Jim Carrey The Majestic

Jim Carrey The Majestic


Jim Carrey/The Majestic Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.

For a decade, 39-year old Jim Carrey has made audiences laugh hysterically, but beneath that often-rubbery clown-like exterior is a dramatic actor and a thoughtful human being. In his latest film, The Majestic, Carrey is at his best as an ambitious Hollywood screenwriter in 50s America who finds himself in small town USA with amnesia and the chance for a second life, in this gentle tribute to Frank Capra's idealistic Hollywood. Carrey is not one to do interviews, but agreed to attend the press junket for the film. In a frank discussion, Carrey talks dating, success, Oscars and comedy, to PAUL FISCHER.

It's hard to know when to take Jim Carrey seriously. The usual publicity shy actor was all smiles when he confronted the press to talk about his dramatic turn in The Majestic, a film that brings a quaintly Capraesque quality to a cynical Hollywood. Yet in its throwback to the old-fashioned dream factory, Carrey delivers a boyish grin when recalling his initial love of the magic of cinema, a recurring theme in The Majestic. "Ah, I fell in love with the movies from the first movie I saw in the theatre which was The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes with Kurt Russell," he says laughingly. Actually he adds, more reflectively, he really "loved Jimmy Stewart movies from the word go and you know, Jerry Lewis and I had a psychic sense. For me, movies are just this amazing place to escape and you know if anybody needs escape it's people hanging out up in the cold!" More laughter, yet there is a distinct irony about his love of Jimmy Stewart. In The Majestic, he gets to plays a modern day Everyman, a Jimmy Stewart for a new generation, but Carrey won't be drawn on the obvious comparisons. Rather, he sees The Majestic as "a sweet kind of having heroes, even if they are not real. So much of what we've done in the last ten years is to kind of turn over everything and see the seething underbelly of whatever and whoever, but the fact is if you do that, you'll be left with nothing to look up to and we NEED to believe that these heroes exist."

Carrey recalls being 8 years old when he first dreamed of following in the footsteps of his own cinematic heroes. "It probably happened before that though because I was doing shows since age 5. I didn't know where it was going to go or necessarily that it would manifest itself in the movies. I just knew that I needed a lot of attention from a lot of people and I needed to prove to the world that I was magic. That was the underlying factor in everything and the underlying reason why I do this," Carrey confesses, smilingly.

Attention seeking he may have been, but Carrey delighted to go to comic extremes when he broke out as Ace Ventura. Long wanting to be taken seriously more as actor than comic, Carrey previous attempts at 'going softer' with The Truman Show and Man in the Moon, still failed to gain respect from his peers, in the form of a still conservative Motion Picture Academy. Yet he insists he has no ill feelings towards the Academy. "I have so much in my life and so many blessings, so I could never ever put myself in that place. I do what I love to do, get to tell great stories and I get to work with the best people. It's so diverse this trip I've fallen into where I can go from The Grinch to the Majestic and The Truman Show, to Me Myself and Irene and to whatever else, that it is like a gift; I don't know anybody else who has it so I feel tremendously lucky. My life is not about awards or money or any of that, because I've examined those things and that's not important to me. You know when the money and all of 'that' started happening and I started saying to myself: Is this why you do this? Do you want to be famous or do you want to ---? I mean I have enough money to live forever, over and over again."

Carrey finally feel that he is in the right creative place in his life, and that a film such as The Majestic, has allowed him to remain the most real. His character is far more reactive than any of his predecessors as Carrey explains, "I'd say this is my least controlled performance, because generally the other things I've done have been 'doing' a lot of stuff to get attention and to affect something happening. This one was so important for me to trust that there was enough there." Carrey concedes that "it was very confronting and I was very uncomfortable with it a lot of the time. I had Frank [Darabont, director] coming in saying: No, it IS enough. It IS real. I come from a world where you know basically you're not doing anything unless you're risking your life on the set and this was more about: How does this person make you feel? Don't TELL us how it makes you feel, just feel it and trust that it's going to be picked up somehow."
One of the major plot lines of The Majestic has Carrey's amnesiac screenwriter forge a relationship with a man claiming to be his father. It afforded Carrey the opportunity to work with Oscar winning legend Martin Landau who Carrey says reminded him of his own father. "I used to look at my father and watch him tell a story, sit back and say: God, he's a cartoon. And Martin can be so subtle and at the other end can be the most insane maniac that you've ever seen in your life. He can choose anything. He has a lot of weapons you know and that was wonderful to be around." Carrey adds that he learned a lot from his own father. "Right from the beginning I used to look up to my dad as more energy than anything and it was an energy that I wanted. He walked into a room and people felt like they knew him after 5 minutes like they've known him for 50 years and THAT'S what I've always been after."
As successful as he may be, Carrey waxes lyrical when it comes to discussing the effects of that success on his love life, or lack thereof. He has no idea whether his private life has suffered as a result of his ever-burgeoning success. "Not because of my CAREER necessarily. Maybe I focus a lot on that so that becomes the driving force. I don't know what the answer to relationship is. I know that I am basically a very simple guy who values a real relationship." At present, Carrey says that he is "having fun dating. I don't have a steady, but it's still okay and cool." Carrey is unconcerned as to whether or not women are attracted to Carrey the man or the image that he projects. "I don't spend a lot of my life trying to figure out what people's intentions are; I let THEM screw up. If I meet somebody who comes at me with a friendly face and it is not a friendly face, then ultimately that's their hell. I try to trust people right out of the gate and that's just how I approach it. Otherwise, you get completely paranoid and end up in a room growing your fingernails," he concludes laughingly.

Carrey has time to let those fingernails grow; yet as he nears the big 40, Carrey is always the philosopher when finally discussing his fears of growing older. "You know it's a weird thing, in that I'm going through a lot of stuff right now; I get freaked out about the whole age thing. It's the William Holden line in 'Network': 'For me, death has become a real thing with definable features.' You go there some moments and some moments you feel like a baby. You feel like a child who's just been born and you know that's what life is and it's never one thing. You know I can never say: Yes I'm happy, yes I'm sad, yes I'm whatever. I'm always everything. That's what's confusing about these kinds of things because, really, what we're playing at is trying to define a person by this moment where we're sitting together and talking and you can't."

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