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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events -

Feature by: Jack Foley

A SERIES of unfortunate events was an apt description for how to describe the sort of day both members of the press and the celebrities they were seeing were forced to endure on Thursday, December 16 (2004).

The day was supposed to have begun with a press conference for Ocean's 12 (with Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) at Claridges Hotel, before switching to The Mandarin Oriental for an audience with Jim Carrey and the cast of Lemony Snicket.

Yet when a small fire broke out at Claridges, the Ocean's 12 event had to be cancelled (despite numerous attempts to go-ahead), while even Carrey himself had to be evacuated from where he was staying.

Needless to say, the ensuing events meant that the Lemony Snicket press conference ran late, so it was refreshing to find Carrey in such fine form when he finally emerged before the world's press.

The Canadian star, who recently became a US citizen, had previously joked with journalists that 'the movie's all about fire and disaster and so I get up for the press junket today and suddenly my house is burning down, and I'm on the balcony like a damsel screaming with a very high-pitched voice'.

But then Carrey is someone who candidly admits to being able to take something positive from even the most negative life experience.

"It's one of the weird things you do to yourself; 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'.

"Sometimes these things that are the worst things that you think could ever happen to you, 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'.

"Certain actors, in the middle of sobbing, will stop and go 'hold on, one second, I want to see what that looks like'!"

Not that Carrey was too bothered about the blaze, given the excitement he feels about Lemony Snicket.

Based upon the popular children's books of the same name, Lemony Snicket finds Carrey as evil Count Olaf, a failed actor, who is determined to get his hands on the vast fortune of the recently-orphaned Beaudelaire orphans, following a fire which destroys their home.

Needless to say, Olaf will stop at nothing to get the money, even if it means killing the children themselves, or any other relatives foolish enough to get in his way.

It's a dark, twisted romp that has captured children's imaginations, and which provides Carrey with another excellent showcase for his vast comedic talents.

But, as the actor states: "The wonderful thing about this is that 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."

Indeed, the fact that it was so different enabled Carrey to continually experiment with the character of Olaf, which proved another attraction.

He readily admits that much of the script was improvised, and joked about getting to the third day of ignoring what was in the script.

"It's so much fun to play a character like this because you take away all the rules - the rules are gone and there's nothing you can't do.

"And that'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."

Asked why he thought children continued to be drawn to such dark stories, Carrey did become a little more serious.

"I think it connects, in a way, with kids and how everybody kind of feels orphaned these days.

"Even if you've got parents, everybody's busy and working and everybody's trying to make it in the world, and people have that feeling, you know?"

The release of Lemony Snicket marks a particularly memorable year for Carrey, who earlier dazzled audiences with the excellent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

So it was little wonder that thoughts also turned to his ability, as an A-list personality, to juggle roles so successfully, flitting from drama to comedy with the sort of effortless aplomb that has eluded so many.

When asked what drove him and how he chose between projects, he candidly replied: "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."

The star even agreed that there was an element of having a little child inside of him (akin to the boy who never grew up).

"I think 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," he chuckled.

"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."

Looking to the future, Carrey will next be seen in the remake of Fun With Dick and Jane, which he admits to being equally excited about.

"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 [Bush] 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."

In the meantime, he will be hoping to turn his recent Golden Globe nomination for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind into an award come the January showpiece ceremony.

Asked if he had a 10-second pitch, he smied and stated: "My pitch? My pitch is why not, I'm human too!"



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