Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel Interview – YES MAN

     December 17, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Opening this Friday is the new Jim Carrey comedy “Yes Man”. In the film, Jim stars as Carl Allen, a guy whose life is going nowhere—the operative word being “no”—until he signs up for a self-help program based on one simple covenant: say yes to everything…and anything. Unleashing the power of “YES” begins to transform his life in unexpected ways, getting him promoted at work and opening the door to a new romance. But his willingness to embrace every opportunity might just become too much of a good thing.

Anyhow, I recently participated in a pretty crazy press conference with Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel (his love interest in the film) and the transcript is below. While I usually recommend reading interviews…this one will be a lot funnier if you listen. If you’d like the audio, click here.

Finally, if you want to watch some movie clips from “Yes Man”, click here. Again, “Yes Man” gets released this Friday.

Question: Zooey I understand you had something to do with the lyrics and…

ZD: And the music.

Okay, everything. Was it fun working with some girls for a change? What was the dynamic like working and did you enjoy the music?

ZD: Yeah, I usually write music alone, so it was fun to write with other people, and all those girls are so great, and so talented and funny and smart and it was a fun process cause we had a week to rehearse and…

Was it Van Iva was that…

ZD: Van Iva, is the name of the band, so I just joined their band for a week and it was really fun.

JC: She blew us away with that stuff, we weren’t expecting that. So…

ZD: Stop!

JC: We were there on the set, it was just like what? Fantastic, loved it.

A lot of us got to see you do the jump Jim, so we witnessed that it really was you, but I want to know, at this point, I mean back then you were there, and it was the moment and everything, but in retrospect, what did you think of the jump, what was going on in your mind and what do you think about it now?

JC: Death. Lots of death. You know, thoughts of crossing over (laughter) were actually going through my mind. It was very strange, it was like well they do this all the time, this is no big, they got this down, it’s no problem and then I got to the bridge, and that was intense enough. I went, oh my god, what have I done? What am I doing here? But when I got my feet up on the ledge, it literally was like a frieght train going through my veins, through my entire body, the whole time, until I jumped and everything. It was insain. It was insain. It was unbelievable. And I actually had post traumatic stress, after it. (laughter) For about a week after, I dreamt of hitting the ground, all those things. It was amazing. So those people that do that all the time, they are addicted to some kind of adrenaline rush like you would not believe. They just do not stop.

When you were swinging upside down, and you had this thing with the cellphone, so was that all one jump or did you have a reset of some sort?

JC: No, I did it in one jump. I’m always trying to complicate things, for some reason, just like at the last second I’ll go, well maybe I can get that in. And stuff like that. I always make it really hard for myself, so I had to make a little styrofoam phone so it wouldn’t hit me in the lip or something, but I put it in the pocket and they said, you’re not going to do the scene when you get to the bottom there, and I went, no, I’ll do the scene. (laughter) I gave it a shot, and I did it. Once I knew I was alive, I was fine. (laughter)

Would you jump again?

JC: No. I did that, cross it off the list. (laughter) They didn’t want me to do it at all and I said, well I’m going to do it once in my life, so you might as well get it on camera.

Jim, when you look back at your own life, have you been mostly a yes man or a no man over the years?

JC: I would say yes, even when I say no. (laughter) Because sometimes saying no is saying yes to your own self worth. Do you know what I’m saying? (laughter) No, I like to enjoy life, I like to engage in life, so I would say I’m a yes man. I said yes to so many things, from a sex change to gastric by-pass surgery. (laughter) So, it’s always paid off for me. (laughter) I’ve kept the weight off. (laughter) I have. I work hard at it.

Jim, you’re a very positive guy, I know from talking to you in the past, but was it hard to actually make fun of a philosophy you personally subscribe to? You believe in the power of positive thinking.

JC: Yeah. No, everything can be made fun of, I mean the most serious things are ripe for making fun of them. I have trouble, I have spiritual beliefs but I could literally go out and make an entire comedy routine about and tour as some sort of spiritual guru, but it kind of goes against that I actually believe the things. And so I’m always kind of caught in the middle.

ZD: Humor is a part of spirituality.

JC: That is true. We must laugh at ourselves. Yes. I had no trouble at all.

Zooey, the scenes at Spaceland were very cool, and I was wondering, were you consulted at all in getting the culture, the indie rock scene in Los Angeles just right?

ZD: Was I consulted?

Yeah, did you work with…

ZD: It wasn’t so hard. Yeah, I mean, I’m in a band myself and I write music and I do go to see shows a lot and so it wasn’t really that, I don’t know, it wasn’t too much of stretch for me. (laughs)

Question for Jim, a lot of your movies have really great messages and I wanted to know what you wanted people to walk away from after they saw this movie?

JC: Mostly just to have a good laugh. And to feel good in their heart. I think it’s not only a funny movie, but I think you really believe the love story and the friendships and so I think there’s a lot to walk away with, but I guess the only thing is if there is a message, it’s just engage in life, you know say yes more than you do no, maybe a little bit more than you did before, and life kind of turns out all right. Usually you regret the things you say no to.

For Jim, this question has to do with the current state of things, were either in a recession or depression, incidentally you play a liberal loans officer, but…

JC: I’m not in a recession. (laughter) I’m doing well. I’m doing incredibly well. (laughter) I just want to be honest. I really am kicking ass. (laughter)

The movie going public might have to face a recession at the very least.

JC: I believe in them. And I believe that they can create their reality. And that weekend, they’re going to go, you know what, there is no recession, there is no problem, I’m going to spend my money, I’m going to go in there, I’m going to walk out with a smile on my face and say yes to life as is. (laughter) How’s that?

Given that climate, is that going to affect the choices you make? Is this a good time to make comedies?

JC: This is what comedy’s about. To laugh at the pain, laugh at the confusion, whatever, I mean, you need it. Comedy’s always welcome. But especially in times like this. It’s like, what else do you want to do? You want to have some positive happen in your life. I think this is it. This is the answer to everything. (laughter) Yes Man is the answer.

ZD: Yes it is, yes. I think the best comedies came out during the depression. Personally.

Have you guys ever said no in the past, and looking back now especially after this movie, you kind of regret it?

ZD: It’s exhausting I think if you, to just say really yes to everything for real. Even if you do it for a day.

Jim, you’ve had a few kind of dark roles recently and this is really like a throwback kind of silly Jim Carrey comedy. How’s it feel to be doing that kind of movie again?

JC: I like doing everything. I love it all, so it’s just being creative. I just like being creative. Whatever way I have to do it, and I just want to tell stories. So it’s really the storytelling aspect that’s great, and but it’s always fun. It’s always fun to do something that ultimately it’s not the money, it’s certainly not the fame because it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s really the person in the seat you think about. When you sit in the rooms and write, and you do all the things you have to do, it really comes down to thinking about someone sitting in a seat laughing. And that’s it, when you do a movie like this, it’s really that that gets me off, the idea of people actually laughing and maybe having something to think about when they leave the theatre.

Jim, there’s a quote attibuted to you in the press notes, with respect to this character where you say that you’ve been there yourself at times in your life, that you know exactly where he’s coming from. Can you amplify that comment?

JC: Well, I go in and out of shut in. My social life goes in bursts where I get, oh I got to get out and do something man, I got to do something, I’ll plan a trip and go on a motorcycle trip down the Baja for 900 miles and I’ll hang out with my friends for like a month, and then they’ll never see me for two months or three months or whatever and I won’t answer any calls. I mean, I go back and forth, so it’s just kind of a see-saw effect. But I need both. And I don’t think I’m ever going to have the kind of life or schedule that I can really kind of have a steady way of doing things. You know, sometimes I get real busy and all I want to do is hide when I get home, and sometimes I’m not so busy, and I want to reach out to friends and stuff. So, different things. But I understand this character definitely. I mean it was my idea to do the dead guy on the couch. (laughs) That’s kind of my own way of looking at myself sometimes is yeah, dying alone. (laughs)

Working off the earlier question, what’s the stupidest thing you ever said yes to, that you’re willing to admit to?

JC: Sea Cadets. I was like eleven years old, I joined Sea Cadets, which is like a military version of boy scouts, and they shave your head and they humiliate you, and they yell at you and they parade you around in front of the rest of the people you know in the town and stuff, you parade around in a uniform on, but you know what, if I hadn’t of done that, I wouldn’t know that I’m a useless maggot. (laughter) So I’m glad. So yes always leads to something good.

ZD: I accidentally entered a youth pageant when I was 14. That’s like a beauty pageant, but without te beauty. (laughter) It was terrible.

What do you mean accidentally?

ZD: I thought it was a talent show, my choir teacher led me on.

JC: Then like a fetus should win that.

ZD: Yes.

JC: It’s a youth pageant.

ZD: Yeah, it’s true.

JC: Then it should be the youngest one. It should just be a handkerchief (laughter) wins the competition. That’s horrible. (laughter)

This question is for Jim, your character plays guitar and you sing sometimes and also speaks Korean fluently. But how difficult and how was the preparation, the process and which attraction, like rollerblading, or jumping, or playing guitar or speaking Korean, which one do you kind of regret, oh I said yes to do this project?

JC: (laughs) Well I never said I regret doing this project. Well, maybe there was a couple of moments. But I think, well the Korean I just picked that up on the set the day of, I just picked that up. (laughter) But I just hung out with a couple of Korean people on the set and that was it. I just did it. I just riffed. (laughter) No, actually it took about (laughs) four weeks of everyday, studying it phonetically. It was so difficult, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Is to study Korean phonetically to get it down. And then to have a Korean coach, who literally is afraid to go back to Korea, if I get it wrong. (laughter) He’s telling me, no, no, no, this is serious. Seriously. I will be hurt. (laughter) And so I hope I got it right, but yeah, he was on me pretty hard. It took awhile. It took awhile. But I’m dedicated. I’m really dedicated.

In this film, both of your characters Carl and Renee, are very into doing spontaneous, romantic things, and what’s the most spontaneous, romantic thing you have done with a love interest?

JC: Everything I do is carefully planned. And done by committee. (laughs)

What was it like having to keep the energy up with him (Jim)? Like your characters’ energy is so up and so positive, and then it’s against him, who’s so big, what was that like for you?

ZD: Well, it’s so fun to work with Jim cause he’s so fun, and I just used fun twice in a sentence. That would be like, nice job Zooey. (laughter) He’s so fun and fun, totally fun, (laughter).

JC: Think of something. Hurry!

ZD: But yeah, it’s very contagious, and the fun (laughter) is very contagious.

So, (unidentified words) any days where you came in, you were like just…

ZD: It was always delightful. (laughter) And so it was always so amusing on set, so it was pretty (laughter) it’s hard to answer this question, because I’m just getting mocked at every turn. (panel goes “Awwww”) But no, it was wonderful and I’m a pretty energetic person myself, it’s always good I think in general to have like different energies, on screen, like it’s nice to have like different characters go at different speeds, just like different people work at different speeds and…

JC: Yeah, if we were the same person, it would be a drag. It would. And it wouldn’t be attractive for her at all. (laughter) But it was nice cause she’s completely kind of a different tone than me, so it was great, and our characters kind of really worked well off each other, I thought.

ZD: It was really fun.

JC: Yeah, it was fun, (laughter) but I think also, I think you really believe it, you know you believe the relationship at that certain point when we’re in the barn and we have that moment, you really kind of accept it and you can see why they love each other.

What are your plans for the holidays and what sort of Christmas gifts are you giving considering these tough economic times?

JC: I’m bailing out the economy. (laughter) No one’s getting anything. Isn’t that enough, to bail out the economy? No one should buy anything.

ZD: I’m going to bake things, I’m going to buy some flour and some sugar. I’m a fan of making bar cookies and brownies. Well actually for Thanksgiving I made toffee bit brownies, they had toffee bits in them and roasted almonds. They were, I didn’t actually eat them, but they were good, according to everybody else.

I have a question for Jim and Zooey. There’s some extreme sport at the end over the credits, did either one of you give any thought to doing any part of that yourselves?

ZD: Absolutely not. For me.

JC: I tried. (laughs) I tried man. Well I stood in the suit really well…

ZD: Me not so well…

JC: And I tried to get one shot. It’s just literally the shot where I’m leaving frame, and I first hit the deck. And we did a shot where I went probably about 40 feet (laughs). And it was terrifying. I mean it was so terrifying. It was ridiculous. Out of control, don’t know how this guy does it…

ZD: Yeah, Johnny Brando, he’s kind of a master at his sport. He made it up.

JC: He’s unbelievable. Well I saw it on the internet, that’s how it got in the movie. I saw, I’m watching this rocket man that goes down the French Alps at 70 miles an hour, he’s passing motorcycles, and things like that. People in cars are going whaah! (laughter) and whiplash and it was the coolest thing I ever saw. So I said we got to get these suits. We’ve got to do this. (laughs) And it was so terrifying…

ZD: Terrifying.

JC: I mean you even almost went off the cliff at one point.

ZD: To stand up on that hill just like on roller blades was terrifying. Like I can’t imagine being on…

JC: Yeah. Did you ever try to stop on roller blades going downhill? I mean it was just insane and your chin is this close to the ground, it’s like, it’s really hard not to break with it.

What hill were you on? Where were you?

ZD: We were like up in Malibu, like up one of those, Rock Canyon

JC: 23rd Junction.

ZD: Okay.

JC: GPS off.

Jim, at the beginning, your character is really at a point where he says no to everything, due to his romantic failure and everything else he feels complacent about. Why do you think he gets to that point? And if you were to give advice to someone who was at that point, romantically down in the dumps. what would you tell them to do?

JC: Kill yourself. (laughter) Eat a ton of sweets and take your life. (laughter) All right, option two. Let’s go with option two. I would say hang in there, invite some people over, (laughter) and I don’t know, I think the devil works for God, that’s my concept. The bad times are supposed to force you into actually getting out of your shell and going out into the world and making friendships and having love and being Michael in everyway. You know, he’s been through some hell. But he got to that place, so I guess those times in your life force you to become a better person.

And Zooey, just for you, when you first meet him, your character kind of impulsively kisses him. Advice?

ZD: You mean to make out with somebody that you just met? Absolutely not. No. (laughter) I mean, it’s a great idea. What I mean to say is yes. (laughter)

JC: So you’ve never done that, you’ve never kissed somebody when you first met them?

ZD: No.

JC: You’ve never like grabbed some guy and said I saw you and I just had to have you? (laughter)

ZD: No. Have you done that?

JC: I’ve never grabbed a guy and told him that I have to have him. (laughter) Except on camera.

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