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Carrey courts controversy, co-star in 'Me, Myself and Irene'

Jim Carrey at the premiere of "Me, Myself & Irene" on June 16 in Los Angeles  

June 22, 2000
Web posted at: 10:19 a.m. EDT (1419 GMT)

In this story:

Cows, chickens and controversy

Carreying on with Zellweger

Leaving normal


NEW YORK (CNN) -- You can't accuse Jim Carrey, arguably Hollywood's king of physical comedy, of holding a grudge against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He's talking about the folks that, you might recall, snubbed Carrey not once but twice come Oscar time, when the comedian tried his hand at "serious" films.

"I honestly feel that I am so gifted in my life that, I swear to God, I don't sweat those things," says the actor, in New York promoting his latest comedic escapade, "Me, Myself and Irene."

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"I think it would be ungrateful. I have a great life, I have great people in my life, I'm able as a person who came through talking through his butt, I'm able to work with Peter Weir (in 'The Truman Show') and Milos Forman (in 'Man on the Moon') in serious projects. I also understand that the academy and their experiences of me over five or six movies was a very crazy, comedic persona. And in two dramatic films, they're just not going to bend that far."

Cows, chickens and controversy

On the heels of "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon," his two serious movies, Carrey has switched gears and returned to his comic roots. "Irene" is his second outing with the gross-out comedy masters the Farrelly brothers, who worked with Carrey on the hit "Dumb and Dumber."

Jim Carrey's character, Hank Baileygates, is quieted by Renee Zellweger (Irene) in the movie "Me, Myself & Irene"  

The movie, which has Carrey portraying a man with two dueling personalities in love with Irene (played by real-life flame Renee Zellweger), already has mental health advocates up in arms. They aren't amused by what they view as the film's negative portrayal of the mentally ill.

Carrey isn't bothered.

"At the heart of a movie like this, there's a very good heart," he said. "There's a very good intention, and that is to make people not care and to nail the things that we all do and all talk about but nobody has the guts to show."

In "Irene," Carrey certainly does that, and more. Without giving too much of the plot away, the film has Carrey breast-feeding, getting up close and personal with a cow, beating a child, defecating in public places and frolicking with sexual toys.

And it's the breast-feeding scene that left even Carrey at a loss for words.

"It's very rare when I get to a place where I actually am kind of humiliated," he says. "That was one of those ones. I might have thought that up. I don't know. I forget what the process on that was. I was embarrassed for the girl."

Nevertheless, the actor says he's willing to try most anything.

"I was gonna say (I wouldn't do) bestiality, but I've done that. I don't know where the line is, yet."

Carreying on with Zellweger

His film may be ruffling a few feathers now, but it's "Irene"'s back-story that made headlines months ago.

The twice-divorced Carrey and Zellweger, his on-screen love interest, met on the set of "Irene." But according to cast members, they kept their budding romance so under wraps that most of the other actors learned about it the same way we did - on television entertainment shows, several months after the film wrapped. Now, Carrey and Zellweger, currently in London shooting "Bridget Jones' Diary," are doing their best to keep their relationship private.

"Aside from giving personal details, because I think that what we are is too special to share with strangers and the world I will say that we had the most wonderful, old-fashioned, tremendously something-you-dream-about-happening-and-never-happens-anymore type of courtship," said Carrey. "We're having a great time. I think she's absolutely a gem of a human being."

Zellweger is clearly uncomfortable when asked about the public's fascination with the couple.

"It's silly, kind of, because it's all kind of protected. It's not like that from the inside," she said. "We were comfortable around each other really quickly and we became fast friends. We did have a good time during the day. Work was a nice place to be. I liked him, a lot, but you're not going (to the set) for the love connection.

"It was a very natural, innocent, old-fashioned way of getting to know a person. I loved being around him and really gravitated towards him. We had fun. When the picture wrapped, we'd spoken a couple of times on the phone and then all those rumors came out that I was dating him. I was so mad. I said, 'No, it's not true.' And then I went home and I went, 'God, I do miss him.'"

As an actress, Zellweger sings Carrey's praises.

"It's amazing what he managed to accomplish in playing this role," Zellweger said. "I was mesmerized, watching it happen. I don't know anybody else who can do the things he can do, quite honestly."

Leaving normal

Carrey is a Canadian high school dropout who spent years working in smoky comedy clubs, moved to Hollywood in his late teens to pursue stardom and did a stint on the low-brow TV variety show "In Living Color." In 1994, he broke through as the haplessly goofy private eye in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." Today, he's a member of Hollywood's million-dollar club, commanding staggering salaries for his work. He is said to have earned $20 million for "Irene."

Next up, Carrey will be seen as the title character in Ron Howard's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Yet the big-name projects and huge paychecks notwithstanding, Carrey insists that off-screen, he lives a normal life.

"There hasn't been a big change in my world, except for the fact that everybody knows me," he said. "That makes you self-conscious and think about sucking your gut in. But my life is getting simpler and simpler. Somehow there's some innate thing, a feeling you get from picking up the room or doing some laundry, that makes you feel great, like you did something.

"When I first got famous, I bought into the idea that you should hire people to do everything, because you can. I wanted to be (Batman's alter ego) Bruce Wayne or something. And I just realized that I've got to wash my own cape."

Zellweger to star in 'Bridget Jones' Diary'
February 24, 2000
Review: Nothing is cool in 'Man on the Moon'
December 23, 1999
Carrey, Weir banking on 'The Truman Show'
June 4, 1998

Twentieth Century Fox
Me, Myself and Irene

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