Behind the scenes of: The Grinch (2000)
(the title was later changed to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in the UK).
Jim Carrey poses for a picture with Eddie Murphy who was apparently filming Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps on the same Universal backlot at the time.
Incidentally, Eddie Murphy was one of the actors considered to play the Christmas stealing humbug!
Before his death in 1991, Dr. Seuss (real name Theodor Seuss Geisel) had turned down offers to sell the film rights to any of his books. That all changed after his death however when his widow, Audrey Geisel agreed to several merchandising deals.
In 1998 her agents announced by letter that she would be auctioning off the film rights to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, but she had quite a few stipulations…
As well as demanding certain financial sums for the material including percentages of the box office takings, Geisel was quite choosy over which actor should play the lovable anti-hero.
In the letter she stated, "any actor submitted for the Grinch must be of comparable stature to Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman."
She even stipulated that the estate would not consider a director or writer who had not earned at least $1 million on a previous picture.
Although Murphy wasn’t mentioned in the letter, his stature at the time (especially after doing a string of family orientated movies around that time) qualified him to be at least considered.
In hindsight, Eddie Murphy should probably be relieved the role went to Jim Carrey.
Carrey had a hard time making the movie due to the amount of make up involved.
Each day he’d be in the make up chair for around 8 hours (that’s a day’s work for me) while artists would apply animatronic prosthetics, dentures, contact lenses and then finally zip him into a spandex suit covered in dyed green Yak hair.
Carrey said in an interview on the Graham Norton show that it was “literally like being buried alive every day".
Jim Carrey having his Prosthetics applied
His mood and behaviour on set was unsurprisingly affected by the stress of having to wear the extremely uncomfortable and hot suit and heavy makeup. A number of make up artists even walked out because of this and had to be talked into coming back.
Carrey almost quit himself after the first day of filming after getting so frustrated that he kicked a hole through the wall of his trailer and told director Ron Howard that he couldn’t do the movie.
Jim Carrey with producer, Brian Grazer (left) and director, Ron Howard (right)
In the end they came up with a “brilliant idea”. Jim said on the same Graham Norton interview that they decided to hire “a gentleman who is trained to teach CIA operatives how to endure torture.”
He was told to “eat everything you see and if you’re freaking out and start to spiral downward, turn the television on. Change a pattern, have someone you know come up and smack you in the head, punch yourself in the leg, or smoke. Smoke as much as you possibly can.”
It obviously worked because it certainly didn’t affect his performance in the movie!
The Grinch is essential Christmas viewing in the Screen Room household.