MOST actors throw themselves into their roles, but when you are Jim Carrey you throw yourself off a bridge – and break three ribs – all in the name of entertainment.
The Hollywood star is making a return to comedy in the film adaptation of author Danny Wallace’s Yes Man and, just to show how game he was, Jim did his own bungee jump for one of the scenes.
“There were several things on this movie where you’re making a reckoning. Every time you show up on the set, it’s like, ‘OK, could die today’,” he says, with that famously manic smile.
Despite an attack of nerves, Jim successfully pulled off the daring plunge – but it was while performing a routine stunt fall that he broke the ribs.
“Halfway through the pratfall I changed my plan. I’ve done pratfalls my whole life – I know how to do them – but suddenly, I decided it would be a good idea to try to get all four limbs into the frame at the same time and I came down really hard, but the comedian in me just got up, finished the scene, put an ice pack on and said ‘Can I see that back?’. All I cared about was how cool it looked.”
Yes Man follows the story of Carl Allen, a man who is stuck in a very big rut. Carl spends most of his life on his sofa, when he’s not turning down loan applications at the bank where he works.
But that all changes when he signs up for a self-help programme based on one simple rule: say “yes” to everything and anything.
Carl’s mundane life is transformed almost immediately, with success at work and in love – but can he keep saying yes to everything?
At 46, you would think The Mask star Jim would have slowed down a bit and opted out of the bungee jumping, but he says he couldn’t pass up the chance to be the Yes Man – especially because he has experienced both extremes of Carl’s life.
“I am the guy you call up sometimes and the answering service is full and it stays that way for a month-and-a-half. But with this movie, I wanted to put something out into the world that made people feel good. I was drawn to that because I feel it’s time for a paradigm shift out there, from cynicism to faith and belief in a good future.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who sees this movie in the world says ‘yes’ at least once or twice more than they would otherwise? These things do have an effect, I really believe that.”
It is Jim’s strong sense of faith and belief in himself that has propelled him to being one of Hollywood’s most recognisable – and bankable – actors.
But it hasn’t always been easy for the Canadian star. When he was just 12, his father lost his job and the Carrey family were forced to sleep in a camper van.
Jim dropped out of school and started performing stand-up in night clubs to help pay the bills.
He got into films in the early-1980s, starring alongside Clint Eastwood in The Dead Pool, the final instalment in the Dirty Harry series, before his first lead role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994.
Although the film was critically panned, it was a huge commercial success and Jim followed up with The Mask and Dumb And Dumber.
Off camera, he got married and divorced twice, had a daughter, now 21, with his first wife and was engaged to Bridget Jones actress Renee Zellweger, who he met on the set of Me, Myself And Irene.
He has struggled with criticism, depression and heartache and is now very much in love with former model and actress Jenny McCarthy.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world and I kind of feel like I’m proof of positive thought in manifestation,” he says, of his life today.
“Back in the early days, there were so many times when I went up and down and had little thrills like starring with Clint Eastwood and then was washed up and someone would say ‘he’s had his shot and it’s over’.
“It wasn’t a steady climb. It was all over the place and I really appreciate all of it now, but I never thought I was finished when people said I was finished. I just always had this underlying belief that even if I was in a wheelchair and I could only move my finger, somehow I would become the guy who does the amazing thing with his finger,” Jim jokes.
He’s now in the enviable position of being able to name Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood among his friends (“he’s such a gentleman and an amazing artist”) and Yes Man gave him the opportunity to star alongside another of his acting heroes, Terence Stamp.
The veteran English actor plays Terrence Bundley, whose positive thinking seminar changes Carl’s life.
“I’ve always been fascinated with him, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. We would speak through our people, ‘I love you and let’s do something’, and this went on for years and then this part finally came up and I thought he was perfect for it.
“He’s an amazing actor. He’s committed, but he’s also got a real nutty quality to him. He’s got madness in his eyes – he’s definitely lived a life.”
The film also co-stars 28-year-old Zooey Deschanel as quirky singer and photographer Allison, who Carl falls for when they meet by chance after his epiphany.
In the most romantic scene in the film, the pair sneak into the iconic Hollywood Bowl and sing a Beatles song on stage – inspired by Jim doing the same thing when he was younger.
Looking back at the film and other choices he has made over his life, Jim says he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I just do what I’m attracted to. It’s like the woman who stands out in the crowd who, for some reason, you notice. That’s the one you’re supposed to dance with at that time in your life. That’s what it is with scripts. They find you when you’re emotionally in the right place to do them.
“I don’t really regret anything I say yes to, honestly. I say yes to what is, and what’s coming, because I have a firm belief that what’s coming is going to top what’s already been.”
Meet the Dundee-born author, Page 14.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Jim’s first major lead role saw him sport a huge quiff and a Hawaiian shirt to track down the missing dolphin mascot of an American football team. The film may have earned him a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst New Star, but it also scored him millions of fans.
The Mask (1994)
The actor’s incredibly elastic face was the real star of this film, which had Jim covered in green paint to play Stanley Ipcress, a mild-mannered bank clerk who transforms into a manic superhero when he puts on the fabled mask. The film was Bafta and Oscar nominated for best effects.
The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show has apparently given its name to a psychological complex, Truman Show Syndrome, where sufferers genuinely believe they are the subject of a bizarre reality TV show. Before Big Brother took over our screens, Jim played the original contestant whose every move was shown on TV. Jim won a Golden Globe for his performance, which showed he could tackle drama as well as comedy.
Me, Myself And Irene (2000)
Jim returned to comedy to play a cop with a split-personality disorder who goes on the run with fugitive Irene (Renee Zellweger). The co-stars began dating, but their relationship ended in a broken engagement at the end of 2000.