Jim Carrey was the biggest comedy star of the ‘90s with his hit movies Ace Venture: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar, and The Truman Show. Then he proved himself adept at drama with Man on the Moon, The Majestic, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His new character on Kidding is also struggling to make people accept there’s more to him.
Jeff Pickles (Carrey) is a children’s television show host. One year after the death of his own son, he wants to do a show about death for children. His producer (Frank Langella) doesn’t want Mr. Pickles compromising the kid-friendly formula. Carrey gave an interview with the TCA this summer about the new series. Kidding premieres Sunday, September 9, 2018 on Showtime.
Jim Carrey Kidding Interview:
Did you go back and watch Mr. Rogers preparing for Kidding?
Jim Carrey: “I’ve seen plenty of Mr. Rogers, sure. I’ve also lampooned him on In Living Color so I studied him a little bit, but he’s an energy. It wasn’t an impression in any way whatsoever. He’s just an energy, a softness, an understanding and just this beautiful open person.”
What’s your opinion about comedy on the big screen now? Is streaming just better?
Jim Carrey: “There are so many choices, so many ways, so many forms to do things in. Now it’s just pick of the litter, wherever you want to go. There’s so much good stuff everywhere. The hardest thing is to cut through the clutter.
The only hope we have of cutting through the clutter these days is either you go bigger than everybody else where you’re lopping 10 heads off per episode, or you hit a nerve where you touch people in a place that’s real. Nothing gets to the back row like truth. If truth is in there, then people will be interested. They want to see themselves. They want to see their own truth.”
How much television do you watch?
Jim Carrey: “I watch a ton of stuff and it’s all very disparate, all over the place. I watch the stupidest sh*t that you would ever imagine that a person could watch, and then I also look up Gnosticism, whatever.
The fact is I want to know things. The internet is a place to know things. You can get a college education. You can get a PhD. Well, maybe not a PhD because you actually have to put something out to get a PhD, but you can get a damn good education just by tapping into social media, tapping into media.”
What’s your favorite TV comedy of all time?
Jim Carrey: “Well, that’s really hard because I go back to Ed Norton, Ralph Kramden, the basics. The Honeymooners. The Honeymooners set it down for everybody. Also, Dick Van Dyke was huge. Dick Van Dyke.”
Is Dr. Robotnik going to be an animated character?
Jim Carrey: “No, he’s live action but there’s animation in the piece.”
How are you going to create him?
Jim Carrey: “Magic, mixed with desperation.”
Do you look at Jeff Pickles as somewhat an inverse of The Truman Show where that was a very genuine person living in this very constructed world, and Mr. Pickles has this very elaborate facade, but the real things are starting to crack through it?
Jim Carrey: “Yeah. I think the idea of identity, the search for identity, what it is, who we are, what’s an authentic person is a theme that’s always been attractive to me, and I think there’s definitely something in this piece that calls to me as far as the idea of being hit by a freight train in life and trying to hang on to the idea of yourself that you had before it happened that’s really attractive. That’s an incredible concept to me.”
What was it like collaborating with Michel Gondry again?
Jim Carrey: “Well, he, for me, was the linchpin. I was incredibly interested in the material, but when Michel came on board, I thought, ‘I get to go play with a teammate, and that’s really wonderful.’ So, it was a thrill.
I mean, it’s funny because you learn to trust somebody, and that has a lot to do with it. It’s also just it’s a matter of seeing what happened before. And some of the things that I questioned before that I went, ‘Oh, wow. He really had a vision for what he was doing,’ and there were many times on Eternal Sunshine where I said, ‘It doesn’t make any sense at all to me.’ And he said, ‘Well, why don’t you try? How do you know? How do you know what’s in my head?’ And it was great that way.
So trust has happened, and I think anybody creative who is honest has electricity between them, and we have that for sure. But he was surprised a couple times. He came up and said, ‘You’re not arguing with me. What’s happening?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I guess I like the ideas.'”
Do you have input on the Mr. Pickles show?
Jim Carrey: “We’ve all been very creative as far as the creation of the puppets and things like that are concerned. Oops was an idea that came to me when I was thinking how could I personify on this show, some kind of character that gives people the excuse to be flawed? How would he give children an excuse to make mistakes? And my idea was that the Oops shows up in everyone’s life. So, we’ve had this wonderful creative process developing the puppets together.
We have the most unbelievable puppet team, just incredible people, and it really is that type of children’s show vibe on the set when we get working with the puppeteers because they just bring with them this beautiful…I don’t know…appreciation of that simplistic, simple communication with children. There’s a vibe about these people. They are willing to do anything. It’s all fun to them. They want to jump in and be creative, and so it’s just such a wonderful feeling to go from super serious, whatever, to go be surrounded by a bunch of people that create these illusions for a living. They are lovely people.
I don’t know if that answers your question, but I’m making sound and that’s the important thing.”
You always have some crazy hair, from Ace Ventura to Dumb and Dumber. How does Mr. Pickles’ hair compare?
Jim Carrey: “I wanted to make it as hard as possible for myself to look attractive to anyone on the Earth. I was in teenage runaway mode. You want to change yourself when you get a part, man. You want to do some things. I don’t feel crazy at all. I think it’s good. I think it’s just, to me, it’s a juvenile kind of like a children’s hairdo, like an arrested development-type situation where you are being something for them, and that’s kind of the point.”