Playboy: You have been prescient. You wrote a postdated $10 million check to yourself when you were poor, and when the date came up you had the money to cover it. You told yourself you were going to be one of the five biggest actors in Hollywood, that every major director would someday want to work with you.
Carrey: Is working with me.
Playboy: So you consider this approach to be pretty successful?
Carrey: The whole thing is all good brainwashing. Not "I'm going to do this," but rather "I am doing this." I've always said it in the present moment, as if it already exists. I may not be connected to it yet, but it exists. When people ask me about an Oscar, I try to be polite about it. But I've already won it. In my head I've won Best Actor.
Playboy: For which role?
Carrey: I don't know what the role is. I want that to surprise me. I'm not being arrogant. I don't have some sense of entitlement. It's just that I've experienced it already. I just work this way.
Playboy: Does that block out fear?
Carrey: It just seems to program the computer. If it's God's will as well, then it'll happen and connect with my thought. If it's not, it won't.
Playboy: What goals are you programming now?
Carrey: I have four more things in my wallet right now.
Playboy: What are they?
Carrey: I can't tell you.
Playboy: Come on, give us one.
Carrey: No. That's between me and God.
Playboy: Are they professional or personal?
Carrey: They're career things, they're life things, they're spiritual things-- they're everything.
Playboy: You're not gearing for a run for governor of California, are you?
Carrey: Let's hope not. No, everybody would be in a lot of trouble if I did. I may do it in the movies, just so I can say what I need to say.
Playboy: You come from Canada but have talked about becoming a dual citizen so you can vote.
Carrey: I'm in the process.
Playboy: Would you have voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Carrey: I like Arnold. I have no idea how qualified he is. The whole power of celebrity in this country scares me, the idea that we trust this guy and feel we know him because he's in a movie. If he mentions his frigging movies one more time in one of his speeches, I'm going to vomit. Dude, you're a politician now-- speak about the issues. There is something dark and evil going on in the Republican Party that's just too frightening to get into.
Playboy: Care to elaborate?
Carrey: I love this country. I came here from Canada with huge dreams, and America gave me everything I ever imagined and more. But I think we're in a lot of trouble. There's a lot of stuff that's going to hurt us. We might wake up one day and go, "Wait, we're the bad guy?" We've got to be careful.
Playboy: You mean the invasion of Iraq?
Carrey: I mean everything. Our business overseas. How we treat each other. Insensitivity to people, to other races and countries. God knows I feel for our soldiers. It breaks my heart that people are dying, and I appreciate that they protect us. But I wonder how far that $87 billion might have gone in showing goodwill to the rest of the world had we taken it and said, "How can we help you?" We might have won the hearts and minds of the Arab people.
I just hope Bush and those behind him have their hearts in the right place. We're there now. We have to see it through. If their hearts aren't in the right place and this is about oil, there's no bunker thick enough or deep enough to get away from God's bunker buster. I also believe we should stop writing cute messages on bombs. It isn't funny--it's cruel, and it doesn't do the soldiers any good. If we're going to write anything on a bomb, it should be "God bless whoever this lands on and may God forgive us all, on both sides."
Playboy: Let's change the subject. When you started out as a stand-up comic, what was your goal?
Carrey: When I started I wanted to please my mom and dad.
Playboy: Yet you abruptly scrapped your mainstream act as an impressionist and replaced it with something much edgier and more unpredictable.
Carrey: Oh, I'd have a war with the audience some nights. I'd go to war.
Carrey: I just felt like it was my mood at the time and it was dishonest to give them anything else. So I would go to the Comedy Store and pull the guns out and start firing.
Playboy: Did you have a plan when you took the stage?
Carrey: Sometimes I had no plan at all. I went up six months in a row and told myself that I wouldn't repeat a word I'd said the night before. Every night was like death. I was bleeding with sweat before I'd go onstage, because I wouldn't allow myself to repeat a joke or a line. I went up there with nothing.
Playboy: What was the reaction?
Carrey: The comics thought it was incredible. They were all lined up at the back of the room going, "Do you know what he's doing?" Kinison would say, "You're not going to save any of that shit, man? That was funny shit." And I'd go, "Nope. Not gonna do it." It was brutal, and two thirds of the time it was absolute shit. I got chairs thrown at me, and I got in fights.
Playboy: You had the added pressure of supporting your parents and siblings. That must have been tough.
Carrey: Well, yeah. It was hard when I threw my impression act out completely.
Playboy: Why do it then?
Carrey: Because when you juggle for five minutes, they call you a juggler. That's it. Now, since I've developed other things, I can bring an impression back--in Bruce Almighty I do Clint Eastwood. It's fun, but it's not who I am.
Playboy: Who guided you when you made that transition?
Carrey: My dad was really instrumental in the creative decisions I made. He was a jazzman, an orchestra leader.
Playboy: Your father was also an accountant who lost his job. Did that show you the downside of playing it safe?
Carrey: For him it was a combination of fear and responsibility. He was a very, very good man. But I used to think my dad was a coward.
Carrey: Because he was such a nice guy to everybody, and he got run over in life. He got fired when he was 50, and no one wanted him anymore. He was always the guy who would give you the shirt off his back, and I used to look at that and go, "That's not honest. It's not entirely honest to be the nice guy all the time."
Playboy: Did you ever say that to him?
Carrey: Not really, no. It was who he was. He loved people and showed me nothing but love, and I could never look at that in a bad way. But you learn from your parents. What I learned was not just to give everybody everything they want. They don't know what they want. And they'll eat you up and spit you out without even meaning to.
Playboy: What's the alternative?
Carrey: If I got into a place where I felt pigeonholed, I would do the opposite until everyone forgot what I used to do. That came from seeing how it turns out when you pander to people. You're asking to be kicked in the teeth.
Playboy: You first made good money doing impressions as Rodney Dangerfield's opening act. Audiences liked you.
Carrey: I saw where it was going. I saw it leading to Vegas and opening for people. Or if you're Rich Little, you become the Impressionist Guy. God bless him, but it was not good for me. This soul is too big to be housed by that.
Playboy: Dangerfield took you under his wing. What did you learn from him?
Carrey: More than anything, he supported my creative whims. When I stopped doing impressions and started spiking my hair and doing weird things, he still hired me. He'd stand off to the side and laugh, and when I came off he'd say, "Man, those people think you're from another fucking planet." He's an incredible character. And he treated my father like gold, which was very important to me.