In Dumb and Dumber To, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are back and as dumb as ever. It’s been exactly 20 years and Lloyd has to get snapped out of the comatose state that he’s been in, so that the two best friends can go on a road trip to find a child Harry never knew he had, in order to help him with the kidney transplant that he desperately needs. The zany sequel also stars Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, Rachel Melvin and Steve Tom.
During a conference at the film’s press day, actress Kathleen Turner (who plays Fraida Felcher, Harry’s ex-girlfriend and the key to finding his long-lost daughter) talked about which of her own films she’d love to do a sequel for, whether she was a fan of the Farrelly brothers’ previous work, how she felt about her look in the film, the type of roles that attract her, the different ways that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels work, the hardest scene for her to get through without laughing, and the advice that she’d give to young actresses looking for longevity in the industry. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
KATHLEEN TURNER: Well, I wouldn’t mind doing Serial Mom again. There are always more people to kill, aren’t there? There are always people doing things wrong who need to be taught, for their own good. That’s doable.
Are you a fan of the Farrelly brothers’ previous work?
TURNER: Well, I saw Dumb and Dumber 1 and thought it was really stupid, which it is and it’s supposed to be. One of the things I like about them is that their humor is kind, and they almost reminded me of John Waters, in that sense. So much of the humor nowadays is rather mean-spirited. It’s based on someone’s humiliation. There’s a sweetness to the Farrellys’ humor. Yeah, these guys are really dumb. They’re really stupid. But that doesn’t make them bad people. In fact, the people who do look down on them, usually get their comeuppance. I like that. I like that there is a sweetness in this humor.
What did you think about your look in this movie?
TURNER: I thought I better look pretty tacky. God bless her, but Fraida is not a classy woman. Actually, I was rather delighted by the thought that it would give me the opportunity to say, in my own way, “No, I don’t look like I did 30 years ago. Get over it.” That tickled my funny bone, and it suits the character.
You’ve always played characters who are tough women. Are you still able to find those types of roles?
TURNER: Most of the work now, I’m thrilled to say, is stage. That’s my life. So this year, I have played Mother Courage, which is certainly no fainting flower. In Bakersfield Mist, a new play that I just finished, in the West End in London, I played a woman who lives in a trailer park. She probably just finished high school, but she found a painting she believes is a Jackson Pollock, and she sets out to try to prove it. It becomes a confrontation between her and this retired director of the Museum of Metropolitan Art. She stands her ground, in every way. The roles that I am attracted to are women who try to do something about their lives, and not a woman who waits for some circumstance or man to come rescue her. I have no interest in that. The bottom line really, truly is, if you take the script and you take the woman’s character out of it, does anything change, other than that the man doesn’t have a girlfriend or a mother. If the story doesn’t change, they don’t need me.
Is this the kind of role that you’re surprised to see in a comedy?
TURNER: Obviously, you can’t take Fraida out of this, or you wouldn’t have the daughter, you wouldn’t have the pursuit, and you wouldn’t have the story. So, Fraida is essential to this film. More than that, in this particular style of film, she’s essential because she is what I call a semblance of normalcy. The world of Dumb and Dumber is pretty weird. This is just a little bit of almost real world, so this character is essential. The idea behind doing comedies is that you go home a little happier. Suffering and sobbing and crying and dying all day gets to you, after while, but it has its place. I was the head of the jury at the Chicago Film Festival, and the festival opened with Liv Ullmann’s directorial film Miss Julie, from the [August] Strindberg play, where she suffers, and then she’s told to go kill herself in the barn and she says, “All right.” That is not a character that I will play. But, I was thinking about that set and Jessica Chastain, who did an excellent job in what I consider a terrible script because you have to like Strindberg, and for at least 50% of the film, she was crying. I don’t want to work like that. It’s exhausting and depressing. I’d much rather do a comedy.
How was your experience of working with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels? Are their approaches to acting similar to or different from your own?
TURNER: Jeff and I are very similar. We come from the same stage background. Jeff is a stunning theater actor. He’s really, really good. We understand each other and have the same language, in a way that I don’t have with Jim. The first time Jim and I worked together on Peggy Sue Got Married, but he was very young then. He was not yet developed, in many ways. His brain just takes over. The ideas pop, and they lead him in all these different directions. Every once in awhile, you have to go, “Jim, come back here. Let’s finish this.” But, it’s exciting. The truth is, he can do it because he does it so well. He may get this idea that seems hair-brained, but he pulls it off. You’ve just gotta go, “Wow!” It was a good set. It was a good feeling. The Farrelly brothers are easy-going. Bob stays back at video village. Peter is out adjusting and directing people. It’s loose. It’s nice.
Were any of your scenes with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels particularly difficult to get through?
TURNER: One of the hardest things was when they were drinking the embalming fluid because they were doing really gross stuff with their tongues. I finally had to say, “Please stop!” But the one that made me laugh, because of the idea of it, was when they show up at Fraida’s door and they’ve got the wrong side of the envelope. That was just a funny idea. That made me laugh.
The Farrelly brothers are known for their collaborative spirit. Were you able to contribute your own lines and ideas?
TURNER: I don’t think I’m anything like the improviser that Jim is. I’m not. I do better with at least an outline. In that sense, the Farrellys were pushing me a little. They were saying, “Come on, go ahead. If you’ve got something, go ahead with it.” They were pushing me to be improvise more than I usually do. That was fun, but a little scary. I don’t think I’m a great improviser, but I was okay.
What advice would you give to young actresses who are trying to have a successful career in the industry?
TURNER: I do teach, in New York, mostly, though I do master classes wherever I’m working, across the country. One of the things I do tell young women, if they want to pursue a career in acting, is to get good stage training. It is essential to have a good basis in stage technique. You can move into film easily, and acquire more skill and more understanding, but you can’t necessarily go the other way around. For women, longevity of career will very much be on stage. The roles that I get to play now, of these extraordinary women, will not be on film. They’re not commercial enough. I’m quoting a studio executive. What does he know?! Anyway, my point is that, if you’re asking about a long career, you need stage.
Are you still writing?
TURNER: Yeah, I’m working on an acting book with a professor at the University of Portland, on what I think about how to act. It’s an acting textbook that we’re still working on and editing.
Dumb and Dumber To opens in theaters on November 14th.