If Universal Pictures was hoping that casting Jim Carrey in the sequel to the cult favorite "Kick-Ass" would bring added publicity to the picture, that's just what they're getting, but not in the way they expected.
"Kick-Ass 2" is due to open in North American theaters on August 16, but Universal has been dealt a major setback in the film's promotional campaign: Carrey, the movie's biggest star, has announced he's withdrawing his support from the picture.
Sunday afternoon, Carrey posted a message on his Twitter account, stating, "I did 'Kickass' a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence."
A follow up tweet read, "My apologies to others involve with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
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In "Kick-Ass 2," Carrey plays the malevolent Colonel Stars & Stripes, one of a handful of self-styled superheroes who have taken law and order into their own hands.
Since last December's shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 27 people (most of them young students), Carrey has been fiercely outspoken on the subject of gun control, tweeting frequently in support of increased legislation of firearms and appearing in a satirical music video for Funny or Die, "Cold Dead Hand," which is critical of gun enthusiasts. The video generated enough controversy that Carrey wrote an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post to explain the video and his views.
A few hours after Carrey posted his tweets, Mark Millar, the award-winning comic book writer who created the "Kick-Ass" characters in 2008 for a Marvel comic series, posted a response on his website.
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"Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I'm baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn't in the screenplay eighteen months ago," he wrote. "'Kick-Ass' avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it's the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation.
"Ironically, Jim's character in 'Kick-Ass 2' is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place."
Millar did stress in his blog post that he's a serious Jim Carrey fan and described the actor's performance as Colonel Stars and Stripes as "magnificent."
Carrey's Twitter followers wasted no time sharing their views on his statements; some supported him, others were sharply critical, many expressed their doubts about the link between violence in entertainment and violence in real life, and at least one (critic Scott Weinberg) pondered, "I wonder if he donated his salary to gun control groups."