Carrey discussed the film during a recent press conference in Los Angeles.
Creative Loafing: What distinguishes a Charlie Kaufman script from most of the scripts you see?
Jim Carrey: It's almost like Moses coming down from the mountain with the tablets. He's just so rock & roll, and yet at the same time he's a complete intellectual. This script seemed to have everything. For the most part, Charlie exists in this wild, intellectual world, but this script was anchored by such heart that it co-exists on an emotional level that all of us can identify with.
Is it difficult for you to tone yourself down when you're playing a rather humorless character like Joel in Eternal Sunshine?
Oh, I wouldn't say he was a humorless character at all. I think Joel has a lot of amazing things going on inside his head, and they spill out onto the page when he's drawing or writing in his journal. But then he meets the Clementine character, and she's kind of like the outward manifestation of what he's got inside that he can't express.
How have you dealt with your own memories of a romance gone sour?
You eventually learn to move on and then you're able to look at the world as a beautiful place again, sooner or later. I think the real magic of this movie is that it says you can't help who you love. You love a person for who they are, flaws and all. You accept those flaws, you accept what's wrong, and you move on. The whole romance thing comes from a different side of your brain than the logic part that's telling you this person is horrible for you, you know?
Would the idea of erasing someone from your memory ever appeal to you?
Well, I'd be lying if I said that wasn't appealing, especially in the heat of the moment. In retrospect, though, everything always seems to work out, where you can look back on something and admit that it was a disaster, but also acknowledge that there was some good there, too. A role like this requires you to open up a lot of old wounds. I came into this thinking I wanted to express a lot of my anger or resentment about past hurts. What ended up happening -- and I'm really thankful -- is that when it's all put together, it becomes almost like a love letter to everyone I'd ever loved. It sort of saved me from myself.
A lot of people like making distinctions between the extroverted sort of Jim Carrey we see in Bruce Almighty or Liar Liar and the more introspective Jim Carrey we see in The Truman Show or The Majestic.
Let's face it. It's a case of Jekyll and Hyde, plain and simple.
Do you make that sort of distinction when you're considering which projects to pursue?
Not at all. I honestly believe the scripts find you. They come to you as they come to you, and when something like this comes along, you just jump on, and that's all there is to it. There's no question. I mean, anyone would be lucky to be a part of this.