“You can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well do what you love. There’s really no choice to be made. What do you want to be?”
Over the last couple months, I’ve posted a few videos (click here or here) from Jim Carrey. I’m fascinated by what’s happened to the comedian over the last 15 years. He was the biggest star in the world and, as it turns out, he was utterly miserable being it. A lot of the things he’s been so candid about since “Bearded Jim” emerged on the scene have really resonated with me. The notion that you have to take a chance on people liking you for who you really are or kill yourself and walk around wearing a mask particularly hit me, because I’m quite the mask forger and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how toxic that can be.
Most of these clips have come from an outstanding Netflix documentary called Jim & Andy, which I could not recommend more. Universal finally gave Carrey the behind-the scenes footage he shot on the set of The Man in the Moon while he stayed in character as the late comedian Andy Kaufman for months. Universal was terrified it would get out and the likable Carrey would be seen as a lunatic. Netflix weaves the footage with Carrey talking about his transformation, and it’s mesmerizing stuff. I don’t think there’s ever been a movie star like Carrey who’s gone through this kind of transformation, and I like him more NOW than I did when he was making me laugh as a kid.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at Jim Carrey. We looked at his story and his motivation for the career that made him, at one time, the biggest star in the world. We also looked at Jim Carrey as he is today and how he feels like he had to shed the “Jim Carrey” mask we all thought was the real him to find some peace in his life. Ironically, I think a movie about a magic mask is Carrey’s best comedic work.
The Mask is based on a much darker comic book from Dark Horse that served as a perfect vehicle to highlight Carrey’s astounding elasticity as a physical comedian; literally giving him the opportunity to become a human cartoon in the perfect setting. No one else could have made The Mask work. It’s a zany, over-the-top screwball comedy/super hero film. There isn’t anyone else who could have made its absurdity work while keeping the film believable within the insane confines of its own boundaries. The perfect example is “Cuban Pete”. The Mask is cornered by a horde of police and the film breaks out into full-on musical number. Who else could have made that work and not have had the film go completely off-the-rails?
I’m sad that Carrey seems like he’s pretty much done, though he hasn’t made anything really great since 2004. Of his comedies, The Mask and Liar Liar are my favorite, but The Mask is an overall better film, and one of the most underrated comic book adaptations. It’s sad that we won’t get more of the Jim Carrey that we all thought we knew, but after hearing him talk, I’d rather he leave us the work he did and find his own peace rather than follow the tragic path so many other comedic stars have burned out along.
This is a companion piece, a sequel really, to a two-part video look at Jim Carrey and what has happened to the actor over the last 15 years. Once the biggest star in the world, Carrey hasn’t made a really quality film since 2004″ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and his career seemed increasingly more desperate and sad until Carrey largely stopped working altogether. His story is inspirational and that was covered in a fantastic video I posted on the site last month. In the discussion on the site about the video, a lot of concern was raised that Carrey, like a lot of comedians might be in danger. People think humor comes from joy. It doesn’t. Humor is the best bad way to deal with enormous pain (I don’t know a good way). People always seem startled when comedians deal with substance abuse or commit suicide, but it’s not surprising at all. Their art is their battle.
I feel much better about Carrey and where he’s at after watching this. I don’t agree with all the conclusions he’s drawn, but-hey-we’re all different. What really resonated with me is right at the beginning when he says basically that if “Jim Carrey” was so easily destroyed in the first place, who was he to begin with? We all make masks of personality to get through certain situations or to deal with certain people. “Fake it until you make it” is a common piece of fortune cookie advice, but its dangerous when the masks become so many or so popular that the real person gets forgotten. I’ve had this happen in my own life when a role or an identity became so integral to what people thought of me, that when it was no longer necessary or sustainable I found myself completely without any self-identity. It seems like the “Jim Carrey” we all thought was authentic turned into a mask that became suffocating to Carrey. I’m glad he was able to get perspective on it, and I’d rather have him happy and not making films than burning himself on a pyre of our own expectations like so many comedians before him.
“All decisions are ultimately based out of love or fear. Choose love.” In the 1990s, Jim Carrey was THE biggest star in the world. He was a comedic superstar that hit like an atomic bomb. His rise to superstardom was very similar to Eddie Murphy’s a decade earlier. Both were stand-ups that got featured on a sketch comedy show (Murphy on SNL and Carrey on In Living Color), and then exploded into feature films. Carrey had a string comedic hits, followed by two outstanding dramatic turns in The Truman Show and The Man in the Moon. The Oscars, though, weren’t about to nominate a guy like Jim Carrey. He wasn’t elite enough for them (the Golden Globes did, bless them), but Carrey took it personally, and not too long after….he stopped trying. The last really great movie Carrey made was 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His comedies have been flops, and this dramatic efforts few and far between, mostly misguided. He’s currently developing a Showtime show for next year. It’s so sad because his story is so insipring, and the talent is in there. I just don’t know what would bring it back out at this point. But listening to this speech about why he chose to pursue his dream and his gift; you want him back. You want his brilliance harnessed again. I’m rooting for you, Jim. There’s still time.
This is done by Absolute Motivation, the same YouTube channel that created this absolutely beautiful Robin Williams tribute I used a few months back.
Another sad passing this month. Comedian Jonathan Winters has passed away from natural causes. Winters was a pioneering force in improv comedy and helped inspire the careers of later comics such as Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. Winters starred with Williams in Mork & Mindy and films like The Loved One and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Witners was 87.