Interviews: Jim Carrey on Eternal Sunshine !

ON talked with Jim Carrey at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills this weekend about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the new Michel Gondry romantic comedy written by Charlie Kaufman. In the film, Joel ( Carrey) is stunned to discover that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he contacts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, to have Clementine removed from his own memory. But as Joel’s memories progressively disappear, he begins to rediscover their earlier passion. From deep within the recesses of his brain, Joel attempts to escape the procedure. As Dr. Meirzwiak and his crew chase him through the maze of his memories, it’s clear that Joel just can’t get her out of his head.

The thing about this movie is you move on and you love the person for who they are, flaws and all,” Carrey says while addressing his relationships gone bad. “You can’t help who you love, it comes from a different part than your logic. It’s like this person is not right for you and you should walk away and while you’re walking away, the other part of your brain is trying to gain control of your bodily functions. Turn around, she’s the one. In the moment, especially, you say to yourself, ‘I don’t need this, let me let this go’, but in retrospect you can look back at something that was a disaster and find some gems in there.”

Carrey adds that “Joel has amazing things going inside his brain that spill onto his page when he’s doing his diaries. When Clementine comes by she’s like the outward manifestation that he has inside himself that he can’t express. I don’t think he’s humorless or uninteresting. He’s really complex.”

He says that he liked working with Kate Winslet because she’s such a talented actress. “I get excited when I’m surrounded by people who’ll make me better and make me stay on my game and challenge me. She’s wonderful to watch, unbelievable. Sometimes I won’t know what she’s doing in the scene and then I’ll look at her later but then she’ll know later how she’ll come off. It’s incredible.”

Jim Carrey thinks that the film doesn’t revolve as much around memory loss, it concentrates more on being erases. “That was the strongest pull for me. That’s a heavy feeling, when he finds out that she erased him, that’s such a brutal thing to a male ego especially, and I love the idea that the memories went in reverse. There are so many things that made it different than the normal losing-your-memory movie. I love the clunky sci fi aspect of this movie, it doesn’t take it over. It’s interesting. ”

The comedian had to open up quite a bit for “Eternal Sunshine”. “I was ecstatic and joyful when I came to New York but then I had to sit and peel the scabs off and say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that.’ It opened me up and I wanted to express anger and resentment of old hurts past. What ended up happening was it became like a love letter. So I was saved from myself. It was a love letter to everyone I loved.”

Working with director Michel Gondry made things a bit easier. “Michel is just a creative genius. He comes in every day with something that spins you around and makes you say “Somebody’s bringing something to the table,” that’s great. And what was it like working with… Jim Carrey? “Yeah, it was pretty interesting,” said Carrey laughing. “It’s a funny thing that I get to do so many different things. I just feel so lucky when I’m doing the big broad comedy. I’m sitting going, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this, this is so silly, this is ridiculous.’ With those movies I’m coming at people, but on something like ‘Eternal Sunshine’ I get to let them sit back and let them come inside.”

Carrey also talked about the challenges and joys of working with a Charlie Kaufman script. “It’s like Moses coming down from the mountain with the tablets. Every time he’s done with a script people in Hollywood are going, ‘It’s here.’ He’s just so rock and roll and at the same time he’s a complete intellectual. This movie has everything going. Just happy to be a small part of his legacy because this will be a big legacy when he’s done with all this creative madness. This movie has just an anchor with heart and something that people can identify with on an emotional level. I feel like I won the lottery. The challenges… I was constantly going, ‘Michel, please tell me… in my language.’ During the whole Iraq thing he was calling himself French Toast all the time. The challenges were me saying, ‘Michel, where are we? Is this memory the way it was, or was it gilded?’ It was fascinating.”

Peter Sellers was a big influence on Carrey’s creative childhood. “Peter Sellers, my gosh. Anybody who came to my house was first entertained by a 10-year-old child flailing himself down a long flight of stairs. It just deteriorated from there. I would have so much fun with it. I think I really love the moment in ‘A Shot in the Dark’ where he scrapes the pool table and says ‘this seems to have grazed your billiard table.’ So much fun.”

Are there any leading ladies he would like to work with? “There’s so many talented women out there, it’s incredible. There are a group of uber chicks, man. Seriously, I’d love to work with Nicole Kidman, many, many people. Too many, I can’t focus. Notice how I work the company name in there. They love, me, they love me at the junkets.”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind opens nationwide on Friday, March 19.