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
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?
A. 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 theyd love to erase, but probably
shouldnt 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 cant 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 youre 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?
A. 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because he is a very withdrawn character, but you can tell by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
its 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?
A. 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 youll be happy and over it! and I said,
no, Im sure I can drum it up! and thats
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?
A. Hes 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. Its still wild, but it has that sci-fi element
to it, and is a real love story at the same time. Its not
a honey, come back love story; its a well,
its going to be bad sometimes but I love you anyway
story. And thats real.
Q. What were the other elements to this film that attracted
A. 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
A. I have a lot of duality going on in many of my movies and
its all me. But Im a very serious person most of the
time. I dont 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 dont 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
A. It was fantastic; being able to go, here is a 75-watt
bulb and youre 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 Id been a fan since I saw his first film,
Q. What kind of shoot was it?
A. 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! Id 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 cant 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 theyre just great
natural actors so it contributes to the feel of the movie.
Q. How was working with Kate Winslet?
A. 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
She is a complete professional, subtle and beautiful in her work,
and she made herself this great character. Its 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 Ill 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 wed
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
A. I wouldnt have been able to do this movie without
some of the things Ive been through, because I wouldnt
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, its 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 youre like, youre
driving me crazy! and youre apologising to everyone
around you for her weird laugh!
Q. What do you think about being able to erase someone?
A. I think in the moment it seems like a great idea. There
have been a couple of Valentines days where I would have
been doing this to forget about someone, but I dont think
its 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 its about the spirituality
of imperfection and accepting that.