June 5, 2017


'The Mask' Was Almost a Horror Film With Jim Carrey as a Freddy Krueger–Type Killer

New Line Cinema/Getty Images
New Line Cinema/Getty Images

Director Chuck Russell (The Scorpion King, Eraser, last year's I Am Wrath) recently spoke to Xfinity (via Bloody Disgusting) about the 30th anniversary of his first film, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

At the end of the convo, they touched on 1994's The Mask, a screwball comedy that arrived the same year Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective made Jim Carrey a superstar. "It’s a great example of really fighting for your vision in a film. We changed it from a horror film into a comedy," Russell said. "It was original conceived as being a horror film. That was a real battle. New Line wanted a new kind of Freddy [Krueger] movie."

Here's more of the background:

"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."

He said The Mask's script was essentially made for Carrey, who was 32 when the movie premiered and "wasn’t really desired as a leading man at that time." Russell had seen him do stand-up in L.A. and thought he "looked like a hallucination live on stage." Carrey loved the material and sensed its long shelf life. "He read it and he said, 'I’ll be doing this role at grocery store openings when I’m 70.'"

And if you still have trouble wondering how Carrey managed the demented physicality of the role, there's a reason for it. "While I was working with him, I used to sort of play challenge games with him to do physical comedy that he couldn’t imagine and I couldn’t imagine," Russell said.

For more nostalgia mania, listen to Fuse's nostalgia podcast Besterday celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Eminem Show: