Jim Carrey Has Never Said 'Yes' To A Movie Faster Than The Truman Show

Jim Carrey's 1998 film "The Truman Show" continues to be his best movie, even 25 years after it was made. It predicted the reality television craze and America's obsession with the lives of others years before social media and shows like "Big Brother" and "The Real Housewives" took over television. Wow, was it accurate! In 2015 there were a whopping 750 reality TV shows on the air during primetime.

In a world where shows like "Milf Manor" exist (on The Learning Channel, of all things!), a concept like "The Truman Show" is no longer far-fetched or satirical but something considered very possible (or dare I say, even boring). In addition to reality TV, every day, YouTubers and Twitch streamers are making millions documenting their own lives online. The only reason we haven't seen a program like "The Truman Show" is that Hollywood found a way to produce reality TV cheaper than it would cost to fabricate an entire town.

In "The Truman Show," insurance salesman Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is living a banal existence when he experiences an awakening. After discovering his entire life has been fabricated as part of a reality TV show, he plans a daring escape from his televised prison to live his own life.

The film does far more than predict reality TV: it serves as a scathing critique of modern television and the media that came before it. And Jim Carrey wasted no time saying yes to the novel concept.

Carrey already had the idea in his head

"The Truman Show" is set in the fictional town of Seahaven, a sanitized, problem-free society straight out of the middle-class suburban 1950s. Consider it "Happy Days" on steroids. It is a post-war "American Dream" straight out of '50s television. It was a concept that immediately appealed to Jim Carrey.

In an interview with Screen Rant, Carrey explained why he's never said yes to a movie faster than "The Truman Show." "First of all," the actor said, "I had thought of that concept two years before. I had noodled with it, but I couldn't break the code. And then when I was handed that script, Andrew Nichols' script, I read it and knew probably within 10 pages that I had to do the movie."

Carrey was right to say yes so quickly because the movie was truly like nothing Hollywood had seen before. Director Peter Weir brilliantly combines traditional cinematography techniques with hidden camera/reality TV style imagery that turns viewers from traditional audience members into voyeurs, hanging on Truman's every move like a viewer of the show in the movie.

The film offers clever flashbacks through the lens of the TV show, revealing how Truman first meets the woman who inspires his awakening and how she was removed from the program. We're also yanked out of Seahaven by way of a network special featuring an interview with show creator Cristof (Ed Harris), where we learn how Truman was adopted by the studio as a newborn.

The film manages to make us feel like we're watching a movie and the TV show within the movie at the same time. It also asks us to question everything we think we know about the media.

The film asks one big question

The film predicts the trend of reality television that's been going steady for more than two decades now. But it also serves as a critique of modern media that took root decades prior. "The Truman Show" asks its protagonist (and audience) to answer one question: who defines our reality? For Truman Burbank, the answer up until the end of "The Truman Show" is the media.

Carrey believes that's true for a lot of people today and sees plenty of parallels between the movie and our current society. In a 2018 interview, the actor told Variety:

"When I sit in a car or in a van or a room, and I see 90 percent of the people with their faces glowing and their eyes in the palm of their hand, I go, 'This is Orwellian.' Their consciousness has been reduced to what other people think, period."

The film has plenty to say about consumerism as well. Whenever Truman panics, he is greeted with consumer-driven products. A dutiful wife and efficient product peddler, Truman's wife, Meryl (Laura Linney) makes note of the "dicer, grater and peeler, all-in-one" she got at the grocery store. At one point she goes into a full-on cocoa commercial. In times of crisis, his best friend Marlon (Noah Emmerich) conveniently shows up with a comforting six-pack of beer.

"The Truman Show" is a high-concept critique of media and capitalism and is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. It was also a brilliant choice for Jim Carrey to make his break from the string of zany '90s comedies that made him a star. Although labeled a comedy, the film's unexpected depth and its enduring message are only matched by Carrey's surprising dramatic performance.