INT: Number 23 1/2

The 23 enigma is the belief that all incidents and events connect in some way to the number 23. To believers, this would include the day of Shakespeare’s birth and death (April 23rd, 1564 and 1616) and the day Adolf Hitler tried to seize power (January 23rd). There are many more interesting facts which I would suggest that if you have an interest in the number and the movie, or just want to laugh at conspiracy theorists, it’s worth a Google. Is it all a coincidence? Well, if it is, it has become the fascination of many, and it also raised my interest. So it is a wonder that it took this long to make a movie about it. And for Joel Schumacher’s 23rd film, he takes on THE NUMBER 23 with Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen and Danny Huston. It is a strange and intriguing psychological thriller about obsession and one man’s descent into everything surrounding the magical number.

Recently, at the Press Conference for the film, Joel, Jim , Virginia and Danny all stopped by to say hello at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills . For a movie surrounded by the mystery of a numerical fascination, there was a very lighthearted mood in the room. Jim Carrey is a very funny man in person and surprisingly mellow. There was very little over-the-top, make em’ laugh humor. He seems to have settled into a serious actor with comic overtones, and the dude has let his hair grow and looked pretty cool [Is this because of Jenny McCarthy?].

Alongside Jim was a very beautiful and charming Virginia Madsen, whom yours truly has been a major fan of for a very long time, CANDYMAN people!!! Add to that Mr. Joel Schumacher and Danny Huston [John’s son] and you get a very funny hour of talk about THE NUMBER 23 and much more.

Part 1 of 2

Jim Carrey Virginia Madsen Joel Schumacher

Virginia Madsen (VM): [Referring to the microphone in front of Jim Carrey] Why does Jim have the biggest one?

Jim Carrey (JC): That’s a question they’ve been asking for years

Before you started this movie you knew about this phenomenon because you named your company JC23, are you thinking of changing that now?

JC: No, never.

What did you know about it then that you would want to name your company JC23?

JC: Well you see it started out for me, a friend of mine in Canada kind of handed it down to me. He was seeing it everywhere, adding up license plates, doing all these things. He had a book full of 23 phenomenon and he handed it to me, and I said he was crazy and then I started seeing it everywhere. And then one day, a few years later after it had kind of entered my life in a big way and I was driving my friends crazy, somebody handed me a book on the 23rd Psalm, the valley of the shadow of death, living without fear basically, knowing you’re taken care of, so I thought that was a great progression from Pit Bull productions, which is kind of like grabbing hold of life and just not letting it go, to not sweating it.

Joel Schumacher (JS): And ripping other people’s throats out.

JC: Exactly. So I named the company that, and then I explained it to a friend and he said, ‘Well, I just read a script called ‘The Number 23’ and I said, ‘I have to see this.’ And I read the script, I was compelled by it, and I was freaked out actually because the first page of the script was actually originally me trying to capture a pit bull. So the Pit Bull Productions to JC23 was not lost there and it went on like that. Then he read it and I came back into the room, a friend of mine I gave it to, and he had turned to the 23rd page and was circling every 23rd word because he was looking for a code. And that’s what I want to do with the audience with a movie like this. That’s the fun of it.

Has anyone else ever heard of this phenomenon?

VM: Yes, because I think all that stuff is really fun -- the shows on the Discovery Channel about ghosts and the yeti and UFOs, which I totally believe in. So I’d heard about it but I didn’t know how vast it was until really the first day of production. I’d sort of been on line, and I came in and there were these beautiful, beautiful roses from Jim, these enormous [roses] with this romantic note, to my beautiful wife.

JC: I just didn’t want any trouble.

VM: And you know, I was so gullible. I was like, ‘Oh, I love him now.’ That’s all it takes. But then on the table there was this book about this thick with all the fun facts about the number 23, just in case you’re a doubter. So I was like, ‘Oh my God.’

JC: And then it began, and her son started picking out things. Her son was sitting there all day long trying to figure out the phenomenon on the set. And he pointed out that our names together were 23 letters [Referring to him and Virginia] and our names together [referring to him and Schumacher] are 23 letters.

VM: And it’s his 23rd film [Referring to Schumacher].

JS: It’s my 23rd film.

Did weird things happen on the set?

JS: Well, I hired Danny and Virginia. I asked them to participate in the movie and then the first day of shooting I found out they had been married once.

VM: 23 years ago!

JS: Right. And I asked them if they would have a problem doing a sex scene together?

JC: We’re trying to keep them apart right now.

JS: I thought that was kind of, as Jim would say, ‘whooo.’ We had weird stuff happening every day.

JC: By the way, watch the Super Bowl. Keep your eye on Devin Hester.

So Jim, playing an animal catcher, do you feel you’ve come full circle from Ace Ventura ?

JC: Well, again, this is the way my life and the universe works basically is very mysterious. Movies find me, and I kind of just allow them to find me, and when it becomes a real good fit, I do them. And in this case it was the 23 phenomenon, and also the fact that he was a dog catcher was I think a really nice little wink toward my other work, so it was just all inclusive.

Jim staying on that frame of mind, you were very intense in this movie, is this going to start another direction in the way your career is going? I think this movie proves you’re the real McCoy when it comes to doing serious roles .

JC: Thanks very much, I appreciate that. Well, you know, I really have always thought of myself as somebody who lives in the middle of the wheel and is able to go to the extreme, to the outside of the wheel in any direction, so that’s kind of my… The best case scenario for me is to be able to be centered and then go out and you can be zany and funny or you can do something that really has some depth to it and serious. So there’s many different colors to paint with, and I would hate to get trapped in one little thing. I always feel like funny is an appendage, but it is not my whole body.

Which persona did you see yourself in – Fabrizia or Agatha?

VM: Well, I definitely… Agatha, but I mean, all of us have a dark side and all of us have an even darker side to our sexuality, and it was to tap into that. Everything that I play as an actress is a different aspect of me sort of being able to unlock that little door and show that. This movie was great because I just got to show a lot of different sides.

Danny Huston (DH): What was interesting was to play a character that in a sense is an extension of Jim’s character’s paranoia so you are in a way playing yourself but you’re also playing what Jim is feeling you are.

JS: Especially in the book.

DH: Exactly and also existing in this film noir gothic world that Joel has created.

JS: You like sort of being the Casanova kid actor a lot.

DH: Don’t I! [Schumacher laughs] As far as the number’s concerned, it just… I liken it to occasionally dabbling in gambling from time to time. You have a certain affection towards numbers and the moment the affection exists, you can’t help but find these coincidences everywhere. The superstition in a way is very contagious. After I saw the screening of the film the first time, a black cat crossed in front of me and I stopped immediately. Could that have something to do with the film? Has the film cursed me? And so you start to spin out. And that’s what was interesting from an acting point of view.

JC: Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

DH: Yeah.

JC: But it does get inside you a little bit.

DH: It gets you. Yeah.

JC: Hitchcock was wonderful in his approach to things. He would make you look at something normal in a completely way. Like in “The Birds,” it was like you could never look at birds the same way.

JS: Or the shower.

JC: Yeah, the shower, exactly. It tapped into some kind of weird little bugaboo that everybody has, the fear of what’s on the other side of that curtain.

JS: I could never dress up like my mother after that.

JC: Yeah, you had to let that go. (laughs)

JS: Got to let it go. (laughs) And that was such a great housedress too.

Jim you didn’t answer which character were you…

JC: Which character was I? All of the above.

Which did you feel the most comfortable being?

JC: Well I love Walter because he’s the family guy. He’s the guy who wants to have a normal life. He’s most of us who want just things to be stable. We’re in a constant state of denial that we live on plates of rock that are floating on molten magma and nothing is stable in the universe. We just want to keep things from moving too much or changing too much. So I like that character. He was very loving with his family and he loved his job. But the other character was a little bit different for me to play so that’s exciting for me.

JS: But you fell in love with playing Fingerling.

JC: I did like Fingerling, and Jenny (McCarthy) liked it.

VM: I know, she did.

JC: It’s weird. It’s amazing what a tattoo does for a girl.

JS: I don’t know if Billy’s here, Billy Corso was the make up artist, but Jim and Billy stayed up all one night in the trailer and invented that tattoo.

VM: I was so pleased.

JC: That was the reaction. It was hilarious because…

JS: It was so fabulous. I loved it. He thought I wouldn’t like it for some reason. He didn’t think I was hip enough to like this tattoo.

JC: That’s the villain.

JS: That’s what they told me.

JC: We didn’t know if you could get it. And he just went off for like three weeks he rubbed that one in. [Imitating Schumacher] ‘Yes, well, I have done some hip things in my day.’ That thing just drove us crazy. But, yeah, I wanted to approach it right, so I came up to Joel and I said, ‘I wanted to tell you Joel that I know we’re doing the scene with the shirt off today, and I have this tattoo, and Billy and I are used to covering it up so if you don’t want to use it, that’s totally cool. We’ll just use it for something else,’ and I took my shirt off and he went, ‘That can’t be real!’ [Laughs]

JS: I didn’t say that. I said ‘I love it!’

JC: Yeah, ‘I love it, it’s in the film.’ I said, ‘Seriously we can cover it up.’ He said, ‘It’s in the film.’ And Virginia was just standing there like this [Gives a blasé look]. She was just standing there looking wistful, so I knew it was working.

Can you describe it and how they put it on, and if you had to have it on for weeks at a time?

JC: Billy painted it, originally painted it on, and so we got on the computer and played around with photo shop and just did a mock up of it, and then I stood there and he painted it on me. We were there ‘til like four or five in the morning downtown in the middle of nowhere, but it was so great. It turned out really cool, and then he worked it out so he came up with this process where he could actually do little pieces of a decal kind of thing where he could stick it on. It still took awhile, but he’s just amazing.

JS: And because a lot of the Fingerling world is so graphic and black and white and red, it was perfect. It was perfect to set up a lot of… and Virginia is in the black wig and mostly black underwear I’d say. [Laughing] Fabrizia doesn’t get dressed a lot.

VM: No, I recall one scene where I am just walking out and I just take my coat -- like leave with the lingerie.

JC: And the interesting thing too is that our relationship in the two different worlds. It’s like, when I kiss her as my wife, as Walter, it’s loving and sweet and it’s beautiful, and when we are together as Fabrizia and Fingerling, it’s angry and it’s basically…

JS: Blood is exchanged.

JC: It’s biting and it’s eating. It’s consuming the other person. It’s pretty interesting.

VM: Yeah. [Laughing]

Jim, can I just ask you, do you have any tattoos? Do you want to have any?

JC: I like to start in the center. [Laughing] No.

Jim, is there anything that you’re obsessed with or that really consumes you?

JC: The only thing that has ever really consumed me is love from time to time. Feeling like, ‘What is it? How do I get it?’ You know, all of those things have consumed my mind from time to time. The rest of it is… my spiritual journey has been a good kind of thing that I’ve been on, I guess some people would say I’m obsessed with, but in a really good way. It’s just enjoyable. I don’t really have crazy obsessions about things.

JS: I think you are more seeking in that. I don’t think you’re obsessional. I think you are seeking. I think you’re a pupil. You’re a student.

JC: I think obsessions happen because you’re trying to understand something or some urge. Like in the film, I believe it’s trying to avoid something.

JS: Well, there are also magnificent obsessions and there are tragic, evil obsessions. So obsession can be a great thing and it can also destroy lives as we’ve seen.

Since you brought up Jenny [McCarthy] earlier…

JC: Oh, I did it. [Laughing] I see. Can we just take some personal responsibility for the question you’re about to ask?

JS: You opened the door as they’d say in the Supreme Court.

JC: This is your fault that I’m going to ask you something. [Laughing]

You talked about being on this spiritual journey. I mean obviously when you’re in love, you’re in a difference place anyway. Being with her, do you feel closer to that good place that you’re trying to get to?

JC: I feel that our relationship happened at a time that I am more ready than I have ever been in my life to have a relationship.

JS: This is the happiest I’ve ever seen Jim and we’ve been friends for a really long time.

JC: And we also encourage each other and we’re both on the same path, so it’s really nice.

JS: And I’ve seen you when you’ve been really suffering in love.

For the role of Fingerling, did you look at any noir characters in the past or from other film noir movies to get an inspiration for his personality and how he acts?

JC: No, I didn’t really. I thought that if I was in that position, if I was that guy, how I would see myself and how it would basically bleed into your hair and into your eyes and into everything about you. The coat, all the choices are choices that somebody makes because of what’s going on in their spirit, you know. Every choice we make is based on that. The colors we wear, everything. It just bleeds into everything. It starts with a lie the person believes about themselves or the delusion they are living with or the pain that they’ve kind of accumulated, the things they aren’t dealing with. It all creeps out in certain ways. It’s fascinating.

JS: I think that it was more original than the usual noir cop. Because when you see a cop, especially in a black coat like that in a noir setting, you expect them to be the cynical, burnt out, alcoholic, corrupt cop.

JC: We didn’t want him to be a life hater.

JS: But you see Walter, since it’s Walter’s delusion that has created this, there’s... I think the first time you see him is when he meets Fabrizia and you see one side of him. But when he goes to see the suicide blonde that Lynn Collins plays so brilliantly, there is a real compassion there, because of course, in Walter’s life his mother committed suicide and it’s the same actress who played his mother and the widow Dobkins and all that, because it’s all in his consciousness somewhere and subconsciousness.

So, I think you can see in that scene how much he wants for her to have a better life than she’s giving herself. And I think that’s what is different about it. It’s not, ‘Life is shit. Everyone is shit. I’m on the take.’ And I think that’s the difference that Jim brought to it because it had Walter’s spirit in it somewhere.

Jim, your character is in good shape. Did you do something special for this role? And did you play the saxophone at all? Your character looks like he’s playing the saxophone but we never hear it.

JC: You’re so lucky. [Laughing] I really just practiced some rudimentary things that I could do that would match the music, but I didn’t learn how to play the sax. I used to play the sax, oddly enough. See there are parallels all over the place. My father was an accountant, OK. He played the saxophone in a band. He had an orchestra. He played the saxophone. So, there were these parallels. I don’t know how many of them were actually in there already.

JS: Tons. Yes, tons.

JC: So there were all these parallels going on anyway. I played in the school band but I forgot how to play it.

JS: I didn’t want to stop the movie for saxophone interludes. [Laughing]

JC: No, no, nobody really wanted to see that.

JS: We had a lot of story to tell and the saxophone was one little tiny detail.

JC: Exactly and I try to stay in decent shape always. I pride myself on staying at least a month away from really good shape for something.

JS: The only reason I asked Jim to play the Riddler is he was the only person who could have worn that green elastic, spandex suit. He’s always been in great shape.

JC: That was on the thin side, that one.

JS: And he did all his own stunts in BATMAN FOREVER too because there is no one who can do Jim’s body language.

JC: It’s the weirdest thing. There are so many times I’m in positions where we try to double me in things and it can be literally the back of my body, like the back of my head or something, and they just go, ‘It just doesn’t look like him.’ [Laughing] I don’t know. There is something about my posture or something. I have no idea what it is.

JS: It’s body language.

Speaking of parallels, Jim, did you know that Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is 23 keystrokes on a computer?

JC: No, I didn’t know that. [Laughing]

We got you!

VM: Oh God. [Laughing]

Would you go back there at all?

JC: Yeah, sure, absolutely. Yeah, Burlington.

Would you go back there now knowing that there are 23 letters?

JC: Tomorrow, yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, it’s all working.

JS: 23 can bring good too.

JC: Yeah, it’s not a bad thing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Is Hamilton a good thing or a bad thing?

JC: It’s a good thing, man. It’s a tough town. It’s a tough town, steel town you know.

What do you remember about it?

JC: Just that and good people. I had a great time. I lived in Burlington for about eight years right across the bay. And I basically thought I was going to be working in Dofasco. I was basically, that was where I was going, so if the career in show business hadn’t panned out, I was looking for a job in one of the steel mills because they were the great jobs.

JS: We always have to have a back up plan. I had many. I still have one.

JC: Yeah, totally. I worked in Richmond Hill in a lot of the factories there and in many different factory jobs so I was kind of headed in that direction.

JS: Especially when you do stand up, you never know what is going to happen.

JC: Right, yeah. But the 23 thing, I just wanted to point out there is a double 32 on this. [Picking up a digital recorder]

VM That’s what he was showing me. I was like, ‘Oh my God!’

JC: I wanted to show you also this because the other day when I came a couple of days ago, I was with my assistant and I wanted people to see what I see everyday. So basically I started saying, ‘Just get your camera phone out and start taking pictures whenever you see it.’ [He shows a series of photographs] So this was the first thing, the tow truck right besides us with the number 23 on the side of it. I didn’t photo shop this. I don’t know why that is, the number 23 on the side.

I guess it’s the 23rd truck or something in their fleet. I don’t know what it is. So, I got them to take a picture of that. Then I looked to the car in front of us and that license plate started with 23. Then I got to the hotel room here and I was in 1223. Then I went out on my balcony and the address adjacent to the hotel is 323 if you want to see it when you leave. And then I ordered some breakfast [Shows photo of bowl of cereal with number 23 floating on top in the milk]. [Laughing] I mean, c’mon. Tell me that’s a coincidence. Tell me *that* is a coincidence. I mean look at that, man. That’s freaky. That’s eerie. [Schumacher and Carrey hum an eerie note together] OK, that last one was a joke, but the rest of them are real. The rest of them are real.

JS: A lot of them in the movie are real too. There is a website where people for years have been taking photos of the number 23 all over the planet. Why they do this, we don’t know, but I mean, you’ll see there are a lot of great photos of it. Some of them are in the movie. But the afternoon that Jim called me and said, ‘Are you going to do this movie The Number 23?’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Well, if you do it, I’ll do it.’ And I said, ‘Well if you do it, I’ll do it.’

And then that night I was really excited about it and it was about midnight and I’m brushing my teeth and I’m thinking, ‘Boy, I’ve made a lot of movies. This would be my 20th movie and Jim and I have been wanting to work together.’ And I said, “Gee I wish it was number 23.’ And I’m brushing away and then suddenly the other side of my brain says, ‘What about your three television movies.’ (Laughs) ‘Wouldn’t this be your 23rd directing job?’ And I remember I had a houseguest and I ran across the house and I knocked on the door. Eli was there with his girlfriend. And I said, ‘Eli!’ and he was fast asleep, and he was like, ‘Huh?’ and I said, ‘Guess what? This will be my 23rd film.’ And he went, ‘Um, yeah, okay man.’ [Laughing]

JC: That’s great man!

JS: So I couldn’t wait for the next morning to call Jim.

JC: Here is an example of something. I’m on the internet, IM’ing somebody, a friend of mine about changing the name of my company to JC23 and why I did it, about the valley of the shadow of death. At that very moment that I typed those words, a friend of mine walks into the room with a newspaper that on the front page is a giant picture of Death Valley and it says, ‘Death Valley Blooms’ and Death Valley was blooming for the first time in 100 years because of that extraordinary amount of rain we had that year and these seeds had been lying dormant for 100 years and suddenly it was all flowers.

And he was like, ‘We gotta go on a motorcycle trip man.’ And I was like, ‘Here we go. It’s leading me on some weird journey again.’ And so we got on the motorcycles, did a three-day trip through Death Valley, and came back, and the day we got back the Pope died at 2:37 eastern standard time -- 23 which is the valley of the shadow of death and 7 which is the number of completion in the bible. Everything is based on 7 in the bible. Starts and ends with 7. Pretty trippy.

Come back tomorrow for PART 2...

Source: JoBlo.com

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