Jim Carrey: From his first memories of doing impersonations to the last 10 minutes of his life | Inquirer Entertainment
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Jim Carrey: From his first memories of doing impersonations to the last 10 minutes of his life

By: - Columnist
/ 12:40 AM March 06, 2020


(First of two parts)

LOS ANGELES—Talking to Jim Carrey is one fascinating, existentialist trip. Behind the comic is an intelligent, sensitive man with many artistic passions. He is an actor, of course, but he is also a writer, painter, political cartoonist, sculptor, poet, puppeteer and Lord knows what else.


At 58, the Ontario, Canada, native is still at the peak of his creative energy. He plays Dr. Ivo Robotnik in the new hit movie, “Sonic the Hedgehog.” He stars in the TV series, “Kidding,” for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination.


In May, he will release his book, “Memoirs and Misinformation.” The multitalented performer split with his girlfriend, Fil-Am actress Ginger Gonzaga, last year.

Excerpts from our chat:

Did Jeff Fowler, the director of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” ask you to tap your full range of “elastic” style?

First of all, I never look back. There’s a giant cake wedge of my brain that is silly and likes to have fun. So, when a script finds me, when I get the opportunity and license to do that, it’s like somebody opening up the corral and letting the mustang run.

I love doing it, but I always live in the moment. So, there was a script and there was guidance. And sometimes there was just, “Jim does something here (laughs).” What ended up invariably happening day-to-day is that I would get there and I would have 20 ideas from the night before. I would dream up a few, then I had something over breakfast happen.

If I can’t remember them, then I would tag them up all over the studio on little cards and whatever. It really is just a potpourri of constant creativity. So, if you drilled down and looked at the original script, there’s probably not too many words that ended up in the movie that were there to begin with. So, it was a creative place and Jeff let me just run.


How much fun did you have playing Dr. Ivo Robotnik?

It’s just absolutely no-holds-barred fun. These are the things I put out in the universe. I’m always looking for different experiences and also to reconnect with an audience that just wants something absurd.

To be playing this crazy character is a joy. But at the same time, I get to ground him in something real. What works about the movie is that Sonic is a manifestation of absolute innocence and playful, electric, joyful, childlike fun.

I always say that Robotnik has a Sonic-shaped hole in his heart, like a lot of important so-called intelligent people walking around. Robotnik needs to own that, but he can never do it, he can never actually own it. So, it’s a very simple story, like “High Noon” or something (laughs).

But it means something, and it actually touches you at certain times in the movie when it hits on themes of friendship and loneliness. And yet I get to play a megalomaniac, which is a wonderful reason to get out of bed.

When you play a villain like Dr. Robotnik, do you anchor him in reality?

You have to find yourself in every character, no matter what you’re playing. If you are a murderer, you have to find the murderer in you. You have to find part of him that wants to be noticed, seen, admired.

I can understand self-loathing because I have been through moments of it where you reach outside yourself to create things, as avatars of yourself in order to impress people. But now, it’s just more about creating. Things have just bubbled up over the edges in every direction. I found myself this year not only doing the part in “Sonic,” which I loved, but the TV show and producing.

I understand megalomania. I understand wanting to be thought of as the smartest person in the room. Also, they’re all parts of myself. I see Sonic as myself, too.

In “Sonic … ,” you are back with the kind of crazy characters that moviegoers love and miss seeing you in. How much did you resist going back playing these wacky characters?

There’s always a choice of doing something, whether you think it’s good enough or not, where you think it rises to the level of excellence. This was a perfect character to bring that out again. I just follow my muse. So, if three serious movies happened to me, it’s because there was something in me that the director or the script found.

I find that the parts find me. I had an appetite for it obviously and when I get an appetite for something, it generally happens in some form or another. I feel like it found me at the perfect time. Also, I needed to laugh myself. I had done some very serious work and I suffered through much of the grief that was necessary to do the “Kidding” part.

I needed to have some fun. People have been dragged down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench for three years [of the Trump admiration]. People really need to laugh. They need to think of something simple and basic, because basic is friendship, just something basic that they can put their eye on and say there’s still something good here. They don’t have to be sucked into the vortex of the writer, the laugh or whatever it is.

Somebody convinced us that. If I could turn anything around at all, it would be the belief that disagreement is hatred. Somehow, the misinformation, the political interests in the country, found a way to convince people that disagreement is hatred. And I just want to give people a break (laughs).

Jim Carrey in “Sonic the Hedgehog” —PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Your new book, “Memoirs and Misinformation,” will be out on May 7. Can you talk about it?

I believe all memoirs are a mixture of fiction and reality (laughs). At the very least, memoirs are a reordering of the events of someone’s life in order to make them entertaining, palatable and, in most cases, to expand their brand. That isn’t what this book is about. I’m fairly sure that when you read this book, you will be absolutely positive that I wasn’t attempting to expand my brand.

In fact, if anything, the book ends the world for people, if only for a moment. Ultimately, somewhere in the basement of our consciousness, all of us yearn for our own absence and to be freed from concern for this individual, this little thing that’s fighting in the world. So, it’s about wholeness, absurd treatment of celebrity and persona and I rip myself to pieces.

You’ll learn more about me by reading this book than you could ever learn about me by an accounting of the facts and events. It’s a wild one. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

(Conclusion on Sunday)

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TAGS: Jim Carrey, Sonic the Hedgehog

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