If you were alive in the 1990s, the chances are you grew up on Jim Carrey films. The actor was a powerful force in comedy, appearing in some of the best films in recent years. We break down some of the most notable moments of his life to date – including love, loss, and betrayal.
Jim Carrey was born in Canada on January 17, 1962. His family is French-Canadian and he grew up in Burlington, Ontario. In 2004, he applied for, and accepted, American citizenship.
A Class Clown
Growing up, Jim Carrey found his lifelong passion in school, where his teachers used to let him perform impressions in front of his classmates. At age 15, his family became broke and he dropped out of school to become a janitor and support his parents.
When Carrey was 10 years old, he wrote a letter to Carol Burnett to tell her he was mastering his impressions. Whereas most impersonators can achieve 10-15 solid impressions, Carrey boasted over 100. Even though he was declined an opportunity to appear on the show, the exchange left him inspired.
Continuing his passion for letter writing, Jim Carrey sustained an unusual friendship in the 1990s: Tupac. While in prison, Carrey would send him letters to keep his spirits high. The two remained close friends until Tupac’s death in 1996.
Carrey was offered his big break by none other than Rodney Dangerfield. The veteran comedian spotted Carrey in Canada. Dangerfield signed him as a support comic on his tour in Las Vegas, providing Carrey the jump his career needed.
1994: The Birth Of An Icon
According to documentary Jim And Andy: The Great Beyond, Jim Carrey visited a psychic who told him he would make three life-changing films in the mid-1990s. Those films, all released in the same year, were immediate critical and financial successes: Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Once Jim Carrey decided to become a movie star, he wrote himself a check for $10 million. He kept it in his wallet for seven years while he worked the comedy circuits around LA and Hollywood. In 1995, soon after his breakout year, he managed to cash it from his earnings on Dumb and Dumber.
After his breakout year, Jim Carrey became unstoppable. He became the first actor ever to earn $20 million for a role in The Cable Guy, and carried his success to more films, such as Liar Liar and The Truman Show. The chances are, if you grew up in the 1990s, you grew up with Jim Carrey in your living room.
And The Award Goes To…
Jim Carrey owned the award shows after he broke into Hollywood. He won two consecutive Golden Globe Awards for Best Lead Actor In A Motion Picture for The Truman Show and Man on the Moon.
Turn To The Dark And Serious
His serious roles reflected a change in personality. According to Carrey, his career shift to more serious films such as Man on The Moon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and The Number 23 reflect a tone in his own life. Director Michel Gondry even described his personality as ‘broken’ and begged him not to get better until after shooting their film.
Andy Kaufman Took Over His Body. Apparently
During the filming of 1999’s Man On The Moon, Jim Carrey became almost impossible to work with. He claims that real-life comic Andy Kaufman inherited his body during filming. It was an intense case of character acting that led to the 2017 documentary Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond.
Like a lot of extrovert comedians, Jim Carrey has battled with severe mood swings and depression over his career. He has always been open about his condition and has admitted to using Prozac to help with his down days.
In 2015, his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White committed suicide after she had falsely accused him of infecting her with STDs two years prior. After her death, her secret husband sued Carrey for introducing her to drugs and a life of substance abuse. The case was settled in early 2018.
Unable To Settle
Much like many comedians, Jim Carrey has been unlucky in love. He has been married twice, to Melissa Worner and his Dumb and Dumber co-star Lauren Holly, and was shortly engaged to Renee Zellweger in 1999, following their roles in Me, Myself, and Irene.
Over the last few years, Jim Carrey has taken a back seat away from Hollywood to focus on more personal projects. He has taken up painting as a form to help express himself and has even mixed it with political commentary. He has been a staunch critic of the Trump administration and has posted many of his works online.
A True Artist
Between 2011-2015, his artwork focussed on more positive images, highlighting the spiritual and positive lifestyle he was attempting to live. For him, painting is another form of escape. From 2016, he focussed his efforts on political criticism – he has targeted Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Paul Ryan.
Return To Hollywood
This year, Jim Carrey will be returning to television with his Showtime show Kidding. The dramedy sees him portraying a kids’ TV show host who faces a personal tragedy. He claims his six-year break from Hollywood was due to its inability to challenge him creatively.