist then. But we have, I can remember scenes that we took out of the original "Ace," [turns to Jim] remember the contact lens, when one guy came after Ace in a bar...
Carrey: I take out a contact lens and go [screech-- like nails on a chalkboard].
Shadyac: It's scenes like that. I wish we had the DVD back then. Funny stuff.

Really quickly before you go, can you talk a little more about "Eternal Sunshine" and working with Charlie Kaufman?
Carrey: Oh, it's wonderful, wonderful material. Amazing. I felt so lucky to be part of that.
Shadyac: Did you scream at him?
Carrey: Huh?
Shadyac: Never mind.
Carrey: Oh yeah. No, Michel Gondry is brilliant. All the special effects were done in camera. It's a really interesting project. Really, really cool.
And you play all ages in the memory?
Carrey: Yeah. Well, we kind of, it's me, but I got kids clothes on or whatever.

What about the future? Would you ever go back and film a movie in Toronto?
Carrey: Absolutely. Immediately. I would do that anytime.
Even with this recent SARS hysteria thing?
Carrey: I got stuff that they'd have to worry about. No, I don't worry about that kind of stuff.

I have to ask you before you go, what do you think of this "Dumb and Dumber" sequel [Ed. Note: It's a "Prequel"] coming out they made without you and Jeff Daniels?
Carrey: I don't know, I've never seen it. I have no idea what it is like. I wish them luck with it, but I've got a lot of people coming up to me thinking I'm in it. A little sin of omission there. They did a lot of campaigning without saying who was in it or whatever, so I don't know if they kind of mislead people in that way.

And finally, after working with such great directors as Milos Forman and Ron Howard, would you ever want to direct in the future?
Carrey: Maybe sometime.
Shadyac: I can answer that question [laughs].

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