Steve Carell and Jim Carey Interview – HORTON HEARS A WHO

     March 9, 2008

Opening this Friday is “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who.” The film’s based on the classic Seuss book that was first published in 1954 and it’s about an imaginative elephant who hears a cry for help coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Suspecting there may be life on that speck and despite a surrounding community which thinks he has lost his mind, Horton is determined to help.

I saw a screening the other day and loved it. The animation’s beautiful and Jim Carey and Steve Carell were great as Horton and the mayor. I think the film’s going to make buckets of cash for Fox, and audiences will love the world of whoville.

Anyway, last weekend I got to attend a press conference with Jim and Steve and they talked about making the movie and what they have coming up. It’s a very funny transcript and worth reading. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the audio file from my recorder (I’m very mad at myself) so I can’t give you an MP3 of the interview. Again, sorry.

And if you missed the movie clips I posted a few days ago, you can watch them here. Again, “Horton” hits theaters this weekend and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Question: We all know that Dr. Seuss, you find his books in the young readers section of the bookstore or library. But I think we also know that Seuss transcends age and demographic, or whatever. Talk – in your mind, talk about yourself about, what about Horton really transcends a story for young people? Makes it for everybody? [LAUGHTER] Tell us, please.

STEVE CARELL: How does it transcend stories for young people? It’s very – you’re being very heady, right off the bat.

JIM CAREY: It hurts. It hurts.

STEVE CARELL: You know what? I don’t think, as a five or six-year-old, you think about how things transcend anything. You just think about how it resonates. However much anything resonates in a five or six-year-old. This is a book that I think resonates with kids. And they don’t understand the metaphors, and the – you know, the sort of richness to it. But at the same time, it resonates. There’s something very specific about the theme, that I think even a little kid can understand. And that is that everyone deserves an equal footing in life. And I think that’s just a very basic tenet of being a creature of the world.

JIM CAREY: Yeah. That was a really good answer.

STEVE CARELL: Just say the same thing. [LAUGHTER]

JIM CAREY: No, I think – you know, as far as kids go, the thing that attracts them to this is not the deeper concepts involved. It’s really just the fact that Seuss’s creativity was so incredible. He was such an original. And if you give a kid a character that he’s never seen before, in a world he’s never seen before, it just – they’re able to completely lose themselves in an imaginary space. And yet at the same time, they’re getting all those wonderful lessons. And – you know, my own personal experience, I just looked at it and went – you know, I’ve always been drawn to things that are different, you know? I felt odd anyway, as a child. So – you know, anything odd, I went, “Oh, that’s – those are my people. The Sneetches without Stars. You know, I dig those people.” There’s something very original about the whole thing. And that’s what draws kids. You know, myself, I listened to them on tape, so I didn’t really see the pictures, but [LAUGHTER] – no. No.

QUESTION: What made you think that way, Jim, about being odd? Looking at things in an odd way when you were a kid?

JIM CAREY: I – I don’t know. I was the baby of the family. I was kind of – I just – I guess my father was strange. My father was funny and strange, and I looked at him and I went, “Wow. Everybody’s looking at my Dad, and everybody’s laughing at my Dad.” And I just immediately kind of wanted to be that. So I locked myself in my room when all the other kids were outside playing, and was devising ways to make myself appear to be different. Somehow.

QUESTION: You’re both incredible physical comedians, and I was just, wondering how limiting does it feel, when you really have to do a lot with your voice, even though we saws in the scenes they’ve given, you will be turned into Horton, and you as well. Can you talk a little about that? Using your voice?

STEVE CARELL: I think there’s a freedom within the limitations. I think when you are given sort of a structure, and you can do anything within that structure, there’s something freeing to that. As opposed to, you can do anything, any time, anywhere. Sometimes you just don’t know where to focus. At least for me. And really, the heavy lifting is done by the animators. I think we provide as much as we can vocally. But then you see it, and you see where they’ve taken whatever you’ve done vocally, and it’s remarkable. So.

JIM CAREY: That’s the great thing about this, is that you’re surrounded by artists who are just as creative, or more so, than you are. And I love being handled by nerds. It’s fantastic, man. Just to spew something out, and then have somebody put wings on it. You know, it’s fantastic. It’s a wonderful thing.

STEVE CARELL: Yeah. It’s really cool.


QUESTION: Did you ever work together?

JIM CAREY: I still have never met him. But I’m looking forward to it.

STEVE CARELL: I’m sort of in awe, honestly. Cuz I was watching Jim answer that question before, and it still – I’m still sort of pinching myself, honestly, to – to be working with him. That’s a big honor for me.

QUESTION: Jim, I know in the past you’ve turned down animated films where the schedule might have conflicted with staying in character, and other roles. So how did this one work out, were you able to work in between other movies, or –

JIM CAREY: Well, what they do is, they come to your house and they say, “This is going to be the simplest process in the world.” And they lie to you, completely lie to you. Anybody who they’re doing that to in the future might want to take note. It is hard work. [LAUGHTER] I mean, it is like – it’s not as simple as they make it sound. It is – you know, a half a day here and there. Whenever you get a free moment, you’re going in to do it. And – but the fact is, they come to you, and they really don’t have a script. They don’t have – you know, they have an overall idea of where they want to go, but they go, “Here’s – you know, here’s eight pages. What do you think we should do with it?” You know? And you sit in a room and you jam, and you come up with ideas, and you come up with lines. And it’s a very – it’s an amazing process. Because you think, “How is this ever gonna get to the end and make sense?”

STEVE CARELL: Well, it’s also a huge leap of faith, too. Because there you are, and you don’t know how anything you do will synch up with what anyone else is doing. So it’s all based on how the director sees it and hears it. So he’s the one threading all of these performances together. So you give him 100 – 1000 different variations on a scene. And then he then crafts it with the rest of the performances. So that – and I think it’s a huge leap of faith. Cuz you can do things that you think, “Will that even work?” And in terms of what he’s hearing, yeah.

QUESTION: Guys, both of you jump in the way-back machine for me, and tell me, was there a time in your life when you actually felt like a speck? And who saved you?

JIM CAREY: I know I’m a speck.


JIM CAREY: Absolutely. There’s no question about it. I think – you know, that’s how I feel. Honestly. Yeah, I mean, it just – I’m an interesting speck. But – but I think – you know, that’s how I’ve always thought, in those terms. I mean, how can you look at the sky at night and not feel that you’re a speck somewhere? I mean, I feel like – I saw a picture on Discovery Channel one time of Earth from Mars. Earth from – yeah, it was Earth from kind of the Mars perspective. The Mars Rover thing. And you could hardly find it. It was a speck. We truly are a speck. You know? So there’s all different levels of that. It’s just kind of where you’re at. It’s really true.

QUESTION: Steve, do you have an insignificant time in your life?

STEVE CARELL: If I think about it too much, my mind will explode. [LAUGHTER] Because essentially, the same thing. You know, we are – we’re all so, so tiny, in the big picture. And it depends on what picture you’re looking at. In the really big picture, we’re infinitesimal. But –

JIM CAREY: I’ve always thought there were worlds within worlds within worlds, though. That somewhere on my right arm, there’s – inside a cell, there’s some kind of world happening where people are sitting there, going, “Oh, I hope we don’t destroy ourselves.” You know?

STEVE CARELL: Which gives us absolute—

JIM CAREY: He could swing that arm and hit it against a tree, and we’re gone.

STEVE CARELL: That’s right. That’s why we’re paralyzed. That’s why now, after doing this movie, I can hardly move. Because essentially, I’m afraid I will be crushing tiny universes wherever I go.

JIM CAREY: That’s right.

STEVE CARELL: So even in your laughter, and the saliva that’s coming out of your mouth, you are killing worlds.

JIM CAREY: Right. There are worlds of people. There are worlds of people.

STEVE CARELL: So if that – if there’s one thing people can take away from this movie, I hope it’s that.

JIM CAREY: It’s Armageddon in my pants right now. [LAUGHTER] I swear to God, it’s Armageddon.

QUESTION: Oh, my goodness. I don’t want to follow that. But I want to ask each of you, have you had a chance to talk to Audrey Geisel? And I – Jim, I think you may have talked to her –


QUESTION: — the first time around. Have you talked to her further since then?

JIM CAREY: Well, every once in a while I say hi, but we don’t talk a lot. But, you know, I was really honored that she kind of like, it was the first thing out of her mouth when they come to her with Horton, is, “Can you get Jim Carey?” So I feel really honored that she wants me to be a part of the legacy. And – you know. I just feel wonderful that two of these projects have come my way, you know? I’m such a fan of Dr. Seuss. So I – you know, it’s a great thing. It’s a great thing.

STEVE CARELL: No, no, I’ve never spoken to her.

QUESTION: Do both of you remain genuinely surprised at this sort of extraordinary success that you’ve attained? Do you pinch yourselves, and wonder why it is that you’ve become almost iconic in your success? And the second part of the question is, you know, there’s all these videos, these Ben Affleck Jimmy Kimmel videos. And I was wondering –

JIM CAREY: Do you know about these?



STEVE CARELL: So you’re asking, am I fucking Jim Carey? I think it’s great to do a press junket for Horton Hears a Who, frankly – that speaks to all the kids that are going to be –

JIM CAREY: Yeah. That’s a good tack to take on this, I think.

STEVE CARELL: And our Fox friends are – are –

JIM CAREY: They’re gonna love it. They’re gonna love it.

STEVE CARELL: Quite horrified right now. No. That’s – that’s not a legacy that I am – I am – straining to be a part of. In terms of pinching myself about success, all day, every day. I – and I owe a lot to Jim, frankly, for any of my success. Because essentially the first movie I was ever in was Bruce Almighty. And – and I never got auditions for movies, and it was one of the first I’d ever gotten. And – so I –

JIM CAREY: Stole the whole fucking movie. [LAUGHTER]

STEVE CARELL: No. But – but I remember – and I said this to Jim a week or two ago. Was that, I remember watching Liar, Liar, and thinking, “That looks like the most fun you could possibly have.” Just being on set. You know, and at the end, the outtakes. And I thought, “Man, that just looks like a party.” And I – in my wildest dreams, didn’t think I would ever be able to be a part of that. And then a couple years later, I was. So – yes. I’m still pinching myself every time.

JIM CAREY: And he did an amazing job, and he’s done that ever since. It’s incredible to watch him.

Continued on page 2 ———–>


QUESTION: What about you, Jim. Are you surprised by that kind of success you’ve attained? Obviously it’s huge.

JIM CAREY: Well, you know, I’m – you know, myself – it’s hard to have a perspective on it from inside myself. I just kind of feel like I could be working in a factory again in – you know, a month, or something like that. Loading trucks. Is kind of where I started out. No, honestly, I don’t have perspective on it. It’s just kind of, one thing to the next. It’s trying to do work, and trying to have fun with what’s in front of me. I mean, even today, you know, I think to myself, you get that – “Ugh, it’s a junket,” kind of thing. [LAUGHTER] You know, kind of thing. And then I have to go to that place of, “I’m gonna try to enjoy every person who’s in front of me in that moment, and try – and live that way. That’s what I do.” So I don’t really think about iconic anything. I just try to do work and have fun doing it. Hopefully that translates. But I do watch other people, like Steve, and I can sit back and go, “Whoa, man, that guy’s good.” And I’m much more impressed with other people. You know, and I – you know, and – we’ve got an amazing cast in this.


JIM CAREY: I mean, the people that this project gathered is kind of incredible. It’s like a who’s who of comedy across five generations.

QUESTION: Who’s who.

JIM CAREY: Who’s who. Yeah. And so it’s really exciting. Seth Rogen, and – and Jonah Hill, and Carol Burnett, and – so I’m amazed by them, you know? I sit and I watch Knocked Up, and I go, “Wow. That’s great work, man. These guys are doing incredible stuff. I wish I could be them.” You know. It’s all your perspective. Just feels good to be in it.

QUESTION: I’m just curious, Jim, since this your second foray into Dr. Seuss world, and of course, your first. Were there any stories that you have a hankering to do, either of you?

JIM CAREY: The Steve Carell Story. Hoping they’ll come to me with that.

STEVE CARELL: In terms of Dr. Seuss?

QUESTION: In terms of Dr. Seuss, yeah.

STEVE CARELL: I don’t know. I’d love to do Green Eggs and Ham. I think I could do a lot with it. [LAUGHTER]

JIM CAREY: We could work in a box for Fox. [LAUGHTER]

STEVE CARELL: It does sound ridiculous to even talk about it, doesn’t it? But ultimately, though, you know, you think about – “So you’re doing Horton Hears a Who?” You know, it’s – it sounds sort of odd. You know? You’re in the movie version of Horton Hears a Who. And then you see it, and you say, “Of course.” You know, it completely makes sense. So maybe Green Eggs and Ham is a blockbuster of the future. You never know.

JIM CAREY: That’s an epic. That’s an epic, for sure.

QUESTION: Question for each of you, from kindergarten class in [INAUD], Pennsylvania. They want to know, Jim, how do you become an elephant? And Steve, how do you become a Who?

JIM CAREY: Well, myself, I’ve thought of peanuts. Peanuts on my breath. I figured – you know, I have the sweet smell of peanuts on my breath all the time. I thought – I thought – I wanted to be the type of elephant that didn’t realize that he was enormous and bulky. He was lighter – light as a feather, as he puts it. You know, he was – he was like a dancer. He was in his head. He’s not – you know, he’s not bigger than anybody else. That’s kind of where I wanted to come with that character. Is that, he’s – maybe it’s an inferiority complex, I don’t know. But he doesn’t feel like he’s bigger. He could do a lot of damage if he wanted to, but he doesn’t feel like – you know, he has that power. He feels equal to everybody.

QUESTION: And Steve?

STEVE CARELL: Imagine – have the kids in your class imagine their world where nothing goes wrong, ever. That everything is always happy, everyone always gets along, and everything – it’s always good, and the sun is always shining. And them have them imagine that something goes wrong. And how you would react to that. That’s kind of what being a Who is like. Especially – in this story, that’s what being a Who is like. This perfect world in which nothing ever goes wrong, suddenly is turned upside down.

QUESTION: Steve, have you been back at work on The Office? And what sort of interesting things are going on there?

STEVE CARELL: We go back to work this week. This Thursday’s our first day back. And the first episode involves a dinner party that Michael Scott throws. And it’s – it’s – I think maybe the funniest episode of the season so far. Our table read before the strike was great. So, I – the storm cloud – in terms of Michael and Jan, I would say storm clouds loom. [LAUGHTER]

JIM CAREY: Such a great show. Amazing show. Really one of the greats.

QUESTION:The screen actor’s guild is currently negotiating with the industry. How is that going and do you think it’ll be resolved?

JIM CAREY: Go ahead, man.

STEVE CARELL: Well. [LAUGHTER] As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, I would just – I would have to go with whatever the vote is. I have no idea what’s happening specifically, in terms of – of the strike, or potential strike. So I don’t know. But if the union decided to strike, I would have to as well.

JIM CAREY: I hope the writers get the respect they deserve. I mean, writers – you know, are the backbone of the business. And they deserve a piece of the action, and they deserve good things. They deserve good things. They don’t – you know, there’s a lot of new revenue streams happening, and I think they should be a part of all of it.

QUESTION: What about the Screen Actors? Process of negotiation of the Screen Actors?

JIM CAREY: I’m sorry, I can’t –

QUESTION: The Screen Actors Guild. May be going on strike.

JIM CAREY: Yes, yes, right. Well, I’ll be sitting on my duff if that happens. If we go on strike, that’ll be – I’ll be with it.

QUESTION: In the film, Horton keeps saying, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Do either of you have, like, a motto that you kind of refer to now and then?

JIM CAREY: Always turn your wheel in the direction of the skid. [LAUGHTER] That’s been my motto all along. That’s really what I do.

STEVE CARELL: Be sure to use a washcloth? Because that’s a good way to exfoliate.

JIM CAREY: Brush your dentist twice a day, visit your toothbrush twice a year.

QUESTION: Jim, are you scared of the dentist? I hear that you are the one that thought of that – he’s going to the dentist while –

JIM CAREY: I just went to the dentist yesterday. I love the dentist. I do.

QUESTION: Did you come up with that bit, though, in the film?

JIM CAREY: I don’t remember. They say I did, but I don’t really remember.

QUESTION: So you’re not afraid of the dentist. Okay.

JIM CAREY: No, no. Not at all. Not at all. I enjoy the dentist. I enjoy trying to communicate with, like, half a dozen instruments in my mouth. Cuz they always want to talk to you. There’s like, 100 different things in there, and, like, “So, how’s the family?” [INAUD] Somehow they understand.

QUESTION: This is probably heavier than anybody really wants to go, but Steve, listening to your explanation before about some of the philosophy, and the attitude – it struck me watching this film that may be we’re viewing it differently in a post-9/11 world. Do you think there’s a political overtone that — any of you guys see something in there that might be kind of a lesson for us to take to heart, the fact that – you know, when you crush a speck, you’re destroying somebody else, that they have a right to exist as well?

STEVE CARELL: I think that’s valid. I think I – you know, it’s always hard when you talk about a post-9/11 world, because I honestly think this – the theme of this movie would have resonated before that, had it never happened. But perhaps because of that, people’s general awarenesses are higher. But I – you know, I think – and again, without getting too deep or too heavy with it, because after all, it’s a family movie, it’s fun, it’s funny, it’s exciting, it’s silly – but within that, there is a very true and pure theme to it.

JIM CAREY: There is a butterfly effect to everything we do. And I believe even to raise your voice has an effect that goes far beyond the room you’re raising your voice in. You know? I mean, everything has an effect that way. I mean, we’ve seen it politically through the last few decades, you know? This – there was an odd thing that Charlie – I forget what is, Charlie’s War, whatever, the Tom Hanks movie? Yeah, Charlie Wilson’s War. I looked at that movie and I go, “Didn’t he create Osama bin Laden?” You know? But they left that out, you know? The fact is, that every time we go and try to mess with things, and figure it out, and squash somebody, we create somebody else. Is – the act of fighting these fears we have, creates more fear, and creates more – aggression.

QUESTION: Steve, I just saw the latest trailer of Get Smart. It seems that there’s a lot more action in that movie than I guess I would have expected.

STEVE CARELL: It’s all in the trailer. That’s it. There’s no more. [LAUGHTER]

QUESTION: Was it fun being an action star? And Jim, how are you preparing to play Scrooge in this new Christmas Carol?

STEVE CARELL: It’s incredibly fun. It’s all I – being an action star is all I ever hoped to be. [LAUGHTER] I ultimately knew I would be an action star.

JIM CAREY: He’s packing right now. There’s a lump back here, I see it.

STEVE CARELL: That’s right. I have one stuck in my boot, as well. Yeah. It was just fun and silly, and again, ridiculous, and I’m hanging from wires, off of buildings, and underneath planes. And it was fun. I’d do it again in a second.

JIM CAREY: Yeah. Ebeneezer is such a great thing for me, because again, I get to play all kinds of different roles in the film. And first of all, the process is so fascinating. You’re literally in an empty warehouse with cameras around you. And you have – maybe a frame of a fireplace, or something like that. And then you rehearse, and they go, “Can we take this away?” And you’re sitting on a chair. And you have to create the entire world in your head. And not only that, but you’re working with other actors, and you’re in this ridiculous mo-cap suit with balls all over it, and a hat with pincers that come down, with cameras in your face right here. And so the real work of it is transcending all of this – the lack of stimuli, and this stimuli that’s right in your face. You have to transcend all of it, and create the reality of the piece. And also, it’s kind of a classical version of A Christmas Carol. Oh, it is, very much. And so I’m playing Ebeneezer Scrooge at four different ages. So there’s a lot of vocal things, a lot of physical things I have to do. You know, not to mention doing the accents properly.

QUESTION: With an English accent.

JIM CAREY: With English accents, and Irish accents, and –

QUESTION: How are you playing the –

JIM CAREY: I’m also playing past, present, future, the ghosts.

QUESTION: All of the ghosts.

JIM CAREY: Yeah. So there’s a lot of really wonderful – you know, work in it, and challenge in it. And plus, I want it to fly in the UK, you know? And I want it to be good, and I want them to go, like, “Yeah, that’s for real.” You know? So we were very true to the actual – to the book. So.

QUESTION: My favorite book.

JIM CAREY: It’s beautiful. It’s an incredible film. And – you know, if you’re lucky, at some point in your life, you have that kind of Christmas Carol moment, you know? And I certainly have, where things were kind of going south, and I had the opportunity to see how horrible things could have gotten, without them actually going there. And I can’t get into specifics. But I had my ghost of Christmas Future, you know, at a certain point in my life, that I went, like, “Oh, wow. Okay. I gotta really start caring about the right things here.” And it’s just a fantastic story. It’s a fantastic story. Beautiful literature.

QUESTION: Is that – next year, right?

JIM CAREY: That will be 2009, actually. Christmas, 2009.

QUESTION: Who’s your dialect coach on that? Because we’re doing a story about –

JIM CAREY: Oh, Barbara Barkeley.

QUESTION: Quick question. Are you still gonna do the Tim Burton project?

JIM CAREY: I don’t know. I mean, that’s – it’s definitely still in the works. Maybe a little ways off. But we’re still talking about it.

QUESTION: So what’s your project after this?

JIM CAREY: After Christmas Carol, I’m doing a film called I Love You Philip Morris. Yeah, about a gentleman who fell in love with his cell mate, in Texas, and escaped from prison four times to try to find ways to get his lover out of prison. So that’s – it’s an out-there concept.

QUESTION: Has Jenny had a chance to see the film yet?


QUESTION: Great work. Look forward to Christmas Carol.

JIM CAREY: Yeah. It’s gonna be fun. It’s really gonna be amazing, I think.

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