A lot of critics have been talking about how your performance in The Majestic is quite calm. There are no one-line catch phrases, no scene with you talking out of your a*s– just basic human emotion. Do you think it was the most controlled performance you’ve ever given in a film and if so, did you feel like you were being held back a bit? ^ I’d say it’s the LEAST controlled 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. It was very confronting and I was very uncomfortable with it a lot of the time. I had Frank (Darabont) 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.
Were you conscious of making a drama without your usual comedy performance? ^ Well, there were times when my instincts went in the wrong directions for the piece and Frank would steer me back, which was great. To have a good director, somebody who’s going to go, ‘That’s good and it’s real, but it’s not this movie, that’s not the tone,’ that’s what they’re there for– as guidance. So, there were times when the old chops come in handy but for the most part in this movie it was about going. I sat down with Peter Weir before we started to film I had dinner with him and he said, ‘Jim, if you do anything in this movie, be who you are sitting here right now and let the camera come in and don’t try to make anything happen. Just be who you are and let the audience decide what to think of it.’ There are times when you could do all the manipulation you want in your head but really all the audience needs is a blank slate to throw out whatever they believe in there. It’s a great process.
What if people don’t respond to it? ^ Well, that would be a negative result that hasn’t happened so I can’t go there. I can’t live there I live in a place of just go forward and do your best work and I believe in my soul that I’m a worthwhile person, that there is something interesting to me to sit with for two hours. So, that’s my faith. I have to have my faith. You don’t consider when you’re dealing with faith ‘oh my God, it might fall on its face,’ because that fall on its face is gonna lead, if that does happen, hopefully not, but if it does happen, it will lead to greater things. If you’re not embittered by it you will become even greater because of it and you’ll become even more interesting, more creative. When the camera looks in your eyes, it’ll see that pain and that disappointment and also that you got over it. My biggest thing in life is I want to be an old guy who you look in his eye and you know he’s like an old trout that’s been caught 100 billion times and thrown back over because he’s just too big and they feel sorry for doing it, but he still loves jumping out of the water and swimming in the lake and loves life. That’s it When you see an old person who you know has been beaten down and they still love life and love people, that’s it. That has nothing to do with movies.
Now despite all the Oscar buzz that is surrounding The Majestic and yourself, many feel you will be overlooked again by the Academy after being snubbed for The Truman Show and Man on the Moon. Are you mad at the Academy? ^ No, not at all. I have so much in my life and so many blessings. I have so much that I could never ever put myself in that place. I do what I love to do. I tell great stories. I get to work with the best people and it’s so diverse this trip I’ve fallen into where I can go from “The Grinch” to this and The Truman Show to Me, Myself and Irene to whatever else– it is like a gift and 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 important to me. When the money and all that started happening, 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.
Are you at least conscious of the Oscar buzz? ^ I think it’s great that people keep focusing on that. It says something about their belief in me, and it seems to be a lot of people think I belong there so that’s a pretty wonderful thing. Whether I get that or not is not up to me. I will accept any gifts that God has planned for me. That’s where I stand on that and I think it’ll be wonderful.
Honestly, do you care about the Oscar? ^ I care about my work. If that says in some way that my work pleased my peers, that’s a great thing.
We always hear that death is easy, comedy is hard, and that perhaps comedy is easy for you. Is there a sense that if you continue to do the “The Mask”‘s and “Ace Ventura”‘s there won’t be a lengthy career and that people will just get tired of that EASE to which you approach those roles? Is that fear a result of the string of dramatic pictures you have done and The Grinch, which was more of a family piece than a comedy? ^ I think that there is a danger, as with any comedic artist, that at a certain point people sit back and say, ‘now you’re an old guy and you should have some dignity’ and that’s not on the outside, that’s inside. There is a childlike quality that you have when you are a child and you start with something inside you that wants to live with dignity and as an adult. If you are forced to have to go back and get to that kooky childlike place, a lot of people do it with other things. A lot of people drink or get themselves to a place where they don’t care There will be many different types of movies. So far I haven’t dealt with pigeonholing. I hear a lot of people pick up on kind of like a hook every time. Can he do the dramatic; can he do this and that? I’m a creative guy and I’m an open guy. I can be directed and I’m an intelligent person sometimes.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of JIM CARREY GETS SERIOUS>>>