After receiving a critical pasting for his work on the wannabe Capra pic "The Majestic" in 2002, Jim Carrey treads more familiar ground (and water) in new comedy "Bruce Almighty". He'll take a walk on the wild side for his next movie, though, when he plays the lead in Charlie ("Adaptation.") Kaufman's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".
What was it like sharing the screen with such a movie God as Morgan Freeman?
In short? [Spits on the floor.] I'm kidding. The long version: Morgan Freeman is so class. Man, he's so cool and... kind of scary. He terrified Tom [Shadyac, the director] - it was hilarious. Tom didn't know what to do with Morgan. The first day I met Morgan, I walk up to him, shake his hand and say, "Hi Morgan, this is so great, I'm so glad you're doing this movie." And he says, "Nice to meet you too. Now, never touch me again." He's just got that way about him. He's like this laser that goes right to your soul. He raked Tom over the coals something awful through this whole movie - you knew he was joking, but it was still so uncomfortable. To me he's one of those guys that every actor is afraid of, because you walk on screen with him and you've got to be ready. Be ready, or he'll burn your soul.
Was there anything Tom wouldn't let you do with your divine powers because it was just too 'out there'?
Some of the scenes were cut short. Steve Carell [playing archrival Evan Baxter], when he's doing the news and I'm messing with him, we took it much further, actually. I mean, his head bursts into flames and everything else, and it just got too violent and horrible. And Tom says, "Hmm. No. Too much maybe." So, Tom was always there to rein me in. There's also a scene where I do a freefall from an aeroplane and the parachute doesn't open and I hit the ground, but fortunately I land on Bigfoot. That didn't make it in either. It was some of my favourite stuff, so I don't really understand why.
How do you deal with strangers' expectations of you in your everyday life? It's a lot of pressure if they expect you to be this funny all the time...
I enjoy my life. The fame part of it freaked me out for a little while, and there are definitely times when it's not so great to be special and known by everybody - you know, when you're wearing the wrong thing, or just in a vulnerable place. But I'm good with my life now. At a certain point, I just decided to pick it up and wear it and have fun with it. I don't feel any pressure to be funny at all. I'm funny because I want to be funny.
In the film, Bruce gets to a pretty dark place before God finally intervenes. In your life, have you been to those dark places? And how do you find the strength to get back on track?
Oh, yeah, sure. It's always... generally about a woman and [laughs] love lost, or yearning for. That's generally what brings men to their knees. There are, absolutely, dark places that I've been to. I've been on my knees many times in my life, and the only way I ever get out of it is by looking at what I have, and what's been given to me.
I don't want to take it all the time, but the exit from agony is always there. [Sometimes] you don't take it by choice. Instead you sit around going, "Why? Oh, why?", and you just want to indulge in that pain. Sometimes, when you think you have nothing, you sit down and make a list of things you're grateful for. Even if it's the stupidest little thing, you can't help but be happy at the end of it. It just lifts you. So, be grateful. Find something to be grateful for.