Jim Carrey publicly announced that he has withdrawn his support from his upcoming film Kick-Ass 2, and will not be involved with its promotion. The actor, who portrays Colonel Stars & Stripes, an ex-Mafia member turned masked vigilante, has decided that the violent nature of the superhero sequel conflicts with his standing sensitivity over tragedies like 2012’s Sandy Hook shooting. Carrey tweeted over the weekend: “I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
Although the storyline’s inclusion of a violent 11-year-old (Chloë Grace Moretz) has been met with controversy in the past, the nature of the film hadn’t prevented the actor from signing onto the project in the first place, nor have any events since inspired any previous vocalization of conflict about his involvement. In March, Carrey opened up to MTV News about the relationship between the film’s super-violence and his beliefs about gun control in the aftermath of the devastation in Connecticut:
“…my character is a guy that came from a violent background who is trying to turn it around and he uses a gun with no bullets in it. These are things I am considering now because I just feel like we don’t cause the problem, but we don’t help it much either. So, I am becoming more conscious of that. And I made Kick-Ass before all the things, the unfortunate shootings happened and stuff happened, and so that’s kind of a little interesting blast from the past almost. But it’s just going to be a great movie but I’m being careful with choices.”
Mark Millar, the writer and creator of the Kick-Ass comic book series as well as the executive producer for the two films, is inevitably astonished about the comedian’s sudden transition from big fan to disapproving criticizer. In a statement posted on Millar World a few hours after Carrey’s announcement, Millar replies:
“First off, I love Jim Carrey. When producer Matthew Vaughn and director Jeff Wadlow called me up and suggested we do a conference call with him to talk about the sequel to the 2010 original I was genuinely excited. Like you, I love Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. Carrey is an actor like no other, an unpredictable force of nature who brings a layered warmth and humanity to his work as well as that unstoppable energy he’s always been renowned for. He had lunch with Matthew around the time of the first movie and dug it so much he appeared that night on Conan O’Brien DRESSED as Kick-Ass, singing a duet with Conan dressed as Superman. Vaughn and I made a mental note to work with this guy as soon as possible as we’re both huge admirers.
Cut to almost three years later and I’m sitting in a screening room in London watching what I think is one of Carrey’s best-ever performances. I’d seen Kick-Ass 2 in many forms, but this was the absolute final cut complete with opening titles, music and a terrific post-credit sequence you’re all going to love. I couldn’t be happier with this picture. It’s as good as the original and in many ways BIGGER as it expands upon the universe and really takes things to the next level. There are a lot of stand-outs in the sequel, every actor really firing on full cylinders and an amazing script that moves like a rocket. But Carrey in particular is magnificent. He’s never done anything like this before and even from the trailer, with his masked dog sidekick specially trained to munch criminal balls, you can see that something really fun and special is happening here. Colonel Stars and Stripes is so charismatic and all his scenes are up there with Nic Cage’s amazing turn as Big Daddy in the original… which made it all the more surprising when Jim announced tonight that the gun-violence in Kick-Ass 2 has made him withdraw his support from the picture.
As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I’m baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn’t in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us HIT-GIRL was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much. My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you’re going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon. Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it’s the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim’s character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.
Ultimately, this is his decision, but I’ve never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can’t be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie. Imagine a John Wayne picture where he wasn’t packing or a Rocky movie where Stallone wasn’t punching someone repeatedly in the face. Our audience is smart enough to know they’re all pretending and we should instead just sit back and enjoy the serotonin release of seeing bad guys meeting bad ends as much as we enjoyed seeing the Death Star exploding. The action in Kick-Ass 2 is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The humour, the characters, the heart and the set-pieces are all things we’re very proud of and the only warning I’d really include is that it’s almost TOO EXCITING. Kick-Ass 2 is fictional fun so let’s focus our ire instead of the real-life violence going on in the world like the war in Afghanistan, the alarming tension in Syria right now and the fact that Superman just snapped a guy’s fucking neck.
Jim, I love ya and I hope you reconsider for all the above points. You’re amazing in this insanely fun picture and I’m very proud of what Jeff, Matthew and all the team have done here.”
It seems like Carrey’s sudden change of heart is a reflection of his dual personalities in Me, Myself & Irene. Regardless of how he’s feeling, Kick-Ass 2 will fire into theatres on August 16, with or without the star’s support.