By EW Staff
Updated November 14, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
Ron Batzdorff

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

  • Movie

It seems like such a simple story. the curmudgeonly recluse Grinch tries to keep Christmas from the people of Whoville, only to realize that the yuletide spirit goes much deeper than tinsel and toys. Dr. Seuss practically told the tale with illustrations, so making the movie version couldn’t be that complicated, right? Humbug! ”It was like being buried alive,” says Carrey, who won a role once thought to be a natural for Jack Nicholson and endured nearly five hours of makeup each morning for nearly 100 days to become the grumbling green grouch.

”We basically mummified him,” says producer Brian Grazer, ”with prosthetics and contact lenses in his eyes the size of Frisbees. Then we made him breathe in synthetic snow all day long.” The star almost couldn’t take it. ”One day, about three weeks into it, I really flipped out,” he says. ”I literally tore my head off. I just had to get out of the costume.” Help came in the form of an ex Navy SEAL who taught Carrey the same techniques used by the military to endure torture. ”He showed me simple secrets like rolling a rock in my left hand and pinching myself in the leg — things to divert the discomfort. After a while, I actually got to enjoy it.”

For Howard, the challenge was keeping things funny in spite of the arduous makeup and visual effects. ”This was more like a science fiction action movie,” he says. ”Everything was technical. Everyone stood around scratching their heads after every shot. Luckily, Jim lit up the set when I said ‘action.”’ It helped that the star’s such a Seussophile. ”I grew up on the stuff,” Carrey says, which came in handy, since he had to convince Theodor ”Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s widow that he was Grinch material.

Episode Recaps

Trouble was, when Audrey Geisel visited the ”Man on the Moon” set, Carrey was still in full Andy Kaufman mode. ”Andy did me a favor,” Carrey says. ”He went out and talked to Audrey and did his best impression of me doing the Grinch. And she liked it!” GOOD SIGN Born to this part Carrey certainly was… THEN AGAIN …but revamping a classic might lead to bad buzz.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 102 minutes