Jim Carrey stars in Lemony Snicket
Featured InterviewBeverly Hills, CA – If you are looking for a happy, uplifting story to read, about the versatile actor Jim Carrey, then I would suggest, please, STOP. NOW! And look elsewhere. I am sorry to be the one to tell you that Jim Carrey’s latest movie, "Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events," is indeed, most unfortunate, especially if you, the moviegoer, is in search of a funny, cheerful Holiday film.
Contrary to what many may think, Jim Carrey does not play "Lemony Snicket." Rather, he plays Count Olaf, a mean spirited, filthy, disgusting creature of a man, who pretends to be but is not a Count. What is he, you may ask? He is an evil man, intent on stealing the fortune from the Boudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny. And if he kills them or any of their guardians in the process he will be all the happier. Count Olaf is the devil incarnate.
I had the chance to sit with Jim Carrey, not in the nasty, vile, decrepit mansion that he resides in during the course of the movie "Lemony Snicket." No, a place the Bouldelaire orphans would be accustomed to, The Four Seasons’ Regent Beverly Wilshire.
On the afternoon I sit with the forty-two year old Carrey, aka Count Olaf, he is just as evil as evil can be. The man is nominated for Golden Globe for his fine performance in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," yet doesn’t even acknowledge the honors bestowed upon him by his peers.
"Who is this Jim Carrey you are referring to?" he asks. "I am Count Olaf, please. Thank you." Well, then. OK.
Paramount Pictures seems to be on a winning streak, especially with the help of their Nickelodeon Pictures division. Recently they released "Sponge Bob: The Movie" upon the world. And it was a huge hit. This, "Lemony Snicket," is poised to be the Holiday Season’s biggest family hit, yet that is no surprise.
There are a series of books in stores, reminiscent, but darker than, the Harry Potter books, that began in 1999. Almost as many children around the nation who have devoured Harry Potter have inhaled "Lemony Snicket’s" Unfortunate Events. To date, there are eleven. (The movie is based on the first three.)
"I am Count Olaf," Carrey announces once again. "I loved being able to portray myself on screen in ‘Lemony Snicket,’" he says with a snarl. "One of these days, in another movie, I will find that dastardly Lemony and put an end to his misery of hiding from me."
Lemony Snicket, for the ignorant, is the narrator of the books, who may or may not be one of the Baudelaire’s relatives in hiding. (Future movies will reveal a lot more.)
"You call my movie a scary movie?" asks Olaf, nee Carrey. "Please. I grew up on movies such as ‘Bambi’ where his poor mother is shot and killed at the very beginning of the film, leaving him an orphan. Or how about ‘Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang?’ There you have an evil man, intent on trapping and caging all the children in the town, what with? Enticing them with candy and ice cream. I might be on the trail of the Baudelaire’s multi-million dollar fortune, and might even stoop to slapping them around a bit, but I do make it a fair fight. As I recall, they win every time."
Well, you will have to see the movie to find out if the three Baudelaire orphans win their battles, yes, three, against Count Olaf in the first of a planned series of "Lemony" movies but don’t let that fool you.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my feature: this is not a happy story. The Baudelaire are bequeathed to their closest, (the word closest here meaning the one living in closest proximity), living relative, the first being Count Olaf. He is exposed for a fraud and runs out of town for his life – only to reappear in a disguise, in order to steal the children away from their new caregiver, not once, but twice. First from Uncle Monty, (played by Billy Connolly), and finally by Aunt Josephine, (played by the inestimable Meryl Streep.)
I did say, this is not a happy story. The uncle and aunt do not survive to the end. One is murdered by Count Olaf, who frames an innocent snake, the other is thrown from a boat and eaten by a swarm of leeches.
How on earth could this be a movie released with a PG rating at Christmas, you may rightfully ask? Again, as you know, if you did not grow up under a rock, children cannot be exclusively exposed to ‘Telletubby-like" and/or "Sesame Street-like" worlds. No. They need a dose of reality now and then. And why not at the Boudelaire’s expense? I see no reason why not.
The world is not sugarcoated and neither is "Lemony Snicket." But neither is "Harry Potter." You knew that.
When I had the opportunity to speak to Jim Carrey, later in the afternoon, when it seemed that Count Olaf was far, far away, I learned that he is an amazing person. I had been told that when he was just starting out, before "In Living Color," when he was doing stand-up in Hollywood every night, sometimes bombing, sometimes making the crowds laugh, he would drive up to Mullholland Drive. On one occasion this is what happened. "Yes, I was so much in the moment," he says. "The moment of wanting to think ten years ahead. OK," he laughs, "I was being delusional." What he did was write a $10 MILLION check to himself and put it in his wallet. And then thought about what he would do with his life if he actually ever had that much money. He didn’t care if he was famous. He just wanted to know what it would be like to have $10 million. And he dreamed about it many, many nights, when he drove to rest area on Mullholland Drive, parked his car, sat on the ledge overlooking Los Angeles, under the starry, smoggy sky, looking out towards the Pacific.
"Well, it happened," says Carrey. "I never expected that it would. But I am eternally grateful to the powers that be and whomever it was that allowed for me to become the success that I am." Carrey is far from an ‘on’ person, when in public, unlike, say, Robin Williams, who cannot sit still for even a second. And he is ecstatic to have been able to create not one, not two, but three mean, menacing characters, (all played by Count Olaf), in "Lemony Snicket."
"I do not have ADD," laughs Carrey, "Contrary to what many may think. When I am not making a movie, or being asked to be ‘on,’ (as he was for ‘Lemony Snicket’), "I am me."
And that "me," if I can say so myself, is the genuine thing. Someone who grew up in Canada, became an American citizen, ("because my daughter insisted"), and makes the entire world laugh themselves silly.