Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) was a huge commercial success, making $411.6 million at the box office. However, its sequel, Batman Returns (1992) failed to replicate the success, with many critics remarking that the Burton-directed movie was too dark and laced with violent and spooky tones.
In order to lighten the mood in Gotham City, Joel Schumacher was brought in as Burton’s replacement, and the charming Robin joined hands with Val Kilmer’s Batman. However, the most significant casting in the movie was the 90s king of comedy, Jim Carrey as The Riddler.
Kilmer, Carrey, and Tommy Lee Jones led the revamped Batman tale and Batman Forever (1995) performed well at the box office, earning $336.6 million globally. However, two of the movie’s stars didn’t have the best of times in each other’s company.
Why Batman Forever Star Tommy Lee Jones Insulted Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey started out as a stand-up comedian and an impressionist, who found his breakthrough role in Hollywood in the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994. He rose to stardom with his portrayal of a goofball detective and became one of the most likable stars of the 90s, making him a perfect fit for the Batman franchise which was looking to become more family-friendly.
He played The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones played Harvey Dent (Two-Face), and the duo teamed up to make things difficult for Batman. But it seems behind the scenes the pairing of the serious Jones and goofy Carrey didn’t gel very well.
In an interview with Norm MacDonald Live (via FarOut Magazine), Carrey shed light on the dynamic of their relationship by recalling their meeting in a restaurant. He revealed:
“The maître d’ said, ‘Oh, I hear you’re working with Tommy Lee Jones. He’s over in the corner having dinner.’ I went over, and I said, ‘Hey Tommy, how are you doing?’ and the blood just drained from his face. He got up shaking. He must have been in a mid-kill-me fantasy or something like that. And he went to hug me, and he said, ‘I hate you. I really don’t like you.’ And I said, ‘What’s the problem?’ and pulled up a chair, which probably wasn’t smart. And he said, ‘I cannot sanction your buffoonery.’”
Carrey, however, did insist he admired Jones’ phenomenal acting and added his co-star might have been uncomfortable with the style of the work he had to do in Batman Forever.
What Batman Forever Director Said About the Feud Between Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey
Carrey must’ve rubbed Jones the wrong way, as the latter’s disdain toward the former was so obvious on the set that even director Schumacher took note of it.
Speaking to Vulture, The Lost Boys director shared his thoughts on his behavior and a potential reason behind it.
“[Tommy Lee Jones] was fabulous on The Client. But he was not kind to Jim Carrey when we were making Batman Forever…Tommy is, and I say this with great respect, a scene-stealer. Well, you can’t steal the scene from Jim Carrey. It’s impossible. And I think it irked Tommy.”
In a strange way, Jones’ reaction is a huge credit to Carrey’s acting prowess. Despite being so early in his acting journey, the comic genius outshined such an established actor, who has earned four Oscar nominations to date.