JIM CARREY as Steve Gray in New Line Cinema’s comedy “THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:22AM
LAS VEGAS — There is nothing Jim Carrey likes better than a great show business rumor.
“The craziest rumor I ever heard about me was that I had an iguana and in the rider to my contract on every film, I would insist on a special clause saying the production had to hire a separate chef … for the iguana.”
It begs the question: Was this true? Or sorta true?
The man with the most flexible face in Hollywood sits in his hotel suite flashing that wide smile.
“I did have the iguana,” Carrey confesses. “I didn’t specifically ask for the chef.”
What’s certain is that he’s back in the land of private chefs, lavish suites and his name over the title in big films. After a bit of a lull where he communed with penguins and found his inner Scrooge, Carrey moves into his second act in 2013.
Called “one of the funniest people on the planet” by Steve Carell, his co-star in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” Carrey continues with his esoteric musings on Twitter and this summer stars in “Kick-Ass 2.”
But first comes “Wonderstone,” opening Friday. The magician in the title (Steve Carell) finds his fame stolen by a long-haired, shirtless, anything-for-the-illusion superstar named Steve Gray.
That’s Carrey, in six-pack, GQ shape.
“I’ve never taken off my shirt in a movie before. I figured that was Matthew McConaughey’s thing,” he confesses. “Now I’m doing it, and the diet required to do it is not a natural place to live in.
“It’s also not natural to live in that kind of shape. Sure, it looks great on screen. It’s fantastic and it gets you a lot of attention. But the truth is you have to eat anti-matter to be in that shape, and that’s not a happy place to be in.”
He lifts up his shirt to reveal the smallest cushion around his midsection.
“As you can see, I’m back now,” he says, patting his stomach.
“I got Mr. Cuddly back,” he adds in a whisper.
The role of a magic man appealed to him in the best way. “I don’t sleep. I think about things. A lot,” he says. “This character gave me plenty of sleepless nights because I could do a lot of thinking about him.”
Filming in Vegas also stirred memories of his stand-up days, where he actually played the Strip as Rodney Dangerfield’s handpicked opening act.
“To see my name up on a big sign was such a thrill for somebody just starting out,” he recalls. “I used to just stand under the sign and think, ‘Wow, I’m really here.’ ”
He says he had a “shift in personality” back then.
“I got this spiked haircut and started imitating vacuum cleaners and cockroaches on stage. I completely lost the audience, which is something I do from time to time,” he says.
“Rodney used to stand backstage and howl with laughter. When I would get off, he would say, ‘Man, they’re looking at you like you’re from another f---ing planet.’ The maitre’d would pull me aside and say, ‘I hope you don’t plan on getting asked back doing an act like that one.’
“Then Redd Foxx and I got high,” he says, summing up the early days.
His life now revolves around family. At age 51, Carrey is gramps to his daughter Jane’s 3-year-old son.
“It’s so much love I can’t even describe it,” he says of the baby. “You have this daughter you just adore and then this whole other person comes into the world and your love just expands in ways you don’t even think is possible.
“It’s just this ripple effect of love.”
He has also survived the many ripples in a show biz career.
“This life is a roller coaster ride for sure,” he says. “There are so many highs.
“I find myself working with great people like in these two upcoming movies and there are moments when I say, ‘I can’t believe how insanely lucky I am.’
“In the next moment, I’m so completely caught up in my own desiring and feeling like I’m missing something that it hurts.”
He shakes his head.
“In this life, the higher the highs, the lower the lows,” he says.
Being in Las Vegas for interviews appears to be having a profound effect. For almost an hour, Carrey never takes off his sunglasses.
He’s also been having the strangest dreams — and they don’t involve iguanas.
“Last night, I dreamt that I was shrunk down to the size of an insect and swallowed by a hungry giant,” Carrey says in a breathless voice. “By the time I got to his lower intestine, I was no longer anything I could recognize.”
“Then I woke up at the cashier’s window at Bally’s begging for another line of credit.”
He leans in to whisper, “Maybe it was the Ambien. Still, if you could just loan me 500 bucks, I’d really appreciate it.
“I’m getting really hot in this town,” he says, laughing.
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