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Doofus Delight! A Chat with Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey

Nov 13, 2014

By: Lynn Barker

The 1994 film Dumb and Dumber cracked up most of America and the world as two lovable but not-so-bright dudes Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) made a road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado to return a briefcase of money, not knowing it belonged to the Mob. You’ve probably seen the classic comedy film on video or on a TV broadcast.

The guys try to work their cell phonesThe guys try to work their cell phonesCourtesy of Universal

Bobby Farrelly who, with his bro Peter, directed the film and now its sequel Dumb and Dumber To figured we’d want to find out exactly “what those two dimwits would be doing twenty years later in life”. Turns out Harry has a grown daughter he didn’t know he had and, when pal Lloyd meets her, he’s in love! Awkward…but fun.

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels teamed up to talk to reporters in L.A. recently about returning to their iconic comedy roles, dealing with fans who wouldn’t let the characters die and more.

Q: Let’s get this straight. Which guy is “Dumb” and which one’s “Dumber?”

  • Jeff: It depends which page of the script you’re on. You turn it and he’s more stupid than you are.
  • Jim: It changes.
  • Jeff: And then you do something stupid. I just think it’s something that passes back and forth.
  • Jim: Everybody gets his chance at the “Dumber” role.
  • Jeff: Lloyd leads the way. He definitely leads Harry into some things. You’d think he would be the smarter one but the next thing you know, we’re face first in the wall.

Humm, wonder why this deer isn't moving?Humm, wonder why this deer isn't moving?Courtesy of Universal

Q: Your directors say you guys have very different styles. Jeff, you just come in and do it, and Jim has to prepare for about six months ahead of production.

  • Jeff: Wow, what a crock that is!
  • Jim: (laughing) I wouldn’t say six months. I start thinking dumb stuff a week before. Lloyd is a part of me now.  I just whack the tooth out (Lloyd has a front tooth gap) and you think really selfishly.  You just go, “Mine!  Mine!  Mine!” in your mind.  But also, the love between the characters is important.  You can get away with anything as long as there’s real love between the characters.

Harry (Jeff Daniels) in a goofy, happy momentHarry (Jeff Daniels) in a goofy, happy momentCourtesy of Universal

Q: How much over the past 20 years have you thought about these guys?  Do they hold as special a place in your lives as they do for the fans?

  • Jim: Every character I do is something special to me. (He burps.) You’re free. You’re free. Enjoy! That was a free-range burp. Why hold it? I’m an authentic person.
  • Jeff: I just farted.
  • Jim: Oh brother. It’s definitely special. Every time you score with a great character relationship in a movie it becomes like your baby.  It’s a special thing.  And the fans made it special because they were constantly reminding me.  I don’t remember yesterday.  I pretty much live in the moment, but they’re really special.
  • Jeff:  They’re real people to us.
  • Jim:  Lloyd feels like a separate person from me. Absolutely.
  • Jeff:  I always imagine that Harry is alive and well.  Someday, he’s going to come and see the movie, and then he’s going to meet with me and tell me how I did. It’s a little game I play.  You owe it to Harry or McAvoy (the character he plays in “The Newsroom” on TV) or whomever you’re playing, to do them as authentically and believably as possible. You pretend like you’re going to have a dinner with them later and you hope it goes well.
  • Jim:  Lloyd is going to ask me who I was (impersonating).  He’s going to say, “That guy was really funny.  Who is it?”

Lloyd (Jim Carrey) tries to pump up a bike tireLloyd (Jim Carrey) tries to pump up a bike tireCourtesy of Universal

Q:  Jim, the only other time you’ve revisited a character was for Ace Ventura but the sequel was done immediately after the first one.  Did you have a preference for the approach of that or catching up with someone 20 years later?

  • Jim:  I like to wait until the (Studio) executives pass on before I do a sequel.  I prefer that.  I like to bury them and then do the sequel. (Sheesh. He’s kidding!)
  • Jeff:  I think the reason why the sequel happened was because, over the years, the fans kept coming up to both of us going, “Come on!”
  • Jim:  It was a fan-driven sort of thing.  They wouldn’t leave us alone.
  • Jeff:  The appeal of it wasn’t just 12-year-old boys.  The demo kept getting wider and wider, so it demanded that it get done.  And we all wanted to do it so it got done.
  • Jim:  It’s cooler to wait.  A sequel, when you wait 20 years, becomes a “chicquel”. That could work in advertising. I think I just coined a huge phrase that’s going to change everything for everyone.

Cleaning up on the tripCleaning up on the tripCourtesy of Universal

Q: Were you happy that some of the props from the original returned in this?

  • Jeff: Yeah, I think they did a great job. We’ve got the Mutt Cutts (doggie van).
  • Jim: I thought it was kind of funny to have it in there and then immediately destroy it.

Q: Jim, what other movies from your past would you like to sequelize?

  • Jim:  Chicquelize”. I don’t know. I don’t concentrate on sequels, but I’m not as resistant as I used to be to them. There are certain characters that I would have loved to do sequels with. I would have loved to do a “Lemony Snickett” sequel because it was an opportunity to do a lot of whacked-out characters.  But I don’t have hard, fast rules, creatively.  If it sounds fun in the moment, I’ll go there.

Harry is stuck....againHarry is stuck....againCourtesy of Universal

Q: The Farrellys said you called them about doing a sequel to Dumb and Dumber after you caught the original on TV. Did you see it from the beginning or from the middle?

  • Jim: I don’t remember the genesis of this whole thing. I called them at some point and said, “We’ve got to work together again. Period.” That group of guys, as you get older, you value these things. You want to get back together with the gang. I want to hang out with Jeff and the Farrellys.

Carrey and Daniels with The Farrelly brothersCarrey and Daniels with The Farrelly brothersCourtesy of Universal

Q: Where do you see these characters in another 20 years?  Will they look different? Will their personalities be different? Or will they be exactly the same?

  • Jeff:  I think they’re exactly the same.
  • Jim:  Lloyd will have lost an eye in a bar brawl.  They don’t have a (story) arc.  There’s no life arc for these two.  They’re going to fall into their grave stupid.

Dumb and Dumber To is in theaters November 14th!

Dumb and Dumber To PosterDumb and Dumber To PosterCourtesy of Universal

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