How a CIA Torture Expert Helped Jim Carrey With 'The Grinch'

Actor, artist, and political satirist Jim Carrey is known for playing a variety of eccentric movie roles. Able to glide between the comedic and the serious, he immortalized characters such as Ace Ventura, Fire Marshall Bill, Lloyd, Truman, The Mask, and the Grinch.

After seeing Carrey’s performances, you may assume that he’s a natural when it comes to taking on the unconventional. But when it came to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, they had to call in a professional.

Jim Carrey played the Grinch in 2000

20 years after its release, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is still one of the most popular Christmas comedies. Even when it’s not Christmas, people love to watch Carrey’s version of the Dr. Seuss classic.

In spite of what critics had to say about the film, audiences praised the Ron Howard-directed film and Carrey’s take on the notoriously grumpy (but lonely) Grinch.

Behind the scenes, a lot of care went into creating Whoville, the costumes, and all the special effects that made the set feel and look like the famous book. The film wound up grossing more than $500 million globally, proving that all that hard work paid off.

A CIA expert was brought in for Jim Carrey’s Grinch prep work

You may think torture consultants are best reserved for action films, thrillers, or horror movies, but that wasn’t the case with the Grinch. The crew behind How the Grinch Stole Christmas hired a CIA torture specialist to work on the kids’ film with Carrey. Why? He needed help adjusting to wearing the suit and heavy makeup.

During an appearance on the Graham Norton Show, Carrey spoke about how it took 8 ½ hours for the crew to get him in the Grinch garb and he almost quit. According to him, they hired “a gentleman who is trained to teach CIA operatives how to endure torture.”

He said he was taught how to cope with freaking out by turning on the TV and changing his patterns. He was also advised to “have someone you know come up and smack you in the head, punch yourself in the leg, or smoke.”

Carrey recalled how he’d often sit back in the full Grinch getup smoking a cigarette with a cigarette holder. He joked that it was horrifying but he kept telling himself it was for the kids.  

About that Grinch costume

Carrey talked about how the furry outfit was made from yak hair. It’s true. Designed by Rick Baker, the costume consisted of sewn in, hand-dyed yak fur. Per Entertainment Weekly, the suit was terribly hot inside and caused Carrey to sweat profusely even though Howard provided fans to help keep him cool.

At the end of a filming day it’d be dredged, and it was a task to remove the suit off Carrey’s body. But he was dedicated to doing the job and stuck it out — with the help of that CIA expert.

He told EW, “The best directors are the ones you don’t want to disappoint, and I didn’t want to disappoint Ron Howard.” You’ll probably never look at Jim Carrey’s Grinch the same way again.

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