Sad reality behind the facade of a fickle Hollywood paradise
The case against Jim Carrey by the mother of the late Cathriona White, says Sarah Caden, exposes the lie beneath the LA dream
Published 16/10/2016 | 02:30
In a piece published in the Sunday Independent in April, Sarah Molloy described what she was doing when she heard that her sister, Cathriona White, had died by suicide in LA.
Sarah was at home in Australia, singing along to the Josh Thompson song Cold Beer With Your Name On It. The lyrics made her think of her sister, she wrote: "I hear you're out there now and you're doing alright/ A new lease on life in Hollywood…/ Bet the west coast sun looks good on you."
And then, she wrote: "The phone rang and the news came. Cathriona had taken an overdose of pills and was dead."
The song lyrics say a lot about the life Cathriona White had out in LA. We like to think of it always as Hollywood, as if it's all good times, and high rolling, modernist houses with views of the ocean and rubbing shoulders with the stars.
Every picture we've seen of Cathriona White since her death in September 2015 backs up that illusion.
Gleaned mostly from social media - and who ever looks bad or like they're having a bad time on social media? - Cathriona White in photographs is pixie-model pretty and set against a backdrop of the California of our fantasies.
In pictures, the make-up artist always looked like she was living that dream.
And the other photos of Cathriona White, the paparazzi shots of her with her on-off boyfriend actor Jim Carrey, back up the "new lease on life in Hollywood" illusion. Landing a big movie star was proof, surely, if proof was needed that Cathriona White had made it in LA.
After her death, though, a portrait emerged, in words more than images, of Cathriona's life in LA. None of it was what it was cracked up to be, especially, it seems, the role of romantic partner to a big star.
In a handwritten note addressed to Carrey, with whom she had a two-year on-off relationship, White wrote about feeling like "damaged goods", "abandoned and alone".
She said that she was "disrespected, degraded, called a whore, threatened our relationship belittled…"
"People have bad experiences and break-ups," she wrote, "it's hard but with time they move on, meet someone new, start over. Add in disease. How does someone move on? I'm damaged. I'm disgusting."
Cathriona wrote that what she wanted was for Carrey to say: "I gave you this, intentional or not... What can make this right?"
From one angle, the wrongful death case taken by White's mother Brigid Sweetman last week is an effort to make things right.
Court papers state that hers is a case about "Jim Carrey abusing" Cathriona White "and then proceeding to provide Ms White with illegal drugs" that ultimately led to her tragic death.
Carrey's abuse included, but was not limited to, Carrey giving Ms White three STDs [two forms of herpes, as well as gonorrhea] without warning her - lying to her about it, "dumping" her out of concern for saving his own carefully crafted public image, calling her a "whore" and shaming her, and then using his high-priced Hollywood lawyers and "fixers" to intimidate and threaten her in an effort to silence her."
Not nice. Not nice at all. Whether it's true, or whether, as Carrey contests, this follows the case taken by Mark Burton, estranged from Cathriona at the time of her death and described by Carrey's side as her "green card husband".
Burton is taking another wrongful death case and a separate case alleging that Carrey gave Cathriona the drugs used in her fatal overdose, which he had obtained illegally under a false name. Further, it is alleged that Carrey left a message for Cathriona after her death, attempting to make out that he had just discovered that they were missing and wondering if she had taken them from his house.
Carrey has described Burton's case as a "heartless attempt to exploit me and the woman I loved", adding that "Cat's troubles were born long before I met her."
The actor has also said that he's defending this case because sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.
Which is interesting, given that one of the charges being made against him is that he tried to distance himself from Cathriona once she realised she had the STDs, and also that he tried to force her to keep quiet that he had given them to her.
That, it is being suggested, was the real reason for the pair's ultimate break-up: that Carrey sacrificed Cathriona for his movie star reputation. And she was destroyed by it.
Along with the case taken by Brigid Sweetman last week came publication of transcripts and screenshots of text messages between Cathriona White and Jim Carrey.
And they were as mundane and embarrassing and random as any you'd read - and not at all sophisticated or like a smooth script for the big screen.
Much was made of one exchange, in which the pair talk about their dear departed - his parents and her late father - and a Christmas candle they had bought and she was burning for them.
Both describe the heartwarming effect of the gesture, then she texts him some heart emojis and then he replies: "Have you thought about my c**k today?" This question was reported last week as sort of proof of Carrey's detached heartlessness, and while it was a text that caused a sensation, his cutting-off of Cathriona made for sadder reading.
These texts included her pre-diagnosis concerns about what was wrong with her body, and his apparent dismissal of these concerns.
Then, post-diagnosis, he suggests she picked up the STDs from someone other than him and she begins to seem to resist legal measures to prevent her talking about the situation.
Ultimately, he cuts her off and she despairs.
One text from Carrey says: "K. Don't want to talk anymore. Deal with linda. Im done. You have become too much drama."
He doesn't come off well, but does anyone in a text, does any relationship end nicely? And, as Carrey seems to suggest since, would this count if he wasn't famous?
When Sarah Molloy wrote in April about her sister's death, she was most concerned by how little Cathriona mattered in it.
What mattered, it seemed, what gave her status, was connection to a movie star.
No doubt Brigid Sweetman would say that her lawsuit makes Cathriona important again, but so far it is only an additional sad chapter in the LA illusion.