Steven Russell, the real-life con man portrayed by Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris, wasn’t able to attend any premiere parties, nor will he be seeing the film when it opens on Friday. But not because he doesn’t like the way Ewan McGregor portrayed his lover.
It’s because he’s locked up.
Russell — whose stranger-than-fictional tale had Morris filmmakers inserting a “This really happened. It really did” slide in the movie’s introduction — is serving a 144-year sentence in Texas, a prison term lengthened because of his previous escape. “This is a guy who is to a certain extent deluded,” Morris co-director John Requa tells the New York Times. “But he has a real gift for making the world conform to the way he sees things.”
And since prisons don’t let R-rated movies behind the razor wire, and gay material is considered contraband, Russell will never be able to see how Hollywood thinks he gives a pounding. Phillip Morris, who now lives in Arkansas and is played by McGregor, liked the film. But: “I try to separate myself from the movie as if I wasn’t one of the characters. They have to romanticize everything because it’s a movie.”