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23 On The Set18 Feb 2007
By TNPihl (JCO Editor-In-Chief)
Since obsession with the number 23 forms the backbone of the film, it only seems logical that some of that obsession would spill over to the production itself. In fact, members of the cast and crew seemed to be aware of the presence of 23 in just about everything they were doing.
"Everybody was coming up all the time and asking ‘Did you hear what added up to 23 today?’" says Jim Carrey. "There was always something, everybody got into it. That’s what I hope for people when they leave the theater, that they kind of start looking around and find those things. I’m really drawn to movies that are about more than just the plot itself. Movies that somehow capture a social phenomenon like Jaws captured our fear of the ocean, our fear of the unknown in sharks. I think this movie captures a real phenomenon that’s going on out there. The 23 enigma is everywhere, and this movie puts its finger on that."
Carrey and the rest of the team became well versed in the 23 mythology.
© New Line Cinema
"In life, 23 seems to be attached to a lot of different things – good and bad," notes Carrey. "You’ve got Michael Jordan and LeBron James, who both wear number 23. David Beckham just changed his number to 23. Then you’ve got O.J. Simpson, the infamous athlete who wore 32 – 23 reversed. You’ve also got Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, whose names combined have 23 letters. It just goes on and on. It’s everywhere."
But not everybody was quick to get caught up in the symbolism of the number on set. Schumacher found himself debunking superstitions as quickly as people were discovering them.
"I try not to get caught up in it anymore, because when we were making the film, the cast and crew became so obsessed with the number," says the director. "People’s children, the internet, it becomes this every day thing. Somebody would look at the slate and we’re doing the 23rd take of the 23rd scene, and it happens to be February 23rd. Then everybody goes, ‘No way…’ and nothing happens. You do take 23 or not, and then you go on. But the cameras didn’t explode, we didn’t win a million dollars in the lottery. Nothing happened except that it was the 23rd take on the 23rd day – oooohhh."
Schumacher continues, "I do have my own superstitions, and there were some things that happened on the movie with 23’s. But maybe if we were making a movie called ‘Twenty-Eight,’ that would have happened also. I don’t know."
Even Virginia Madsen, who was initially a skeptic, began to notice strange coincidences. "My mother bought a new place, and the address has the number 23 on it. Then a parking space that was assigned to me was number 23. And when Jim and I filmed a scene in a car on a flatbed, every time we went to the beginning of the shot we found ourselves on 32nd St. Jim is so satisfied when it happens, but I try my best not to pay attention. I’ve decided it’s just too haunting."
© New Line Cinema
Whatever people’s feelings were about the 23 phenomenon, Jim Carrey points out that all the conjecture made for an interesting shoot. "What’s really fun about this whole concept of the 23 is that it taps into this need people have to believe in magical things," he says.
Magic or not, the 23 enigma is sure to capture the attention of audiences. But at the end of the day, "The Number 23" is about much more than just numerology.
"I don’t know about any enigmas. I wanted to tell a story and I thought this is a damn good story to tell," says Schumacher. "If people want to see this movie just as a thriller, that’s fine with me. But I think there are many other elements to it. It’s essentially a film about responsibility because I believe in that very strongly. I think we have to take responsibility for everything we have done, and I think when we avoid that it can be like a disease, like a physical disease of the soul."
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