Even hearing the name Joel Schumacher is still enough to send a shiver down the spines of Batman fans. After Tim Burton had established a noir-inspired Gothic aesthetic during his time at the helm of the franchise, Schumacher came onboard and threw it all out of the window, with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin seemingly taking their inspiration more from Adam West’s camp 1960’s TV show than the previous two installments in the big screen series.
George Clooney might take a lot of the credit for effectively killing the franchise for almost a decade until Christopher Nolan came along and essentially reinvented the entire comic book genre with Batman Begins, but a great deal of the blame also lands at Schumacher’s feet for the neon and nipples extravaganzas that turned the Dark Knight into a big screen laughing stock.
The filmmaker recently gave a wide-ranging interview that included plenty of discussion about his time working on the Batman franchise, and when the subject turned onto the reportedly difficult working relationship between Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey on Batman Forever, Schumacher admitted that the two biggest names in the cast didn’t have the greatest time together.
“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. No, he was not kind to Jim. He did not act towards Jim the way an Oscar winner with a star on Hollywood Boulevard, being the oldest member of the cast, and having such a distinguished career and the accolades to go with it, should have acted towards Jim. But what happens on the set stays on the set.”
Carrey has previously addressed the issues between the two when shooting the superhero sequel, and Jones made his feelings known in exactly the way you would expect the famously-curmudgeonly star of The Fugitive and Men in Black to do so:
“I went up to say hi and the blood drained from his face in such a way that I realized I had become the face of his pain or something. And he got kind of shaking and hugged me and said, ‘I hate you. I really don’t like you.’ and I was like, ‘Wow, okay, what’s going on, man?’. And he said, ‘I cannot sanction your buffoonery.'”
For what it’s worth, both actors are equally guilty of dialing their performances in Batman Forever up to way past ten, but the overall tone of the movie just seemed like a more natural fit for Carrey’s established onscreen persona. Perhaps Jones was jealous of Carrey’s status as Hollywood’s fastest rising star at the time and growing reputation as a box office draw, or maybe he just didn’t like the actor at all. Either way, none of this would have happened if they’d let all-round good guy Billy Dee Williams reprise the role of Harvey Dent like he’d wanted to.