EXCLUSIVE: Larry Charles, who steered Sacha Baron Cohen through audacious comic turns in Bruno and Borat, is now ready to do the same for Jim Carrey. Charles has signed on to direct Pierre Pierre, a comedy that has Carrey playing the role of a Frenchman who transports a stolen painting from Paris to London, behaving more obnoxiously than any waiter you’ve ever encountered at Cannes.
This project is moving forward again after weathering some serious setbacks. Two years ago, the script by then-unknowns Edwin Cannistraci and Frederick Seton made the Black List and sold for $1 million, with Carrey to star and Juno‘s Jason Reitman attached to direct. Fox Atomic’s Debbie Liebling and Peter Rice won the bidding battle over three others. Then: Reitman dropped out; Fox Atomic imploded; Liebling moved to Universal; Rice moved up in the Fox hierarchy. Sans champion, Pierre Pierre fell into turnaround. With Charles aboard, the comedy will be shopped again by its producers, Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, and Category 5′s Brian Sher. They plan to make the movie for just over $20 million.
As a connoisseur of physical comic performances, I salivated over the prospect of Carrey playing Curly Howard (each the best physical comic of his generation) in the Farrelly Brothers-directed The Three Stooges. That opportunity might have been squandered by MGM’s fiscal paralysis, though I hear there’s a chance Carrey will do it if Sean Penn remains in the fold as Larry Fine. Short of Curly, the prospect of seeing Carrey commit to an outrageous original comic character creation in a strong script at a $20 million budget is a gamble someone will take. If you consider Ace Ventura, The Mask, Liar, Liar, Dumb & Dumber Me, Myself & Irene or others, nobody touches Carrey’s raw physical comedy skills, even if he doesn’t use them often enough.