Jim Carrey is by far, one of the most versatile and talented actors of our time — effortlessly transitioning from comedic to dramatic roles without missing a beat. As a grandfather to a three year old boy, Carrey now has another amazing credit to add to his already impressive resume…children’s book author.
Carrey is the author of How Roland Rolls, a beautifully illustrated story about a wave named Roland who contemplates his own mortality. What might seem a heavy topic for kids, Carrey has found a way to make the concept relatable and comforting for kids and adults. Carrey’s daughter Jane, a musician, singer and songwriter, collaborated with her dad, writing several songs for How Roland Rolls ebook which will be released this November.
I recently got the chance to speak with Carrey while he was on the set of Dumb and Dumber To, and he was as funny, friendly and inspiring as ever. Take a look…
You’ve accomplished so much in your career and now you have a new first — children’s book author. How long has this been a dream of yours and what was the inspiration behind How Roland Rolls**?**
Jim Carrey: I’ve always loved relating to kids. I have one of those personalities that kids gravitate towards. I always think of myself as a man child to a certain extent. This story came to me because I had a lot of these heavy thoughts when I was a kid. I had a lot of fears about mortality and where people were going because my mom was sick. I never really got those questions answered but I was always asking the questions. When I was growing up, there were two things going on. I wanted to make my mom feel better because she wasn’t feeling well a lot of the time. And my father was very funny and very childlike and really a wonderful man and I remember that moment where I looked up at him in the living room when he held court. And he was one of the funniest guys on the earth. Everyone would walk out of my house saying “Oh that Percy. He’s insane. He’s just wonderful,” and then I took over and we were like a tag team.
I was two people – I was entertaining people in the living room and trying to find out the meaning of life in my bedroom. And kids don’t get credit for having those thoughts and they do. They really do wonder about creation and so it was my way of relating to them on that level. And also, it’s not just for kids. I have certain beliefs about what we are that there’s a larger self. That makes you feel a lot more secure than being a part of a tiny individual fighting the universe.
With this book, you are collaborating with your daughter, when did you sense with Jane that she had was incredibly talented too?
Jim Carrey: Jane is very subtle. She is at the very end of the spectrum from me style wise but she’s very much like me in many, many ways. As far as her style goes, I used to drive around in the car with her and I’d play this game where I’d try to come up with the harmonies for songs and I’d sing out loud and I was pretty out there and she would sing very very quietly in the passenger seat and you could hardly hear her. And then one day I just realized, I heard her a little bit and I went, “Wow.” She was still a little kid and this was a very well formed kind of musical lick she was doing and I was going “Wow, she has actual moves, she’s an actual singer.” When she was in her early teens, she started writing these songs and they were so deep and so lyrically interesting and the finesse in her work and her songwriting, her melody writing is incredible. She’s an amazing talent and it makes me so proud because these things keep coming up from generation to generation.
You are the master of expressions can you tell me how you were able to share your zany expressions that were featured in the book with illustrator Rob Nason?
Jim Carrey: Well we were on Skype a lot. I did the initial drawings and then every couple of days we’d get on Skype and I’d say he needs to have more expression and more joy. It’s a thing I call “Boing.” People get confused when I say “boing.” Boing can be the holy spirit. Boing is the force. It’s enthusiasm. It’s that energy that makes you bigger than life and a geyser of joy. The only way to explain it to him was to show him the expression myself. It all comes from a feeling. Rob’s paintings are amazing. His images are cinematic. They are incredible and they are way beyond what I expected. I’m so proud of it. Now that the book has come out, all the kids are putting their funny faces up on the website and not only the kids, but the adults too. That’s the fun part too.
The book is dedicated to your grandson Jackson. What did he think of the book?
Jim Carrey: He loved it so much. I watched him have the moment that I had with my dad. When I was in the studio with Jane recording the songs. She was holding him on her lap and I was being Roland and I was singing the songs which will all be on the ebook in November and I saw him on her lap looking at me with the funniest look on his face like “Oh my gosh. Grandpa is crazy.” But I felt that moment. And sure enough a week and a half later, he heard “Keep on Rollin’” once and Jane suddenly heard him singing upstairs and he had his plastic guitar and he sang the whole song. We got it on videotape. He knew the whole song. And he had been bitten. It was wonderful.
How Roland Rolls recently won the Gillett Burgess Award for excellence in children’s books. How exciting is it as a first time author to recognized by such a prestigious organization?
Jim Carrey: It’s such an honor. It’s been one of the great thrills of my life. This whole experience really. The greatest part about it is knowing that people are going to sit down at the end of the day with their kids to read a story is just a thrill beyond what I can tell you. And the kids will love the character and look at the ocean next time and go “There’s Roland.”