Carrey had laid eyes on Lauren Holly – she was on the short list for the female lead in Ace that Courteney Cox eventually played – yet wasn't moved to act territorial when director Tom Shadyac asked Holly out on a couple of dates. To hear Shadyac tell it, Carrey was indeed torn up by his marital problems – so much so that on a shooting day covering part of Ace's climactic scene in a Miami boathouse, Shadyac found his star in tears in the trailer, embarrassed but willing to shoot after he carefully dripped water into Shadyac's eyes, then led him to the set as if the two had been having a teary personal moment over Shadyac's problems.
By the time Carrey returned to L.A. and took up residence in his own apartment, the separation was real enough, with each dating others. But no formal declaration had been made, says Melissa, until the day she picked up the phone as she was giving Jane a bath. " "We need to talk. I want to come over,' " she recalls Jim saying. "I'm on my way somewhere," she says she told him (she was due for a shrink appointment).
" 'I'm going through with it' he said."
" 'With the divorce.' "
Jim Carrey filed on Nov. 1; the news arrived via People magazine before the court papers reached Melissa, and the rest has been a protracted wrangle (with Melissa signing a separation agreement, Jim's camp points out, giving an earlier date of separation than that she's now claiming). Perhaps the emotional nadir for her came on the day she went to Salt Lake City to visit Jim during his four-day convalescence from the gallbladder removal that interrupted Dumb and Dumber's shooting. Melissa had informed his assistant Linda she would be in town but knocked on his hotel door without a call.. She held a dozen balloons for Jane and a couple of presents for Jim. The door swung open on a small group that included Holly. "I walked in the door, and I knew," Melissa says. "Everybody got real quiet. Jim got real nervous. And Lauren ran out of the room."
Holly had resisted the liaison from the first, hating the cliche of actors dating their co-stars. In fact, when her couple of dates with Shadyac had developed into simple friendship, he'd told her she and Jim Carrey were an ideal match. "I got furious that he was rude enough to imply that I'd have an affair with my co-star," Holly says. Carrey, too, refuted Dumb producer Charlie Wessler's insistence that he would fall for Holly. Despite it all – Holly even changed hotels in Salt Lake City to resist the inevitable – their co-star Jeff Daniels woke up one morning in the Stephen King suite in the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colo., to a surprise. "I was up at 7 a.m., packed and ready, and Lauren was in the suite next to me – I could see her door," Daniels says. "And it opens, and Jim comes out. That's when I first realized that perhaps they were together."
Melissa Carrey reiterates that Holly's not to blame for her woes. Most important, the couples daughter, Jane, "likes [Holly], and that's what counts. She's a nice person." And Melissa says she's gotten past the worst of it, "the panic attacks and extreme emotional depression." The evening she can't forget is their 6th anniversary, March 28, 1993, when Jim was just days away from leaving for the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective set. He brought her to a catered dinner in a grand Beverly Hills hotel ballroom, and Phil Roy played with a jazz trio hired for the occasion. She went through so many Kleenex, "they had to bring me a trash can." What she took at the time to be a landmark is a bittersweet memory now.
The bottle with dinner is long gone, the bottle without dinner has just bitten the dirt, and the only things airborne around Jim Carrey's ranch-house porch are the moths beating themselves against a low-watt yellow bulb. Carrey does not appear to be substantially wounded by the three-plus hours of tasting. Early history with his mothers alcoholic parents – her father would taunt Carrey's dad, "call him a loser" – has left him with little patience for drunks. Similarly, he can't stand formula jokes: "As soon as I hear somebody saying, These two guys . . . " something blanks out in my head, and I don't even want to . . . I don't even want to live anymore."
A greater hazard of the profession is overzealous fans. Recently, Carrey dared a noisy bar in San Antonio and "got women jumping on my back." One asked Holly, "Can I hug your boyfriend?" but quickly abandoned the idea when Holly said, "Can I hug yours?"
Then, too, there are the hounds of the media. Even in his well-fenced home not far from the O.J. Simpson mansion, in Brentwood, Calif, Carrey has been filmed from his own back yard. Impatient as Carrey is with all that, Apatow feels that Jim's spiritual side – when he lived with Melissa, he went to not only his Catholic services but also her Presbyterian ones – helps him: "There is that aspect of Jim that I think finds peace in the greater plan. So he doesn't have to be that mad at Hard Copy."
Carrey says his pursuers "are just silly. Like when I see them around with the cameras and stuff, I just feel sad. That there are human beings that choose that for themselves. Because at some point you've got to look back on your life and go, "What good did I do?' "
Carrey has finished off this thought at the return of his houseguest Phil Roy, who has been out for drinks and steaks with the ex-dirt-bike racer who is Carvey's driver on the shoot. Roy is induced to pull out his acoustic guitar – a beautiful black-toned thing that was a gift from Carrey – and together, with feeling and volume, they sing "Heaven Down Here." After the opening line – "What are you waiting for? Believe in me . . . " – the message is in the melody, which Carrey passionately embroiders. "Watch out who you play that for, man," Carrey says in the silence afterward. "You'll never get rid of them."
Carrey is profoundly glad to have Holly to concentrate on. "When we first met, she called me the runaway train," he says. "I've been in the station for a while now." He had found his several months of dating around "horrifying. I hated it. I had suddenly become a big star. And I realized – not trying to be egotistical – I could get laid every hour on the hour. I quickly found out that I'm not the dog that I thought it was maybe possible for me to be. The bottom line is, I really want to love somebody. I do. I just don't know if it's possible forever and ever. But I'll work on it. I'll try. I am not going to end up at the Roxbury, sitting in a booth with bodyguards on both sides, going, 1 want her.' That's just not me.
"At a certain point I really do want to find somebody that I can watch their hair turn gray," Carrey says. "I am absolutely head over heels in love right now. It's wonderful. Lauren Holly is absolutely the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth to me right now, and she is brilliant, talented, selfless, caring, loving, the best combination of everything you could ever think of." Carrey interrupts himself long enough to step a couple of paces off the porch and answer nature's call. "I just don't want to live a lie, that's all," he says. "Lauren and I have been real careful about not being that cliche – the tattoo on the arm. I'm with Lauren because she really makes me happy. And the day that I don't make her happy, you know, I hope she fucking leaves me in the dust.
"I hate when I see people go on talk shows," Carrey continues, "and they just married the supermodel of the century, and they are like 'This is it, absolutely.' That to me is arrogant in the face of nature. It'd be an incredibly wonderful thing if I end up being, like, 80 years old, and me and Lauren are heading out having a great old time. But as soon as you say you know, the universe will prove you wrong."
The phone has rung twice tonight – none other than Holly waits for the talking to end – and Carrey is ready to sum up, return the calls and maybe get a few hours of sleep before tomorrow's early call.
"I get upset because Jim doesn't sleep when he's shooting," says Holly. "He just gets so adrenalized." The upside of their enforced separation, she adds, is that "I get to go to sleep, relax."
Melissa Carrey insists the manic behavior is a holdover from the dark days when Jim would sit on the floor and howl "Jim is an extremely depressive person. I know, because I would sit up counseling him through it until 4 or 5 in the morning on many, many nights. At night he has to face himself, and he so much does not want to do that that this adrenalin rushes up in him."
Holly offers a different take. "Many comedians have had pain and tragedy – he's had a lot in his life," she says. "But he doesn't dwell there. He dwells in a really normal, nice space where he's just kind of sweet. I don't date a guy who's Mr. Darkness."
Jim Carrey looks appreciatively at the wide sweep of lawn before him, the still pond beyond. "After four weeks, I'll be ready to get out of here," he says. "Enough beauty already. I'm pretty citified. I like to be able to kind of open the window and hear people's voices, you know? I like to hear life."
Life has been mostly movie sets for a while now. Carrey will pay that price. Perhaps, as Melissa Carrey says, "he is completely the byproduct of his creativity." In Carrey's words it's "tunnel vision. I have a team that works like dogs, doing creative things with my career, but I'm constantly holding them off – 'Look, I'm in a project now, don't come to me with 17 other projects, because I don't want to be one of these guys that lives their life just excited about tomorrow and fucking up their work today. It's basically, I'm painting, leave me alone. It goes back to my bedroom and drawing pictures. You know? Don't bug me – I'm drawing right now."
This story is from the July 13th, 1995 issue of Rolling Stone.
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