Jim Carrey’s beloved fantasy comedy film The Mask was originally intended to be a horror movie.
The 1994 movie – starring the Hollywood funnyman and a young Cameron Diaz – was a huge box office hit and is still popular with family audiences now who love Carrey as unlucky bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss and his madcap green-faced alter ego.
Now, director Chuck Russell has revealed he had to battle bosses at New Line to let him make the film a comedy as opposed to the horror romp they had envisioned.
Speaking to Xfinity about the 30th anniversary of his cult classic Freddy Krueger installment A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Russell said: “It’s a great example of really fighting for your vision in a film. We changed it from a horror film into a comedy. It was original conceived as being a horror film. That was a real battle. New Line wanted a new kind of Freddy [Krueger] movie.”
The I Am Wrath helmer understands why New Line thought the character would best be presented on the big screen as murderous villain because the Dark Horse comic book series – which is what the film is based on – presents a far more gruesome individual.
Russell added: “By coincidence, I had seen the same original Mask comic they ended up buying, and I thought, ‘That’s really cool, but it’s too derivative of Freddy Krueger.’ It really was. He would put on the mask and kill people. And have one-liners. It was a really cool, splatterpunk, black and white comic. They’ve redone the comics to be more like my movie, but the original comics were really cool, dark and scary. But I knew, as a film, it would be very reminiscent of Freddy Krueger.”
The Mask was one of three films released that year starring Carrey, the other two being Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which made him a global superstar.
Russell, 59, knew he wanted Carrey, 55, for the lead role, even though he wasn’t widely known back then, after watching him do a stand-up comedy routine in Los Angeles.
The filmmaker shared: “He wasn’t really desired as a leading man at that time. [When I saw] him he looked like a hallucination live on stage. Jim read it and he said, ‘I’ll be doing this role at grocery store openings when I’m 70.’ “