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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Jim Carrey Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. In the production notes, Brad is quoted as saying you strike him as being Peter Sellers' odd cousin. Can you elaborate?
A.
The joy in being bad has got to be there, it's got to be on the screen, and it's so much fun, you know. Comparing things to Peter Sellers obviously is lofty; he was one of my favourites. But I just saw the TV movie (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers], and, you know, I hope I'm not compared to him always! Stomping on the children's toys!!! It's pretty heavy! No, Peter, Peter! You're good, people love you! I don't know what question I'm answering!
It's tough to be compared in that way to that person. I mean I play multiple roles but I always try to keep in mind that I am Count Olaf, you know, the whole time. He's just making really bad acting choices, which I love. This movie is something which could be revisited because there's so many possibilities. We came up with 30 characters in the trailer that will never be seen, but who were so much fun. It was really a thrill.

Q. So would you be happy to return to the role?
A.
Well, you know, hey, if they back the truck up, you know what I mean? This was very fun, very fun. It's amazing how something so incredibly negative could be such a blessing. I think our lives are all better by comparison, you know?

Q. Count Olaf is disturbingly English sounding. What was the inspiration?
A.
American Standard actually! It's a bastardised version of the English... though not quite. It was an opportunity for me to, within a very silly structure, to be kind of a classic character.

Q. But what about the bad acting department - was that based on anyone?
A.
Bruce Willis! [Laughter abounds] I'm kidding, Bruce, don't hunt me down, you're an action guy, I understand. But, no, basically the character is born out of absolute, like a complete black hole void of person or sense of self - which is true of some actors! He's an actor losing his hair, too, which always adds a danger element. It was just a fantastic idea to be able to make fun of us, you know. We're a very vulnerable group and been through many, many an acting class, and met many an acting guru, and it was just really fun to be in that situation. I mean, we improvised for days. There were a couple of times where I turned to Brad and said 'is this the third day I don't think I've said anything in the script? What's going on here?' We were just all like repeating moments from my acting classes.

Q. Why do you think children are increasingly being drawn towards these sorts of dark stories?
A.
Because they're bad... children are bad! No, I think it's a relief to kids, I really do.I think they see through this story that no matter how bad it gets, they have each other, their friends, their family, they have something. It connects also... the books really connect, in a way, with kids I think that everybody kind of feels orphaned, in a way, these days. Even if you've got parents - both parents - everybody's busy and working and everybody's trying to make it in the world, and people have that feeling, you know? And the feeling, also, that no one ever believes you. That's what I loved about it, you know, that I could be right in front of them, they could be pointing at me, and none of the other adults get it, because they're so self-involved.

Q. As in Violet and Klaus, naturally in life would you be an inventor, a reader or a biter? And if, how and why?
Emily:
Probably more of a reader. I don't think I could actually invent something myself, but, yeah, I read a lot. So that's pretty much what I'm like.
Liam: Yeah I'm definitely a reader.
Timothy: I'm a biter of books! 19th Century English literature... very tasty!
Meryl Streep: I'm probably more of an inventor, I think. I'm always trying to think up new ways to do things.
Jim Carrey: Me as well. Inventor. A little bit of reader. Biter sometimes - just myself. I've got marks all over my body! But inventor, definitely. I mean, the wonderful thing about this, and I feel so lucky to have done so many different kind of things in the last little while, this is something different; it's not Harry Potter, it's not anything else. People are trying to compare those and yet it is a completely different entity and has a character all its own. It's like nothing I've ever seen, and I think it's really different. And that's everything to me. I just want to create things that have not been done before.
Brad: I would be the control freak directing a biter to read while inventing!

Q. What advice would you give to young actors about how to stay cool and funny even if life is hard?
A.
Stay out of my way. Don't get any parts that I want - I'll track you down! No, I honestly, I believe that the most important thing is to believe, to have faith, because there are times when we've been up against the wall in this business, where you think there's no love, there's no money, there's very little that keeps you going except faith. And just.... I've always operated that way from the very beginning. I've visualised everything that's happened and I've always just had this weird kind of feeling that I could make it happen, with God's help and the help of my friends, you know.

Q. Robert DeNiro has tried to do comedy, Robin Williams has tried to do serious, yet you seem to be able to do both. How does it work? Do you think now it's time to do comedy, or drama?
A.
You're never satisfied, I think. I don't think you can be satisfied. I think it's your job not to be satisfied, and to be wanting to express different things; oh my gosh, I wonder if I could find that in myself, whatever it is, you know. And it's great, everybody kind of wants to do the things they don't get to do as much of. It's inate in us just to be unsatisfied.

Q. You must be quite satisfied, as you've just got a Golden Globe nomination?
A.
Yes, very beautiful. yeah thank you! If I'd said the blockbuster award, they would have got it!

Q. How does the make-up surrounding this character compare to the Grinch? And in terms of performance, which was more stretching?
A.
I think Count Olaf.... The Grinch just wants to be left alone! Count Olaf wants to be seen by everyone and revered by everyone and thought of as a genius by everyone. So he's closer to the real me [laughs]. It was a very personal performance for me! And in terms of make-up, The Grinch broke me, basically. I was a wild pony, a bud stallion before that happened. I would cry before I went to the trailer, it was so difficult. So this one was a joy. I mean, I think that was preparing me for this or something. I just was excited about the effect that it has. And the experimentation that we did in the trailer was so much fun, it really was like, kind of... it's a bitter-sweet thing because there's so much that was created for this movie that's not in the movie, and yet what's there is really cool, but we know what's there, what we did, all the things we did, and all the things that were created, that may happen later, or may not, who knows? It was a really exciting process, finding the characters especially.

Q. Do you consider yourself to be a big kid and what was your childhood?
A.
My childhood was, huh, not unlike the Beaudelaire orphans! [laughter] No, I absolutely do. I mean anybody in this business has to have a wide image of living and of making believe. You have to have a child inside you somewhere. I think that's what makes people love you and what makes people hate you, you know, in the same vein. Some people love that they can see that on film, but some people don't like that anybody can still go there! It's a strange thing. All I know is that it really is play of some sort. It's educated play. You have to know your character inside out, and when you do that, you get given gifts. It's great, it's so much fun. It really is truly magical.

Q. I know that you like singing in the shower?
A.
I put on concerts in the shower. It's unbelievable. It's great because I can slide around here. I love to sing in the shower; I sing and I fight with people, to be totally honest. Cos that's the time to do it. You can't do it in public! So you sing [mimics].

Q. How do you deal with an unfortunate event in my life?
Streep. I
guess denial, denial, denial, and then moving on to forget about it. I've always gotten up every morning in a good mood, and then it just sort of goes downhill from there. [laughs]
Jim Carrey: But it's funny, though, how sometimes these things that are the worst things that you think could ever happen to you, actually, later on, you're doing a part or something like that and you go 'actually, I could not do this if I didn't go through that'.
Streep: Oh that's very true! And the people that say 'this is an opportunity', this sad thing, this is a door opening to something new and different that you wouldn't have signed up for, necessarily.
Carrey: It's one of the weird things you do to yourself, being an actor, it's like you almost, you don't invite it, you don't want negativity, it's just when it's happening, there's a part of you that's going 'interesting'. We were talking about that last night that certain actors, in the middle of sobbing, will stop and go 'hold on, one second, I want to see what that looks like'!

Q. What was working with Billy Connolly like?
A.
What a pleasure, what a pleasure. Truly, really a great guy, and I don't know if there's some seething darkness underneath there, I have no idea; all I know is that me makes me laugh because he's positive about everything. Literally like [impression] 'I just got hit by a car last night, it was the funniest thing!' And it's like, you know, everything's positive, that's his angle. Like 'nuclear holocaust, isn't it funny the way you roll along the ground trying not to be melted!'

Q. What were the books you read as a kid that gave you inspiration?
A.
Anna Karenina. Terrifying. Far too many names to remember.

Q. Count Olaf is a very iconic baddie. Did you enjoy it?
A.
I loved it. It's so much fun to play a character like this because it's, you take away all the rules. The rules are gone. There's nothing you can't do. It's just such a freeing kind of thing. And everybody's safe; it's ok. It was a very strange kind of balancing act on this one, because he is really dangerous, and yet you want to laugh at him.

Q. Can you say anything in defence of Count Olaf?
A.
In defence of Count Olaf? Oh no, I don't think he thinks he's evil. I think he thinks that people are wrong. That everyone who perceives him as wrong is incorrect. Is beneath him! He needs to feel that there are people beneath him. I think he's a child at heart. He's just a lonesome child like them, actually [points towards children].

Q. We're next going to see you in Fun with Dick and Jane, how's that going? And were you a fan of the original?
A.
I loved the original! I thought it was great, but I think it's more relevant today. You know, it's set in the year 2000, just before Enron happened, and everybody kind of lost everything, and before George got in, and it's kind of an interesting little moment in time. It's about people who are losing their middle-class lifestyle and decide to rob 7/11s. It's a really fun romp.

Q. Did you terrify the Hoffman twins when you were done up in make-up?
A.
Yeah, they were terrified. It was very hard to get through that...
Brad: And we made so many efforts to get round that. We'd bring them in before the nose went on, then bring them in.
A. They tried everything with those kids, you know. They had fruit loops, and somebody with a little small TV with Shrek on it! So a lot of times when you see the baby, she's actually watching Shrek! [laughs]

Q. Have you got a 10-second pitch why you should win the Golden Globe?
A.
I would never do that in a million years. My pitch? My pitch is why not, I'm human too!

Q. You said there were no rules here, but would you do something like Bad Santa?
A.
Bad Santa? I think that's been done... and pretty well, too! You know, yeah absolutely. There's a weirdness... it's a dark kind of tale, and yet there is an intent here that is bright, and that is that they have each other, and that's all they need - whatever the backdrop is. So I'm very excited about it, cos I'm interested to see how people react, and how kids react especially. It seems to have tapped into something in them, the books, that's creepy and I want to see how they react. And it was such a fun production to be part of, really. It's beautiful, beautiful work from everybody. From acting, with these guys, it's tremendous, and the art direction, from Rick Heinrich's direction, is fantastic; Brad is a genius, and you know the costumes as well were staggeringly beautiful. I mean you can see it in the movie, but when you see them close-up, as well, and see the work that went into the costumes, it's not a costume, it's real, and it's amazing combination of Elizabethan meets Madonna... Like A Virgin tour or something. Crazy and wonderful.

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