Published on January 3rd, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Jim Carrey: Inside “Inside the Actors’ Studio”, Part II

Welcome to part II of guest blogger C.J.’s account of Jim Carrey’s Inside The Actors’ Studio taping. It’s likely that much of what’s documented in this half – primarily Carrey’s ideas about creativity and philosophy – won’t make it into the broadcast on Bravo! coming up on Jan. 10. That’s just the way the goes.

Carrey is a spiritual guy, no doubt about that –and any interview that touches on it is going to get heady at one point or another. So strap yourselves in, and enjoy part II!

JL: What did you want to be when you grew up?

JC: Like most every Catholic boy, I wanted to be Jesus…

JL: And now?

JC: Kanye West is already doing that.

He also pointed out that having such a goal is all about achieving “authenticity” which unfortunately “comes with DEATH”! So that also changed his mind about this early aspiration.

On what gives him the courage to take risks:

JC: My father. He was a saxophone player. He gave up his dream for a ‘safe job’. I’ve been fueled by this knowledge that there is no safe job, no safe anything. The only thing to regret [in life] is ‘I didn’t take the risk.’ Fail at something you LOVE!

JL: Is your gift genetic?

JC: I remembered seeing my father thinking – That’s the way to operate in the world!

We all have an amazing magic inside of all of us, and the difference [between those whose gifts develop and those that don’t] are those of us that believe in that [gift], recognize it, that think about and [tap into] that energy.”

For each film, his approach to developing his character varies. Carrey illustrates his approach to Man on the Moon and how his “transformation” was a gradual process. In the months leading up to shooting, he gives this example:

“Right before Man on the Moon, when I was hanging out with Nicholas Cage, he was like, ‘What’s going on with your eyes, man? You look different.’”

Carrey discusses the aspect of himself being shy, and how creating outrageous characters such as Ace Ventura has offered him the opportunity to step out of his naturally quiet and introspective self. Acting can often be an expression “to be something you’re trying to be in real life.”

He illustrates this, giving an example of something we’ve all experiences at one time or another: a bully says something horrible to you and then you beat yourself up for hours because you didn’t have an incredible comeback. Far worse, when you finally come up with that perfect comeback in your mind, it’s too late. Acting gives an artist all the ingredients to live out their wildest fantasies. You get “…all of the comebacks in the world! [You get] to live vicariously through these characters.”

He discusses the importance of commitment to character, to make “conflict as real as possible, so our physical being will react organically.” He discusses the philosophy of “There is no self – that thoughts aren’t real” in reference to Eckhart Tolle’s teachings applied to this aspect of creating his characters.

He makes reference to Eckhart Tolle and his teachings throughout he interview.

[Ed. Note: For more of Carrey’s thoughts on Tolle, this video is a good start. ]

On the subject of certain roles being expected of him and of people trying to label him:

”I’ve always done everything I could not to be known completely.”

On what’s at the heart of all of the work he engages in:

The greatest jobs in the world stem from service and always come back to that every time and again – “How can I be of service?”

He recounts the story about when Paramount Pictures got created an anniversary photo with their biggest stars, where Tom Cruise jokingly turned up to him during the shoot and said “How’d YOU get here?” and Carrey replied, “I had a sick mom”.

Carrey then discussed how his childhood revolved around ways to try and make his mom and family happy through laughter. He would sit in his room pondering life’s deep questions and how he could alleviate the suffering in his world. Pondering how he could be of service “on a more massive level” only grew as he aged.

Carrey studied The Meisner Technique with Jeff Goldblum. Carrey does an impression of Goldblum, and then recalls a time when Goldblum was teaching in the valley and invited Carrey and Damon Wayans to take one of his courses. “Damon got kicked out after two days because he was laughing at people’s pain!” Carrey explained that Wayans grew up in a tough neighborhood where people didn’t share their feelings, cry, etc.

Carrey was very strong in his stance on the cookie-cutter nature of films today and the fear by the industry to take risks:

“STOP SHAVING THE EDGES OFF! The edges are what makes them interesting!”

Carrey used an analogy to the effect of that the same people that look at car accident wreckage are the same ones that say that they are uncomfortable watching certain film scenes – as if they’d never looked at a gruesome sight in their life, as if they didn’t have that very human quality of having curiosity. He points out that one of the whole points of art is to “express life truthfully”. “We go to the movies to see the edges we can’t see in real life. It’s important NOT to take the rough stuff away.”

On the variety of his choices and the types of films he pursues:

JC: I feel lucky. I enjoy throwing the hounds off the trail. I feel that it’s the same way that I paint. I want to tell a wide range of stories. I still haven’t done what I need/want to do.

JL: What do you want to do?

JC: Explode into a ball of light!

On what he needs in scenes when he is performing comedy:

There’s an importance for people around me to be really real. There has to be a HUGE smile behind your character. Every part is different. Get frustrated with the idea [about what your character is going to be, and give it time].

On what he needs from a director:

“Tight, open collaboration. Someone coming with ideas and knowing what they do. Never someone who doesn’t collaborate and also [jokes] KEEP TELLING ME THAT I’M AMAZING!!!”

Carrey discussed the fun psychology game/exercise he created and would play with his three close friends (he’s discussed this in previous interviews). He would “take away everyone’s main mode of operating”, and the four would try to follow these rules during their duration of hanging out together:

-The friend that always solved the problems “couldn’t have all of the answers”

-The director friend “couldn’t direct”

-The famous actor “couldn’t talk about himself”

“My shyness makes me uncomfortable. It’s hard to be THIS watched.”

Carrey added that he makes a point of it to challenge his shyness by continuously to put himself out there. He gave recent examples, such as doing this Actor’s Studio interview and hosting Saturday Night Live on Jan. 8.

On facing his nerves:

“I’m not ever sure where the energy’s going to come from…I have to do so without thinking…say “YES!” and it will all turn out alright.”

He mentions that there are “certain people he’d be thrilled to meet”, including Al Pacino “I’m still a fan”. He comments that he would love to work with him one day.

On how he balances his spirituality with his work:

“If I find peace, will I still be motivated to create? There is a certain aspect to being an artist where you are forced to create from desperation. You really have to love creating ‘cause you suffer for it. Spirituality comes from having compassion for who you play. It’s been an urge to do something transcendent… extraordinary while you’re here. Spirituality is the same kind of thing. I have surrendered to the fact to believe in my thoughts and feelings.”

On what he focuses on during discouraging times?

JC: I have an insane belief in my own ability to manifest things. I believe every moment and everything you go through you can turn your life like THAT by deciding how it’s going to be…and it HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY. And the only time it goes awry is when I forget… depression, [etc.]. Explore being conscious and conscious awareness…the study of consciousness. The idea that it’s a garden of ice sculptures [we’re each other’s reflection]… we’re all connected… you are feeling what I’m feeling and we know things we don’t even know we know.

See, I warned you it would get heady! Thanks again to C.J. for all her work. Looking forward to seeing how much of this makes it to air on Dec. 10!


About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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