When you sit down with Jim Carrey, you never know what you're going to get, from a Wayne Newton imitation to three minutes of silence to a shoeshine.
But when co-anchor Harry Smith sat down with Carrey for The Early Show Wednesday morning, he was able to persuade the comedian to talk about his new movie, "Fun with Dick & Jane," an update of the 1970s comedy.
"I'm not crazy about remakes," Carrey told him, "but, you know, when this idea came up, I — I just thought, you know, this is kind of perfect. "It's a — it's a time when we're witnessing a lot of corporate corruption. I think it's more relevant today than when they made it way back in 1977."
In "Fun with Dick & Jane," which opens Wednesday, Carrey plays a public relations executive who is bankrupted when his company goes down in an Enron-like scandal. He eventually team ups with his wife, Jane, played by actress Tea Leoni, for a life of crime.
Carrey says the movie looks at the concept of keeping up with the Joneses and what that's all about.
"I think, keeping up with the Joneses is, it's — it's not about having stuff. It really is about how you're perceived. If you … It's not about losing your lawn, it's about how you're perceived when you lose your lawn."
For this role, Carrey drew on his own childhood experiences. His father lost his job when he was 51.
"He was the controller of a company," Carrey said. "He was let go and kind of lost heart at that point. You know? And I saw him kind of, you know, lose his zest for life. And suddenly, I went from being an A student, to not being able to understand what the teacher said.
"You know, it just was all Charlie Brown to me," said Carrey imitating the "wha wha wha" sound that adults make in the popular cartoon. "And I didn't care. I was just mad at the universe for what it did to my dad, you know? So, I know how those things can affect people."
During those troubled times, Carrey went to school during the day and worked at night as a janitor and security guard at the same factory where his father was on the day shift.
"School didn't last long after that," Carrey said. "It went by the wayside. And then I was just a janitor and security guard."
There were a lot of gangs and factions on the factory floor and workers would carry "daggers and whatever else they needed to survive," said Carrey, admitting he had a baseball bat in his cleaning cart.
"It was a crazy atmosphere," Carrey said. "But later on as an actor and as, as a comedic actor, those things become your tools. Those are your weapons. You know? I wish I could remember that at the time when you've been, you know, like when you're love sick and you've been splayed in half, and you're laying on the rocks watching the gulls fly away with your pancreas. I wish I could remember that this is all gonna be usable some day. You know? As an artist, this will help me."
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