No Corsets for Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

Kate Winslet Jim Carrey Eternal Sunshine
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey star in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.". Focus Features

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey play lovers whose relationship is at the center of the story in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." When Clementine (Winslet) decides to call their relationship off, she takes the extraordinary step of having Joel (Carrey) erased from her memory. Joel discovers what Clementine's done, decides to wipe his own slate clean, and then has second thoughts in the middle of the procedure.

The casting of Kate Winslet opposite Jim Carrey sounds strange, and even Winslet admits it's an unexpected pairing. Co-star Carrey says of Winslet, "Kate is someone to learn from. She is just so good at what she does, and so smart. And the best thing of all is she’s not as tough as she thinks." Producer Anthony adds, "Kate Winslet is very much Clementine. They’re both headstrong, passionate, and unpredictable – and completely loveable."


Is it your goal to defy expectations of traditional leading lady roles?
No, it’s not my goal. It’s fun. It’s really fun to take risks and it’s really fun to play lots of different characters. Clementine was the most eccentric part that I’ve ever played. I just had so much fun doing her. What an unlikely pairing. I mean, you wouldn’t imagine that Jim Carrey and I would ever do a movie together. When I was sent the script and was asked to do it, I just thought, “Well, there’s no way I’m not going to do this” because I knew that it would be a totally new experience and very challenging, which it was both of those things.

Why was this an unlikely pairing?
Because I have played Ophelia, and he was Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

It’s that simple?
Absolutely not. I don't know what assumptions that people might make as to the actors that I would work with, but I imagine people would think Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh - those are the things that would spring to people’s minds. And believe me, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with them and had an amazing experience. But as an actor, you always want to mix it up and play different parts. Jim and I have been in completely different movies to each other in the past and so the pairing of us in this film, I think, is exciting and challenging and different. I would hope that people will think it’s an unlikely pairing in order to make them go and see it.

Did it change your approach, working against expectations?
No, I just knew that I had to be something very, very different from what I had been before. In a way, whilst it was very challenging for Jim to play Joel Barish, this kind of shy, introverted guy, at the same time, I am known for being this classical English rose in all these period pieces. I knew I had to break that mold completely, which meant that I just worked very, very hard on the dialect. I wanted her to look totally different from everything else I’ve ever done. I think we can safely say she does. I just knew that I had to completely change my whole persona and I was thrilled to be able to do that, and be given the opportunity to do that.

How do you reign in the character’s eccentricity?
Well, I had to be prepared to let people dislike her at times because she’s a bit of a bitch, but at the same time, she’s gorgeous and she’s funny and she’s silly and you sort of feel for her. You kind of sense her confusion about who she is and her life. She’s very, very vulnerable, I think, underneath all of that stuff. I just had to work very, very hard. Sometimes I would say to Michel, “Let me know if I’m not going enough. Let me know if I’m going too far.” And more often than not, he would be pushing me further. I was so terrified of being over the top and he would just say, “No, no, no. More, more, more.” And I’d be like, “Really?” He’d go, “Yeah, it doesn’t matter. Just do it, just try it.” That was fantastically liberating. When you do classical period films, you don’t get the opportunity to do that. It’s a more subtle approach.

Were there particular scenes where you were pushed further?
The scene where they’re set in the forest - I don't know how it was cut together because I still haven’t seen the final cut of the movie - but I believe you suddenly find them in a car and they get out and they’re in a forest. He’s like, “Look, I’m erasing you Clem,” and he’s trying to hold his eyes open and she goes, “Can’t you just try?” And he tries and it works for a split second. Michel had me jumping all over the place in one version of that scene we shot. I had not expected it was going to be like that. I figured that would be the two of them maybe sitting on a log just talking to each other. But no, he had us running up and down, kicking leaves around and it was so much fun.

PAGE 2: Kate Winslet on Playing the 'Jim Carrey' Role, Flawed Characters, and Hair Colors

"Eternal Sunshine" Interview with Jim Carrey
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Do you relate more to the flawed character in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" than the idealized one of “Titanic?”

Is it ironic that it’s your most humorous role, against Jim Carrey in the Kate Winslet role?
Yes, absolutely. I mean, I really had the Jim Carrey part and that was pretty terrifying, to be honest, at first. I was like, “I’ve got to be the funny one. Oh no. How on earth am I going to do that?” So yeah, I was very nervous walking into it, but I like that fear. That stage fright is often one of the best things and I didn’t preplan too much of it either. With the more kind of romanticized period pieces that I have been doing, more classical parts, you really have to prepare for something like that. Like “Enigma,” you do. You have to concentrate so much on the period and certainly with “Enigma,” we learned how to use Enigma machines. There’s so much preparation that goes into those types of films and with this one, I just thought, “My God, I have to leave it all to chance. I have to know who she is.”

Is she like you?
I’m a relatively impulsive person, yes. I mean, not when it comes to relationships but certainly in terms of day-to-day life. For example, I might wake up in the morning knowing that I’ve got a couple of meetings and a script to read and get my daughter to nursery school and take her to the park in the afternoon, and I might just turn around to my little girl and say, “Look, the sky is blue. Let’s just go to beach. Or let’s just go to the aquarium.” You know, just suddenly change everything in the last minute. Or even just saying, “Hell, we’re not doing much for the next week. Let’s just go to Connecticut,” or wherever it might be. So there was actually a lot of me in Clementine. And hell, you know, I don’t wear corsets every day, I wear jeans, so it was a lot more comfortable just in a practical way for me to be her to the point where I had so much fun that I put my own clothes on at the end I went, “Oh, back to boring old me again, you know, all my black that I wear.” And I really seriously considered dying my hair red after we finished the shoot because it was just so much fun to be something different for a while.

But isn’t it nice to be back to your normal hair color?
Yeah, but I was in my normal hair color every day because they were wigs. But they were clearly pretty convincing ones because everyone says to me, “So how did your hair hold up?” I was really up for dying my hair all those different colors but, you know, a movie is shot out of sequence so literally some days I would start with red and then by lunch time I would be blue, and then the afternoon I’d be going back to red again. So we had to have wigs, but they were such incredible wigs. Even I’d be up close to the mirror going cross-eyed going, “How is that possible?”

Which was your favorite?
I really loved the red. I don't know why, just I loved that red wig and loved having red hair. It was great fun.

PAGE 3: Kate Winslet on Selecting Scripts, Jim Carrey, and Memories She'd Like to Erase

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Are you impulsive when choosing scripts?

I leave a lot to chance. It’s whatever really excites me and inspires me. I just like to take risks like that. And more importantly, I don’t walk into a film thinking this is going to be a hit. It’s just the wrong thing to think because as soon as you start to do that, the kind of competition kicks in and I’m just not a competitive person. I really love my job and I want to do it as well as I possibly can, but I don’t want to be the best. And I very much enjoy watching other actresses play parts way better than I ever would have been able to. It’s a very, very inspiring and exciting thing to be able to do that.

How was working with Jim Carrey?
He’s a great guy. We have such a good relationship and you can’t act chemistry. You can’t make that happen, so I really just hoped to God that we were going to get on well, and thankfully we didn’t hate each other. So, it was just great. Yes, he’s kind of goofy and silly and pulls crazy faces. My God, he is a master impersonator. But he also has this kind of quiet side, too, and I’m used to sort of taking myself off into quiet corners and preparing myself for a particular scene probably much more than maybe Jim would be. He had to do quite a lot of that in playing Joel just because Joel is the shy, more introverted guy. He did have to sort of keep himself from himself sometimes but I could see that and I love that. I love being able to accept another actor’s process, however different it might be to my own. But Jim and I, we actually had quite a similar process.

What do you try to give the other actor?
I always do exactly what you just said. I always try and give as much as I can, rather than get as much as I can. You’re very lucky if you work with an actor who is brilliant and very inspiring and gives you a lot. That’s why I try and do that myself, so sometimes if I’m doing off-camera dialogue - this would certainly happen with “Eternal Sunshine” - if Jim was doing a scene where the cameras or camera was just on him, I would be off camera acting my ass off because otherwise he wouldn’t have anything to react to. So you have to commit to that and continue to be that character off camera.

The only time I’ve been accepting of an actor not doing that for me was when I was doing “Quills.” There was a scene with Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine and myself and it was one of very few scenes that we were all in together. We shot everything on Geoffrey, shot everything on Joaquin, shot everything on Michael, and it was round onto me. I’d been acting my heart out with everyone else for everyone else’s close ups and Michael turned around to me, Michael Caine, the great Michael Caine, Sir Michael Caine, turned around to me and said, “Darling, do you mind, I’ve got to be somewhere a little bit later. Do you mind if I just take my costume off?” And I thought he just meant maybe his jacket or something like that. No, back to dressing room, wig off, full normal clothing on. And he walked back onto set and I was like, “Oh, that’s what you meant.” But he still acted his heart out. How can you not forgive Michael Caine for something like that? He’s so charming and so funny.

”Eternal Sunshine” is about erasing memories. Is there a piece of pop culture would you like to erase?
No, I don't think so. I don’t really believe in the idea of that process. I just think that the good and the bad experiences that we all have in our lives are what forms us as human beings. There’s nothing that I would erase, no movie, no song, no nothing. “Once more, you opened the door…” I’ve certainly heard that too many times, but no, you can’t erase those things. They’re all a part of our pasts. No, I’m very grateful for some of the things that I’ve been through, how horrible they might have felt at the time, they make you stronger.

What about erasing a particularly embarrassing moment?
One embarrassing moment that I wouldn’t mind deleting was I was in a tap dancing class when I was 14 and just laughing my head off with one of the guys who was in my class. I don't know what we were laughing about. We just kind of got ourselves into that hysterical thing that you can’t get out of. And I actually peed myself in the class so badly it was terrible.

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