By Amy Longsdorf
Updated March 16, 2004 03:01 PM

Even with the help of a mind-erasing machine, it’s tough to imagine anyone forgetting Jim Carrey. The prolific funnyman, who has bounded across the big screen in both comedies (Dumb and Dumber) and dramas (The Truman Show,) is back once again, this time in the memory-loss romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Carrey, 42, plays a man who wants to erase the bad memories of his girlfriend. In real life, Carrey has had his own share of public breakups (including a divorce from actress Lauren Holly), and he recently chatted with reporters about love, loss and making the best of it.

People are making a distinction between the goofy Jim Carrey and the dramatic Jim Carrey.
It’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation, let’s face it.

When you pick movies to work on, do you think much about whether they are comedies or dramas?
No, they come as they come, and when something like this comes by, you just jump on and that’s all there is to it.

The idea of erasing someone from your brain is rather appealing, isn’t it?
Of course, especially when you’re going through something and you think, I don’t need this. But in retrospect, it always seems to work out that you can look back on something that was a disaster and find some gems in there.

How’d you get involved with Sunshine?
I don’t remember, honestly. It’s one of those things where you sit back and read the script and I had this guilty feeling of, How did I get this one and The Truman Show, man? Great.

What was it like playing opposite a three-time Oscar nominee, Kate Winslet?
Well, I get excited when the people that I work with scare me. I mean, she’s just scary talented and an amazing actress, but I get excited when I’m going to be surrounded by people who make me better and make me stay on my game and challenge me.

Do you have any favorite romantic scenes?
Just in my life. I mean, movies are great, but I think that the real romance happens kind of like right here. Either you are the one erasing or you are the one being erased.

Was it hard to get into the emotions for the part?
Part of the aspect of doing this role is that you have to open up old wounds. But when (the film) was all put together, it became like a love letter. So, I was saved from myself. It was a love letter to everyone that I’ve loved.

We heard something special happened on the set with a bike. What’s the story?
When I was in the second grade, I had a teacher who said, “If you pray to the Virgin Mary, she gives anything that you want.” So I prayed for a Mustang bike, and two weeks later, I won a green Mustang bike in a raffle that I didn’t even enter. A friend of mine put my name on an entry. And then that same kind of Mustang bike showed up in the movie without me ever mentioning it to the filmmakers. I was so excited because this is just how my life is.

Do you still have that bike?
No, I don’t. I have a Harley – that I prayed for. (Laughs)

Can you talk a little about your upcoming role in the Lemony Snicket kids’ movie, A Series of Unfortunate Events?
Oh man, it’s so much fun and such a different way to tell a children’s story. It’s very original, and it’s an opportunity for me to show up as this crazed thespian (Count Olaf). He’s an evil thespian, which is redundant, really.

You’re also going to work on The Six Million Dollar Man. Do you have anything in common with him?
I am bionic. … (But) you know, $6 million doesn’t get you a lot in this world these days. So, you can kind of imagine where the plot is going to go.