A/V Room









Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Jim Carrey Q&A

Compiled by: Jack Foley

IN HIS latest film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by French music video legend Michel Gondry from a script by Charlie (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) Kaufman, Jim Carrey combines both sides with a dramatic performance in a dark comedy about love lost and found.

Carrey stars as Joel Barish, an introverted New Yorker who is devastated to discover he has been ‘erased’ from the mind of his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet).

Q. What attracted you to this film?
I immediately identified with it, as I think most people will. The content is so universal; that everybody has some painful memory of a relationship they’d love to erase, but probably shouldn’t because it is a valuable thing to love anybody for any period of time.
I thought it was very original and it was saying ultimately that we love who we love and we can’t help ourselves. The script also hit such a nerve with the idea of playing somebody who has been erased. Everyone has that fear that someone has gotten over you, and you’re still hooked, and it was just such an original script I had to jump in.

Q. What can you tell us about your character Joel?
I play a guy who thinks he has found the love of his life, somebody who expresses a side of him that he wishes he could express because he is a very withdrawn character, but you can tell by his writings and drawings that some very wild stuff is going on inside him. And along comes Clementine, who is the outward manifestation of that, and who is everything he is not.
He falls in love with her, they have a very odd relationship and it’s very painful and she has him erased on a whim. He finds out and is crushed and decides to do it as well but half-way through the process, because you go from the most contemporary memory to the oldest memory, eventually you get to the part where you realise you loved each other and there are beautiful memories he wants to keep. So it becomes a chase, because he starts to try and hide her in other memories to preserve her in his mind.

Q. Could you relate to Joel?
It was an odd thing, because at the time I got the script, I was kind of bummed out about something and Michel was like, ‘what are we going to do; when you get around to shooting the movie you’ll be happy and over it!’ and I said, ‘no, I’m sure I can drum it up!’ and that’s what I had to do, because I took this script and went to New York and had to open up all those wounds again.

Q. Were you a fan of the writer, Charlie Kaufman?
He’s an incredible human being, very sensitive and I think he is Joel to a certain extent. I think everybody in a Charlie Kaufman movie plays Charlie Kaufman to some degree, but what a complete original.
I feel really honoured to be part of his story because, I think he, more than anybody, in the last few decades is the most original thing that has come along. When I first read the script, I also knew it was the most accessible film that Charlie Kaufman has written. It’s still wild, but it has that sci-fi element to it, and is a real love story at the same time. It’s not a ‘honey, come back’ love story; it’s a ‘well, it’s going to be bad sometimes but I love you anyway’ story. And that’s real.

Q. What were the other elements to this film that attracted you?
There are so many talents from different areas going at this film at the same time. It is a dream cast and I kept looking at it thinking, ‘why do these people want to work with me?’
There is Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson and they are all tremendous. And Michel Gondry, the director, is an element that really drew me to this project.
There is the intellectual side of Charlie Kaufman, and, combine that with the completely artistic, whimsical, crazed visual side of Michel Gondry, and his ability to experiment, and you have an incredible combination.


Q. Do you think you are attracted to roles that explore personality conflicts, for example, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber and now this film?
I have a lot of duality going on in many of my movies and it’s all me. But I’m a very serious person most of the time. I don’t know about anybody else, but I spent my whole childhood either in the living room, entertaining and putting on a funny show, or I was in this little closet, rigged up to be a spare room, holed up writing poetry. So I was always the two sides and with these choices, I guess I get to express both sides. I don’t think it is a coincidence, because the interesting thing is that the scripts find you.

Q. What did you think of Michel leaving the camera on all the time?
It was fantastic; being able to go, ‘here is a 75-watt bulb and you’re going to run around the room, take your clothes off and come out the other side and be a different person’. Whatever it is, he makes it all happen in the camera without any special effects. He is a total original, so I was excited to work with him because I’d been a fan since I saw his first film, Human Nature.

Q. What kind of shoot was it?
It was fun but it was hard. It was 17-hour-plus days, in Montauk, on the beach in the dead of Winter, with your feet in the ocean or half-naked in a bed! I’d also never shot a film in New York and that was a challenge, too, because you can get all the permits you want, but you can’t stop the city and people have the right to walk wherever they want to work, and the paparazzi are all over you all the time.
When you do get your one shot at doing a scene, you have to do it well and jump into it quickly. But it was an amazing place to shoot because any direction you look at, New York City is alive, with angles and fantastic shapes, and the people are amazing - half the people slam into the movie and they’re just great natural actors so it contributes to the feel of the movie.

Q. How was working with Kate Winslet?
She was so incredible and sweet. She was really cool with me and we had a lot of chemistry, which came off well for the film.
She is a complete professional, subtle and beautiful in her work, and she made herself this great character. It’s weird not to think of her as Clementine to me, because she had orange and blue hair and that is always the image of her I’ll have. We were both in the dark sometimes, because it is such a complex script to keep track of, and we would constantly go off and ask each other, ‘what are we doing?’ And then we’d look at each other and go, ‘I think maybe this is not supposed to make sense here’.

Q. Were you able to draw on your own experiences to play this role?
I wouldn’t have been able to do this movie without some of the things I’ve been through, because I wouldn’t have understood this script. Unless you have your balls busted, you are just no good to anybody on a script like this. This story is about getting down to that vein; the deep, turbulent current of lost love.
I think everybody basically walks the earth with a broken heart to some extent, and we do the best we can around that. I also loved that when they were breaking up, she told him he was boring and he was boring when she met him and she knew it. But when she hates him, it’s a horrible thing, and I think we can all relate to that feeling.
That weird laugh that your girlfriend has that you think is cute - six months down the road you’re like, ‘you’re driving me crazy!’ and you’re apologising to everyone around you for her weird laugh!

Q. What do you think about being able to erase someone?
I think in the moment it seems like a great idea. There have been a couple of Valentine’s days where I would have been doing this to forget about someone, but I don’t think it’s a good idea because I think you ultimately benefit from the most painful relationships.
And even when I look back on the ones that brought me to my knees, I can still think, ‘well that few months before that end was poetry and heaven and gorgeousness’. I believe that if you get over the really tough stuff, that takes you to the edge, and you still believe in the world at the end of it all, you win. I love the message of this movie because it’s about the spirituality of imperfection and accepting that.

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