Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: Ace Goes International

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Why Africa?

Oedekerk explains, "Jim had the concept for Africa and that meshed beautifully with my idea of a totally different movie. We didn't want to make the same movie over again with the same setting, the same supporting characters and just a different animal missing." "I've always been fascinated with Africa," says Carrey, "I've always wanted to go there. And it's the quintessential 'Ace place' - where he'd want to be and where he'd probably end up, with all his animal pals. It was a logical step for him, "And I felt strongly that I wanted to go international with the second 'Ace' film," Carrey continues. "Something happened in the first one which was kind of cool; there was a kind of Bondian aspect to Ace, like Agent 007. So I sort of saw the sequel in the vein of a James Bond film."

Adding to the international flavor of the film is the gallery of mostly British actors, many classically trained, in supporting roles. Ian McNeice, who plays Ace's sidekick, Fulton Greenwall, says, "Because Jim is so inventive and so big, my role had to be supportive and as real as possible in order to feed into that. It's the only way this kind of comedy can work. I think this was the key for all the side characters around Jim - to totally believe in what we were doing, to totally believe in the story, and let Jim do his thing as Ace."

Simon Callow portrays British consul Vincent Cadby, who hires Ace and lives to regret it. "I'd seen the first Ace Ventura film, so I had an idea of what to expect from the point of view of Jim's character. My character is basically what you'd call a foil But I thought it would be fun dueling with Jim Carrey, and it was. "As a foil," Callow continues, "it was important that I became absolutely loathsome to the audience. It increased the attractiveness of Ace and the triumph of the good forces - or the forces of mayhem, anyway! After all, that's what Ace really is: the anarchy principle of all comedy. "And Jim gave an enormous amount. He was phenomenally inventive and worked on a very high level of adrenaline, so you kind of jump onto that moving bus."

Maynard Eziashi, as the Chief s son, Ouda, was delighted with the amount of improvisation in the film. "Everyone was constantly working off everyone else. I just couldn't help laughing and ad-libbing because Jim was always throwing out so much to me - and all of it was funny."

"Whenever I prepared a scene with Jim," says Sophie Okonedo, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who plays the Princess, "even though we'd rehearsed, I'd never really know what he was going to do from one take to another. And that made my reactions completely spontaneous."

American actor Bob Gunton, who portrays the eccentric Burton Quinn, owner of Quinnland Safari Park, is best known for his dramatic roles in films, although he's done many comedies with very broad humor in the theatre. "I wanted to do something that was really goofy for a change," explains the actor, "a real knockabout comedy whose sole intention is to amuse people. The thing I love about Jim's character is this infectious joy of life, the sense of making every moment, every encounter, an adventure. And that gave me a tremendous force to react to."

Collaborating With Carrey "The process of directing Jim was as collaborative as possible," says Steve Oedekerk. "We've worked well together as writers over the years, and we worked in the same way with me directing. I was very open to Jim's ideas and he was very open to mine; it was pretty egoless. "We were always trying to make everything better. Even if the stuff seemed great, we'd talk about each scene, asking each other if there were any jokes we missed or if there were ways we could do something physically. We were always looking for a new line or a new beat. "We're both punchline-oriented," adds Oedekerk, "so we'd toss around stuff to come up with the funniest things. Sometimes we laughed so hard that it literally looked like Jim's mouth was going to swallow his body backwards, and I'd have to walk away in a crouched position just so I could get a breath of oxygen. Basically, when we work together, we have fun."

A key decision about the look of the film was made early on when the filmmakers decided to shoot in a wide-screen format. Director of photography Donald E. Thorin explains, "With the film's big action and because Jim Carrey plays so big, wide-screen was a natural choice." Production designer Steven Lineweaver agrees. "But to support that, the visuals had to be very striking, the most exotic, the most intense. So the makeup, the hair, even the huts in the villages had to have a certain extreme quality. It's definitely a world that's a little more incredible than if it were in a documentary.

"We took the best of everything and put together our own tribal looks. The two warring tribes, the peaceful Wachatis and the warlike Wachootoos, were a very simple good-and-evil green foliage, flowers, natural materials. For the warlike Wachootoos and their village, we used l very stark motif, with bones, bark, dust, fires, even evil-looking skull bones for the witch doctor'. headdress."

Recalls Lineweaver, "Jim had more than enough energy to play any set I built. He's high- maintenance; he'd really work the set. So I had to give him things to play with - we brought in food for a party scene and suddenly, the asparagus was up in his mouth like a walrus; or at a tribal banquet, he stuck zucchinis on all of his fingers."

Costume designer Elsa Zamparelli, known for her work on period epics like "Dances With Wolves" and "The Last of the Mohicans," has had a passion for African tribal costumes since childhood. She says, "I decided to draw heavily on the Masai and Sambura tribes, using bits and pieces - clothing, headdresses, necklaces, earrings - that would suit my needs and the director's vision." Zamparelli says that designing clothes for Ace was particularly challenging, because Ace's character had already been established in the first film.

"Although he has a similar look this time, with the trademark Hawaiian shirt, I gave him a little different edge - it's basically a swashbuckler style, with the boots and the easy-fit pants. And nothing really matches," laughs Zamparelli, "but somehow it works because Ace wears the clothes."

Zamparelli especially enjoyed choosing clothing for the opening sequence, which finds Ace on a mountaintop. "I thought, 'Okay, he's mountain-climbing - lederhosen!' Ace in lederhosen is funny. I've been in Switzerland and Austria and people do still wear them, so I figured that would be just the perfect outfit."

Zamparelli continues, "As I expected, when I first mentioned the idea to Jim he wasn't sure, but when he saw them and tried them on, he said, 'Yes, this is Ace, this would be great.' "

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