Op-ed: How Bumping Into Jim Carrey Changed Everything

An accident on the set of a Jim Carrey film is just the beginning of Dan Steadman's entertainment career.

BY Dan Steadman

November 21 2012 4:00 AM ET

Dan Steadman and Jim Carrey in The Majestic

I wasted too many of my pretty years working as a personal assistant, and at the age of 28, I was ready to finally grab the reins of my career. I was set to make my show business dreams come true, so I moved to Los Angeles to really kick-start my professional life.

That year Jim Carrey seemed to feel the same way about his career. Granted, he was already a movie star. But he wanted respect. He wanted an Oscar. He appeared to feel snubbed by the Academy when The Truman Show received nominations for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Original Screenplay, but no nomination for him as Best Actor. Like most comedians, Carrey wanted to be taken seriously for his dramatic chops. The Majestic was his bid for respect from Hollywood. Directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), this was a potential cinematic masterpiece.

For seven seconds I was Jim Carrey’s costar. I had been hired, along with 200 other nobodies, to be background extras in the film. It was an exciting overnight shoot at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, complete with full hair and makeup and 1950s wardrobe. Carrey was very serious on set. He never cracked a joke. The Mask and Ace Ventura were things of the past.

The opening sequence involved a long Steadicam shot that followed him from the back of the theater, holding popcorn and sodas, as he walked down the aisle toward a seat in the front. I really wanted to be seen in this epic motion picture. My boyfriend would be so proud of me, and it would make an excellent gift for his birthday in December, when it was to be released. I hit the jackpot when an assistant director placed me in the aisle where the camera would brush right past my shoulder and catch a corner of my face as I followed my lady friend to our seats. I’m sure I was supposed to be her date, but in my mind I was playing her closeted gay best friend who always refused her advances because he was “saving himself for another dame.” That was the backstory I created for my character.

On the first take I started to follow my beard to her seat. But as the camera swooshed by, I took a step back to avoid stepping on her billowing poodle skirt. In that moment of retreat, I could feel my shoulder bumping someone else’s body in the crew — maybe a boom operator or a camera assistant.

CUT!

“Do you know what you just did?” a production assistant snapped at me through clenched teeth. “You bumped into Mr. Carrey! The fucking star of the film! If you can’t handle this, I will send you home and find someone who can!” I profusely apologized and promised I could handle it.

Ten minutes later, Jim Carrey walked up to me, laid his hand on my shoulder and said, “Hey.”

Tags: Commentary

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