Jim Carrey Fills His First Novel With Celebrity Cameos: "Nic Cage Loved It"

FilmMagic; Jason LaVeris/Courtesy of Penguin Random House

The funnyman teams with writer Dana Vachon on 'Memoirs and Misinformation,' a fictional story that features a depressed antihero of the same name as the star and an apocalyptic climax.

It wasn't supposed to be a novel. When Jim Carrey swung into writer Dana Vachon's orbit eight years ago, the star of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Cable Guy and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was simply searching for someone to pen essays inspired by his paintings, which had not yet become those grotesque caricatures mocking Donald Trump that would go viral online.

While that idea didn't quite pan out, the pair instantly bonded over a shared obsession — bingeing quasi-scientific reality shows on Netflix. "You could watch the destruction of Pompeii, you could watch the supposed alien origins of the race, and you could learn about the Megalodon, 'terror of the ancient seas,' " says Vachon. "That set us off in the right direction."

And so that's how we meet "Jim Carrey," the depressed antihero of their collaborative fiction, Memoirs and Misinformation (Knopf) — he's glued to a TV and floating through a somnambulistic simulacrum of a Hollywood superstar's life.

A big part of the fun of Memoirs is guessing which of the many celebrity cameos — everyone from Nicolas Cage to Gwyneth Paltrow to Rodney Dangerfield (reincarnated as a digital rhino) — are pulled from real life. THR can confirm that at least one exchange, in which Carrey and Anthony Hopkins discuss how Ace Ventura was inspired by a bird and Hannibal Lecter by a tarantula, really happened.

None of the boldfaced names in the book was warned about his or her appearance but were sent advance copies of the book. "Nic Cage just loved it," says Carrey, star of the Showtime series Kidding. "He was completely out of his mind. I said, 'But I'm poking fun at you!' And he said, 'I don't care about that. I'm totally honored. Excalibur! It's Arthurian.' "

One of the recurring motifs in the book is the polarized pull of commerce and art — Jim wants to make Charlie Kaufman's meta Mao Zedong movie while his agents push him toward kiddie fare based on Play-Doh and the tabletop marbles game Hungry Hungry Hippos. That part of the book Jim Carrey (the real one) can definitely identify with. "There are times when your people come to you and go, 'You know, you need to get back on the boards and here's how you do it.' And every instinct in your body as an artist starts to reel, because you want to just do the things that really mean something to you," he says.

For the record, Memoirs and Misinformation was written well before he made the kid-friendly film Sonic the Hedgehog — and that wasn't its only foresight. An apocalyptic climax hits particularly close to home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which Carrey chalks up to more than coincidence. "It's frightening to see how prescient this book has become in certain ways," he says. "But a birth of a new age is happening. I don't think we can be the same after all of this."

Carrey and Vachon will discuss their new book in a virtual panel moderated by Mitchell Kaplan on Thursday, July 9 at 6 p.m. PT and will be introduced by Judy Blume. 

 

This story first appeared in the July 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.