“Failure taught me that failure isn’t the end unless you give up!”, non è difficile immaginare che una frase del genere sia stata ispirata a Jim Carrey dalle proprie esperienze personali. Chi cede all’arrendevolezza non sopravvive a Hollywood. E se Jim Carrey si fosse arreso alle prime difficoltà, a Hollywood non ci avrebbe mai messo piede, nemmeno da turista.
Figlio di Percy e di Kathleen Carrey, Jim è nato a Newmarket, non lontano da Ottawa, la sua famiglia è cattolica e ha radici francesi (il loro cognome originario era Carré).
L’adolescenza dell’attore infatti è stata segnata dall’improvviso tracollo finanziario della famiglia: il padre, che aveva abbandonato il sogno di diventare un sassofonista proprio per assicurare ai suoi la stabilità economica, perse il lavoro a cinquantadue anni. Questo tragico evento costrinse la famiglia Carrey a trasferirsi nei sobborghi di Toronto e per un certo periodo visse addirittura in un furgone Volkswagen parcheggiato nel giardino di un parente. Ormai sedicenne Jim dovette abbandonare gli studi dopo aver cercato invano di conciliare la scuola con turni di lavoro da otto ore per portare a casa qualche soldo.
In quel periodo inizia a lavorare come attore comico nei club della sua città, imitando personaggi famosi. L’accoglienza del pubblico, inizialmente, è piuttosto tiepida, ma l’attore dice che questa gavetta gli è servita moltissimo per apprendere le tecniche di recitazione comica e per affinare il suo talento, cosa che l’ha aiutato a diventare, in seguito, l’attore comico più pagato di Hollywood.
Ma come agli inizi della sua carriera il pubblico non capiva la sua comicità, oggi lo stile inconfondibile di Jim Carrey non è apprezzato dalla critica, che ne ha spesso parlato male e non gli ha mai conferito alcun premio Oscar (anche se l’attore ha collezionato diversi altri riconoscimenti importanti, tra cui due Golden Globe).
Negli anni Ottanta inizia a lavorare per la televisione e per il cinema, interpretando ruoli più o meno importanti nelle sit-com e nei b-movie.
Il successo di pubblico arriva nel 1994 con il film Ace Ventura: l’acchiappanimali, in cui interpreta uno strampalato detective specializzato nel recupero di animali smarriti. Sono dello stesso anno anche The Mask, in cui interpreta il ruolo di un impiegato di banca fallito che, indossata una maschera magica, si trasforma in un essere con la faccia verde ed enormi dentoni, e Scemo e più scemo, in cui l’attore è sempre a suo agio nel ruolo del completo deficiente. L’anno successivo esce Ace Ventura: missione Africa che va ricordato perlomeno per la scena in cui l’attore, durante una raffinata festa aristocratica, dopo aver dato spettacolo di sé sbeffeggiando una nobildonna che ostentava un collo di pelliccia, si ricopre il viso con degli ortaggi presi da un vassoio di cibo.
Il talento di Jim Carrey, che la maggior parte della critica si ostinava a bollare come un pagliaccio, trova la consacrazione nell’interpretazione in The Truman Show (1998), in cui interpreta un uomo che fin dalla nascita è inconsapevolmente il protagonista di un programma televisivo, il primo e vero e proprio Grande Fratello dopo Orwell. Il film gli è valso il Golden Globe come attore protagonista.
A The Truman Show possono essere affiancati (per affinità di contenuti e di interpretazione) altri due film: Man on the Moon (1999) e The Majestic.
Per aggiudicarsi il ruolo di Andy Kaufman (da sempre l’idolo di Carrey) in Man on the Moon, Jim ha sgominato la concorrenza grazie a una stupefacente esibizione con le congas, alla maniera del famoso comico.
Man on the Moon racchiude in sé tutte le sfumature del dualismo artistico di Carrey: il lato comico, basato su un’inedita miscela di grottesco e demenziale che coglie lo spettatore di sorpresa (caratteristici anche di Kaufman), e quello drammatico, basato su una assoluta immedesimazione nel personaggio (Carrey era Kaufman, era Tony Clifton durante le riprese di quel film), legati insieme da una mimica e una gestualità disarmanti. L’omaggio di Carrey a Andy Kaufman è stato premiato con un Golden Globe come miglior attore protagonista. Non l’Oscar però, che andò a Kevin Spacey.
In The Majestic, Jim Carrey è uno sceneggiatore che perde la memoria dopo un incidente e si ricostruisce una nuova vita in una cittadina californiana, dove viene scambiato per un eroico soldato che non aveva fatto ritorno dalla guerra.
L’ultimo film di rilievo di Carrey è The Eternal Sunshine of the Spootless Mind. Joel (Jim Carrey) e Clementine (Kate Winslet) si amano alla follia, ma la loro relazione è messa a dura prova dai loro gusti troppo lontani. Quando decidono di lasciarsi, Clementine prende la drastica decisione, all'insaputa di Joel, di far ricorso alla Lacuna Inc, una società in grado di cancellare dalla sua mente tutti i ricordi relativi alla storia d’amore conclusa.
Joel scopre cosa ha fatto Clementine, e decide di sottoporsi a sua volta al trattamento. Quando la cura è già iniziata, senza possibilità di fermarla, Joel capisce di amare troppo Clementine, e di non volerla cancellare. Inizia una corsa contro il tempo nella mente di Joel, che fugge attraverso diversi ricordi per poter salvare la memoria dell'amata.
La maggior parte del film si svolge nella mente di Joel, che, insieme a Clementine, vive tutti i ricordi di due anni di relazione, cercando di nascondersi ai tecnici della Lacuna Inc in ricordi che non si collegano a Clementine, per poter salvare il ricordo di lei, per poter cercare di ricominciare la storia una volta terminata l’opera di pulitura.
How did you get the role in Eternal Sunshine?
I don’t remember. Someone gave me the script and I read it and I thought it was incredible and I couldn’t believe that I was being offered [this]. So, I was just very, very happy. It’s one of those things, you sit back. I read that and I had this guilty feeling of, like, how’d I get this one and Truman Show, man? Two very interesting and original movies. I’m really happy about it. It’s great to be a part of and the cast is amazing. It’s unbelievable on many levels.
Is there anything that’s an inspiration for you as far as films in the past or favourite romantic scenes?
Just in my life, you know? Movies are great but I think the real romance happens, like, right here somewhere. [He points to his nose.] Like real close up. To me, this part, I couldn’t really have done it if I hadn’t been through a lot, one way or another. Either you’re the one erasing or you’re the one being erased. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
Everyone has memories of a relationship gone sour. How have you dealt with that?
A lot of conversations with myself. Summations. “Okay, and that is my final word on the subject! And another thing!” And that kind of thing goes on for a while, and then generally I forgive and move on and look at the world as a beautiful place again sooner or later. I think that’s kind of what the real magic is. The thing about this movie is, you accept the flaws, you accept what was wrong, and you love the person for who they are, flaws and all. And you can’t help who you love. It comes from a different part of your brain than the logic part that tells you: “This person is horrible for you; you should walk away”. So, while you’re walking away, the other part of your brain is trying to gain control of your bodily functions. “Turn around. She’s the one!”
Based on my own relationships, the idea of erasing someone from my brain is extremely appealing.
Of course! Especially in the moment when you’re going through something and you’re thinking, ‘I don’t need this. I don’t need to live in fight or flight response. Let this go.’ But, in retrospect, it always seems to work out that you can look back on something that was a disaster and find some gems in there.
What childhood memory or love would you never erase?
I would never tell you.
But thank you.
The best part?
Well, that would entail me opening up the most crucial intimacy of my life and I can’t do that. Sorry.
I read that you might be interested in taking the role of Tiny Tim.
Oh, really? Oh my God, that’s hilarious. That’s too funny. I have never heard that one. But, you know, I am looking for celebrity kind of autobiographical or biographical material. Especially people who are that deep.
It’s clear that these types of conversations come so easily to you. What’s it like to play a humourless character?
He’s not a humourless character at all. I think Joel has immense and amazing things going on inside his brain that spill out on to his page when he’s doing his diaries and things like that. And when Clementine comes by, she’s kind of like the outward manifestation of what he has inside himself, that he can’t express. So, I don’t think he’s humourless or uninteresting. I think he’s really complex.
You have wonderful chemistry with Kate Winslet. How was working with her?
Well, I get excited when the people I work with scare me. I mean, she’s just scary talented. An amazing actress… actor, whatever you call them these days. [Makes a crazy noise.] Let’s just make up a new one. I get excited when I’m gonna be surrounded by people who make me better and make me stay on my game and challenge me, so she’s wonderful to watch, unbelievable. You sometimes don’t know what she’s doing when you’re in the scene with her and then you look at it later and she just knows what’s gonna come off…
You go into your childhood in the movie. Which place would you like to see again?
Well, what was interesting during the movie is that the psychic things were happening. And of course I was pouring a lot of whatever I’ve gone through into as much as I could. But, things like, when I was in the second grade, I had a teacher who came into school, and she was this Irish lady and said, “If I pray to the Virgin Mary, I ask her for anything I want and she gives me anything I want”. And I’m sitting in the back of the class going, “Hmmm. Sounds good”. So I went home and I prayed to the Virgin Mary for a bicycle, for a green Mustang bike. And two weeks later, I won a green Mustang bike in a raffle I didn’t enter… A friend of mine put my name into a sporting goods store and I won the bike. And, that bike showed up in the movie without me even trying. In the scene where the rain starts and I start trying to bring her back to when I grew up in the memories. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is a big thing for me, too. I have it in the cement at Mann’s Chinese Theatre. So, I used to sing that on my Aunt’s porch when it rained and watch the squirrels scatter. Isn’t this a homey and nice story? It’s like a fireside chat. Yep, that’s how it is at Camp Wobagon. [LAUGHS] The Mustang bike, when it showed up that day, I was so excited. Because this is how my life is. It just is like, “Wow. Okay, so I’m going back in my past and here’s the Mustang bike. Green, everything, the whole thing was exactly the bike I had”. And I didn’t do that, nothing to do with it. So, I got to speed off on my Mustang bike from memories past. It was just happening, that stuff.
Did you get to keep the prop?
No, I didn’t. I have a Harley.
I was wondering, with your dramatic movies, they’ve all been about memory. Truman is a false memory, Majestic is a lost memory. So I was wondering, why do you choose films with this similar element?
Well, you know, the truth be told, that didn’t even occur to me when I read this script. It wasn’t about memory, it was about being erased. It was a different perspective of it. It was about how it would feel to be erased. That was the strongest pull for me. That’s a heavy feeling. And that’s what hits me with the script is when he finds out that she’s erased him. It’s just a brutal thing to probably anybody’s ego, but a male ego especially. And I loved the idea that the memories went in reverse. There were so many things that made it different than your normal “losing your memory” movie. I love the clunky, sci-fi aspect of this movie. It doesn’t take it over, it’s just a function within it. It’s kind of interesting. I don’t have any big, blacked out moments of my life that I would identify with that. I liked that this was by choice. Valentine’s Day. I would have worn the steps down a couple of years. I would have been waiting outside a couple of years. I would have been, “Please. Can you open up early? Lacuna, help me!”.
Some people have started to make the comparison between the “goofy” Jim Carrey role and the “serious” Jim Carrey role.
It’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Let’s face it. I just, honestly, they just come as they come. And when something like this comes by, you just jump on, and that’s all there is to it. There’s no question about it. I mean, anybody would be lucky to be a part of this. What was interesting was that part of the aspect of doing this role is that you have to open up old wounds. I was ecstatic and happy and joyful when I went to New York and then I had to peel the scabs off and go, “Oh yeah, I remember that”. You know? It opened me up. I also wanted to express a lot of old hurts past and things like that. And what ended up happening, and I’m really glad, is that it became like a love letter. So, I was saved from myself. A love letter to everyone I’ve loved.
Todd Phillips told us that you brought him the property of Six Million Dollar Man.
I am bionic.
Well, that’s a sensitive organ. They’re working on that one. Is it ready yet? You probably shouldn’t even report on this yet, because I don’t know if it’s gonna happen yet because it’s not that far down the line. We’re developing that script, so I think that’s going to be a whole lot of fun. I love playing ego and insecurity combined. Well, it’s the same thing, I guess. Ego out of control. But I think it’s just going to be fun. Six million dollars doesn’t get you a lot in this world these days, so, you can kind of imagine where the plot’s gonna go.
In a sense, this movie is about the tension between wanting to erase the bad things that happen to us and hold on to them because the willingness to fail again is what makes us human. Do you think that’s an internal tension between us?
I think quick fixes are big, for sure. I think we’re all erasing things every morning when we go to Starbucks. You know what I mean? We’re all just, “Arrgghhh. It can’t come up again. Don’t let it come up again”. We suppress. We don’t completely erase. But, I think we would in the moment. We would definitely choose that a lot of the time when we’re on our knees screaming at God.
What do we lose by encouraging those things?
Well, you make the same mistakes over and over again. Not that you wouldn’t anyway. But, I think there’s beautiful moments, even if you have... People expect these days, everybody expects that fairytale. You’re going to be together forever with somebody. I don’t really subscribe to that. I’d love that to happen if that happened, but ten years is enough. Ten years is a good thing with somebody. It’s a nice thing. A lot of good love can happen in ten years.
How was working with Michel [Gondry, the director]? Obviously he’s known as a visualist. How is he at working with actors?
Michel, he’s just a creative genius, I think. People haven’t really discovered him on a mass level yet, but he comes in every day with something that just kind of spins you around and you go, ‘Wow, somebody’s thinking, man. This is great, you know? Somebody’s bringing something to the table. He comes in and asks me to do things that are impossible. There’s a scene in the movie where I come into the Lacuna in my memory and I’m screaming at the doctor and I’m in two different places in the scene. It’s not split screen. It’s not any of that. It’s Michel coming in saying, [imitating Michel’s French accent] ‘You’re going to run around the camera and you’re going to put the hat on and take it off and put it on and take it off.’ So that’s me going back and forth behind the camera, behind the handheld camera, in the dark, with a dresser, going [He jumps up for a second]. I’m not kidding. That’s what was happening in that scene. And it was just, ‘How quickly can you run through the dark, get a jacket and a hat on and then completely change your attitude to the person on the other side of the room?’ I argued with them. I said, ‘This can’t be done. I can’t do this. It’s impossible.’ And he said, [imitating Michel’s French accent again] ‘Well, how do you know if you don’t try?’
Can you talk a little bit about the challenges and the rewards of a Charlie Kaufman script?
Oh my Gosh. Well, you know, it’s like Moses coming down from the mountain with the tablets. Every time he has a script, all of Hollywood goes, “It’s heeeeere!”. He’s just so rock n’ roll at the same time that he’s a complete intellectual. This movie has everything going, so when I read the script, first of all, I was just happy to be a small part of his legacy, because I know this is going to be one hell of a legacy at the end of all of his creative madness. But this script is everything. Most of the time he stays in this wild, intellectual world. And this one just has such an anchor of heart. It’s something we can all identify with on an emotional level, so it’s got everything going at the same time. I feel like I won the lottery.
And the challenges?
Major challenges as far as knowing where you are in this script. When you’re going through the memories, are you lucid in the memories? I was constantly [saying], “Michel, please tell me, in my language?” He was hard to understand sometimes, Michel. During the whole Iraq thing he was calling himself French Toast and stuff. “Just call me French Toast.” The challenges were, you know, “Michel, where are we? Are we lucid in this dream, or this memory rather? Is this memory the way it was or has it been guilded in retrospect?”. It was fascinating.
Whenever you’re on a talk show, you are very funny. I’ve also noticed that you’re like a great audience for the host. You laugh at the host’s jokes.
I like people. They’re entertaining. I just may laugh at different things than most people. I laugh at mistakes. I laugh at how you recover from mistakes. I see when people go off their material and it’s actually happening in front of you and that excites me. That kind of stuff excites me. I’ve been doing Lemony Snicket, just recently, and there’s so much opportunity in that. Brad’s (director Brad Silberling) been kind of turning the camera on and letting me have fun. I play an actor, so I get to make fun of myself. I created a technique called “Bacting”, by the way. For people who have to work in the round. I’ve had so much fun with it. I love spontaneity. When I see it’s spontaneity and I know it’s spontaneity, it makes me happy. I don’t know why. I think it’s like looking at a child or something. When you look at a kid and they’re completely involved in something, it’s entertaining to watch. I think that’s the Misner technique I laid out there.
The movies you’re making now are certainly not the same films you were making five or seven years ago. Is there a plan to your career?
No, no, no. I’m just expressing. Whatever comes around that I feel I can. This script came and I went, Oh, I know this guy. I can do this and I want to do this because there’s lots of things I have to get out of my system and whatever. The scripts find you. It’s not really a plan. It would be great if it laid out in a certain pattern that worked for the long-term. Clint Eastwood kind of had a great pattern in his life. He did commercial things that appeal to a wide audience and then he did things that might challenge them or whatever. I put it out in the universe. I say I want something that’s really intelligent and beautiful in its heart and, kind of a few years ago I decided that I do want to make things that uplift people in a kind of a real way. The wonderful thing about this movie is that it’s about love and it’s love without being romanticized. It’s real love. It’s love when you go, “You are ugly to me sometimes and I love you, but sometimes I’m not going to like you”.
I loved your Peter Sellers tribute at the Oscars.
Peter Sellers, my gosh. Anybody who came to my house was entertained first by a ten-year-old child flailing, throwing himself down a long flight of stairs. That was how it began and then it just deteriorated from there. [Does an impression of Sellers in The Pink Panther.] I really loved the moment in Shot in the Dark where he scrapes the pool table… So much fun.
You’ve acted opposite many lovely leading ladies. Are there any you really want to work with?
Oh, there’s so many talented women out there right now, it’s incredible. There’s like a group of uber-chicks. No, they’re just amazing talents out there. I’d love to work with Nicole and many people, many, many people. There’s just too many. I can’t focus. Notice how I worked the company name in there? They love me. They love me in the junkets. Bunch of executives up there going “Yeaaah! Thank you! Michel, take note!”. […]
Intervista di Jeff Otto
Buongiorno… e casomai non vi rivedessi, buon pomeriggio, buonasera e buonanotte.
Truman Burbank, ultima battuta di The Truman Show