It was a mad scene Monday afternoon at the packed press conference for the new Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor flick “I Love You Philip Morris.” Appropriately held at the Queer Lounge, producer Andrew Lazar surprised by saying said the movie isn’t about being gay, “it’s ultimately a love story.”
That may go over well with jittery distributors, but there’s no denying it, “Morris” is just as much a gay movie as “Milk” or “Brokeback Mountain.” But, it’s also an entertaining true story about a con man, Stephen Russell (Carrey), who does anything he can to get out of jail to be with his one true love: Philip Morris.
Here are some highlights of what Carrey and McGregor had to say earlier today.
Carrey on his long relationship with movie producer Luc Besson:
“The day I first met Luc was on the set of ‘Ace Ventura,’ when we were doing the very first scene in the movie when I was walking down Miami Beach banging the box against the buildings and things like that and I ended up in this film being financed by Luc and shooting on the very same strip of beach.”
Why was Carrey attracted to the con man role?
“I loved the fact that I couldn’t figure out whether I loved him or hated him. It wasn’t a hate thing, it was a polarization thing. From one page to the next, I was attracted to this character and then I was disturbed by how he was behaving.”
Is it a “gay movie”? Not according to Carrey:
“I don’t think it’s a gay movie. I think it’s a movie about humanity. For me, for my perspective and the perspective of my character, it’s really about the lengths we go to for acceptance or love. If you feel like you haven’t been accepted in life and you’ve been, in fact, rejected, you tend to be a bit extreme in your approach, y’know? I think this character is that. He’s relentless about love and that’s what attracted me to him.”
Carrey on the reaction of people in his circle to his taking the part:
“I think if I were to be honest, there were a few people in my world who were like, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ And that still exists. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Because, sexual prolactivities aside, it’s a story about human beings that’s so compelling and so interesting and so different. It’s just about humanity. It was really just about that. It was really about: you love who you love and love is love an that’s the bottom line. And If I were to be really honest, there is a homophobic voice inside me that goes, ‘Geez, this is kind of scary. First of all, what will people think? Second of all, will I like it? Will I like kissing Ewan? How will this affect me? And Jenny? those are the kind of thoughts that go through your head.”
McGregor on meeting his real life counterpart, Phillip Morris:
“I spent a day and a half with him in Arkansas in Little Rock where he lives. It was an interesting opportunity to meet the person you’re gonna play. It doesn’t often happen. I have played people who have existed and one guy who was still alive when I played Nick Leeson [in 1999’s “Rogue Trader”], but he was in prison at the time so I couldn’t meet him. And this time I was able to sit with the person I was about to play. It was very interesting. It’s not a case about trying to ask a lot of questions or answers about the particulars in the story, because the particulars in our story are in our script. It was much more about seeing what he would like and how he behaved and what he chose to give away about himself and what he didn’t.”
McGregor on how the film is meant to enlighten:
“It was important to me reading it that none of the humor came out of it being two men. I was conscious of that reading it. And at no point did I think it was, or I wouldn’t have wanted to do it. The joke wasn’t that it was a love story about two men. It was the situation and the length that Jim’s character would do to go to Philip or the ease he did to get out. It was that, it was humorous. Other than that, it wouldn’t have been right.”
Carrey on how the film changed his relationship with gay friends:
“Personally, I have a lot of gay people in my life, in my surroundings and everyone was so excited. It was like freedom for a lot of them, because even with them — some of them work for me — there was a feeling, I’m sure, there was a feeling they had to be a certain way and present themselves in a conservative manner, or whatever around me. And when I started to talking to them about this film, and pumping them for information, oh, that was an odd choice of words, they got so excited. It was like someone had lat them loose to be themselves and our relationship are much closer after that.”
Read Drew McWeeney’s review of “I Love You Phillip Morris” here.