James Eugene "Jim" Carrey (born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian American actor, comedian, and producer. Carrey has received four Golden Globe Award nominations, winning two. Known for his highly energetic slapstick performances, he has been described as one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood.
Carrey first gained recognition in 1990 after landing a recurring role in the sketch comedy In Living Color. His first leading roles in major productions came with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), The Mask (1994), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995). In 1997, he gave a critically acclaimed performance in Liar Liar, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. He then starred in The Truman Show (1998) and Man on the Moon (1999), with each garnering him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
In 2000, he gained further recognition for his portrayal of the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and then, in 2003, for Bruce Almighty. The following year he starred in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), for which he received another Golden Globe nomination in addition to a BAFTA Award nomination. He then starred in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), Yes Man (2008) and A Christmas Carol (2009). More recently, he has starred in Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013).
In 2013, he appeared in Kick-Ass 2 as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Controversially, he retracted support for the movie two months prior to its release. He issued a statement via his Twitter account that, in light of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, "Now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence."
Carrey agreed to reprise his role as Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber To, which was produced in late 2013 and is scheduled for a November 2014 release.
James Eugene Carrey was born in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, to Kathleen (née Oram), a homemaker, and Percy Carrey (1927-1994), a musician and accountant. He has three older siblings, John, Patricia, and Rita. He was raised Roman Catholic. His mother was of French, Irish, and Scottish descent and his father had French ancestry (the family's original surname was Carré).
During an interview with James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio, Carrey stated,
My father was a musician who got a "regular job" to support his children. When he lost his job that's when everything fell apart. We went from "lower middle class" to "poor". We were living out of a van. I quit school at age 15 to begin working to help support my family as a janitor. I'd have a baseball bat on my janitor cart because I was so angry I just wanted to beat the heck out of something.
After his family moved to Scarborough, Ontario he attended Blessed Trinity Catholic School, in North York, for two years, enrolled at Agincourt Collegiate Institute for another year, then briefly attended Northview Heights Secondary School. Carrey never finished high school because he worked full-time to help his family survive their economic hardship, and also helped care for his mother who battled a severe, chronic illness.
Carrey lived in Burlington Ontario, for eight years, and attended Aldershot High School, where he once opened for 1980s new wave band Spoons. In a Hamilton Spectator interview (February 2007), Carrey said, "If my career in show business hadn't panned out I would probably be working today in Hamilton, Ontario at the Dofasco steel mill." When looking across the Burlington Bay toward Hamilton, he could see the mills and thought, "Those were where the great jobs were." At this point, he already had experience working in a science testing facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
While Carrey was struggling to obtain work and make a name for himself, his father tried to help the young comedian put together a stage act, driving him to Toronto to debut at comedy club Yuk Yuk's. Carrey's impersonations bombed and this gave him doubts about his capabilities as a professional entertainer. His family's financial struggles made it difficult for them to support Carrey's ambitions. Eventually, the family's financial problems were resolved and they moved into a new home. With more domestic stability, Carrey returned to the stage with a more polished act. In a short period of time, he went from open-mic nights to regular paid shows, building his reputation in the process. A reviewer in the Toronto Star raved that Carrey was "a genuine star coming to life". Carrey was soon noticed by comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who signed the young comic to open his tour performances. Dangerfield eventually brought Carrey to Las Vegas. Carrey soon decided to move to Hollywood, where he began performing at The Comedy Store and, in 1982, appeared on the televised stand-up show An Evening at the Improv. The following year, he debuted his act on The Tonight Show.
Despite his increasing popularity as a stand-up comic, Carrey turned his attention to the film and television industries, auditioning to be a cast member for the 1980-1981 season of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Carrey was not selected for the position, although he did host the show in May 1996, and again in January 2011. He was cast in several low-budget films, including Rubberface (1981), in which he played a struggling young comic, and Copper Mountain (1983), in which he played a sex-starved teen. The latter film included his impersonation of Sammy Davis, Jr., and was not considered a full-length feature film since it ran less than one hour and consisted largely of musical performances by Rita Coolidge and Ronnie Hawkins.
In 1984, Carrey was cast as the lead in the NBC sitcom The Duck Factory, where he played a quirky young artist alongside Jay Tarses. However, the show was cancelled during its first season. Despite the cancellation, the show helped Carrey land roles in several films: Once Bitten (1985), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), The Dead Pool (1988), and Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992). When Carrey returned to stand-up, he retired his old act, vowing that he didn't want to be famous for imitating other people. "Some nights it was a melee, literally, where I'd be standing trying to defend myself for what I was doing. People would be screaming at me to do my old act, and getting actually violent and angry at me." While many thought he was ill-advised to retire his old act, others were increasingly interested in what Carrey was attempting to do. One of these people was writer/director Judd Apatow. The pair struck up a friendship and began writing material together.
Carrey continued to land small roles in film and television productions, which led to a friendship with fellow comedian Damon Wayans, who co-starred with Carrey as an extraterrestrial in 1989's Earth Girls Are Easy. Damon introduced Carrey to his brother Keenen, who was creating a sketch comedy show called In Living Color for the new Fox network. Carrey eventually landed a recurring role in the show which first aired on April 15, 1990. By the third season, Carrey was one of the few remaining original cast members and was ready to move on to bigger things, after agreeing to take on his first lead role in a major Hollywood film.
Rise to fame:
Carrey did not experience true stardom until he was cast in the lead role of the slapstick comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), which premiered only months before In Living Color ended. Though he agreed to play the title character, Carrey was willing to take the role only if he was allowed to rewrite the script to suit his over-the-top visions. The film, while dismissed by most critics, was an international hit, and transformed Carrey into a bankable box-office star.
That same year, Carrey landed lead roles in The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. The Mask garnered him his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor nomination, with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praising him for his "joyful performance". Well received by critics, Dumb and Dumber was a commercial success, grossing over $270 million worldwide, and again increasing Carrey's fanbase.
In 1995, Carrey co-starred in the Joel Schumacher-directed superhero film Batman Forever, in which Batman tries to stop Two-Face and the Riddler (played by Carrey) in their villainous scheme to drain information from all the brains in Gotham City. The feature received reasonable reviews, with most criticism aimed at the movie's "blatant commercialism", as characterized by Peter Travers. In that same year, Carrey reprised his role as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Like the original film, it was well received by the public, but heavily criticised by critics. However, it was a huge box-office success, earning $212 million worldwide in addition to breaking records, with a $40 million opening weekend. Carrey earned $20 million for his next film, The Cable Guy (1996). Directed by Ben Stiller, Carrey played a lonely, slightly menacing cable TV installer who infiltrates the life of one of his customers (played by Matthew Broderick). The film tested Carrey's boundaries of his tried and true "hapless, hyper, overconfident" characters that he is known for regularly playing. However, it did not fare well with critics, many reacting towards Carrey's change of tone to previous films. Despite the reviews, The Cable Guy grossed $102 million worldwide.
He soon bounced back in 1997 with the critically acclaimed comedy Liar Liar, playing Fletcher Reede, a successful lawyer who has built his career on lying, regularly breaking promises that he makes to his son Max. Max soon makes a birthday wish that for just that one day, his dad would not be able to lie. Carrey was praised for his performance, earning a second Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "Well into his tumultuous career, Mr. Carrey finally turns up in a straightforward comic vehicle, and the results are much wilder and funnier than this mundane material should have allowed."
The following year he decided to take a pay cut to play the serious role of Truman Burbank in the satirical comedy-drama film The Truman Show (1998). The film was highly praised and brought Carrey further international acclaim, leading many to believe he would be nominated for an Oscar. Eventually, he did pick up his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. The Truman Show was a commercial success also, earning $264 million worldwide against a budget of $60 million. A Film4 critic stated that the film "allows Carrey to edge away from broad comedy", adding that it was "a hilarious and breathtakingly conceived satire". That same year, Carrey appeared as a fictionalized version of himself on the final episode of Garry Shandling's The Larry Sanders Show, in which he deliberately ripped into Shandling's character. In 1999, Carrey had the lead role in Man on the Moon. He portrayed comedian Andy Kaufman to critical acclaim, with many believing that Carrey would finally be nominated for Best Actor. He received his second Golden Globe Award for the second consecutive year. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote of Carrey's performance, "A brilliant, almost terrifying impersonation."
In 2000, Carrey reteamed with the Farrelly Brothers, who had directed him in Dumb and Dumber, in the comedy film Me, Myself & Irene, a film that received mixed reviews but enjoyed box office success. Carrey played the role of state trooper Charlie Baileygates, who has multiple personalities and romances a woman portrayed by Renée Zellweger. That same year, Carrey starred in the second highest grossing Christmas film of all time, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, playing the title character, for which he received both praise and criticism. The film garnered him his third Golden Globe Award nomination in addition to countless other nominations and several wins.
For his next feature film, Carrey starred opposite Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman in Tom Shadyac's international hit comedy Bruce Almighty (2003). Carrey played a TV newsman who unexpectedly receives God's omnipotent abilities when the deity decides to take a vacation. The film received mixed reviews upon release but despite this was a financial success, earning over $484 million worldwide, and going on to become the seventeenth highest-grossing live action comedy of all time. The film has since gained a cult following. In 2004, Carrey starred in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film received overwhelming acclaim upon release. Critics highly praised Carrey's portrayal of Joel Barish, in addition to the performance of his co-star Kate Winslet, who received an Oscar nomination. According to CNN's reviewer Paul Clinton, Carrey's performance was the actor's "best, most mature and sharply focused performance ever." He received his fourth Golden Globe Award nomination, and was also nominated for his first BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Carrey's next appearance was in the 2004 black comedy drama film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was based on the popular children's novels of the same name. The film received a positive reception, with Desson Thomson from The Washington Post saying of Carrey's approach to the character of Count Olaf,
Olaf is a humorless villain in the book. He's not amusing like Carrey at all. To which I would counter: If you can't let Carrey be Carrey, put someone boring and less expensive in the role. In his various disguises he's rubbery, inventive and improvisationally inspired. I particularly liked his passing imitation of a dinosaur.
That same year, Carrey was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame. In 2005, Carrey starred in a remake of Fun with Dick and Jane, playing Dick, a husband who becomes a bank robber after he loses his job. The film was dismissed by most critics but became a box office hit.
In 2007, Carrey reunited with Joel Schumacher, director of Batman Forever, for The Number 23, a psychological thriller co-starring Virginia Madsen and Danny Huston. In the film, Carrey plays a man who becomes obsessed with the number 23, after finding a book about a man with the same obsession. The film was panned by critics and did not fare well at the box office. The following year Carrey provided his voice for Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008). Carrey voiced the beloved elephant for the CGI-animated feature, which received overwhelmingly positive reviews and delivered family crowds en masse. The film was also a box office success, raking in over $290 million worldwide. Later in the year, Carrey returned to live action comedy, starring opposite Zooey Deschanel and Bradley Cooper in Yes Man (2008). Carrey played down-and-out man, Carl Allen, who had gone nowhere in life, thanks to always saying no to everything, until he signs up for a self-help program that teaches him the power of saying yes. Despite reviews being mixed, Rene Rodriquez of The Miami Herald stated, "Yes Man is fine as far as Jim Carrey comedies go, but it's even better as a love story that just happens to make you laugh." The film had a decent performance at the box office, earning $225 million worldwide.
Since 2009, Carrey's work has included a leading role in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's I Love You Phillip Morris, premiering in January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival before receiving a wide release in February 2010. Carrey portrayed Steven Jay Russell, a con artist, imposter, and multiple prison escapee who falls in love with his fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (played by Ewan McGregor). The film received largely positive reviews, with Damon Wise of The Times giving the film four stars out of five, stating, "I Love You Phillip Morris is an extraordinary film that serves as a reminder of just how good Carrey can be when he's not tied into a generic Hollywood crowd-pleaser. His comic timing remains as exquisite as ever."
For the first time in his career, Carrey portrayed multiple characters in Disney's 3D animated take on the classic Charles Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol (2009), voicing Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film also starred Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and Cary Elwes. The film received reasonable reviews and was a financial success. In 2011, Carrey landed the lead role in Mr. Popper's Penguins, playing Thomas "Tom" Popper Jr. a realtor who becomes the caretaker of a family of penguins. The film received a mixed reception upon release. In 2013 he starred alongside former co-star Steve Carell in the Don Scardino-directed comedy film Burt Wonderstone (2013). Carrey played Steve Gray, a dangerous street magician who overshadows the formerly successful magician Burt Wonderstone (played by Carell). The film was released in March 2013 to mixed reviews and under performed significantly at the box office, grossing just over $27 million on a $30 million budget.
Peter Farrelly said in April 2012 that Carrey and Jeff Daniels would return for a Dumb and Dumber sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, with the Farrelly brothers writing and directing and a planned September 2012 production start. In June, however, Carrey's representative said Carrey had left the project because the comedian felt New Line and Warner Bros. were unenthusiastic toward it. However, on October 1, 2012, Yahoo!'s "The Yo Show" carried the news item that the script was complete and that the original actors, Carrey and Daniels, would, in fact, be reprising their roles and that part of the plot will involve one of the characters having sired a child and needing to find the child in order to obtain a kidney. In March 2013, Carrey stated that he and Daniels were excited about doing the film, and were hoping to do so in 2014.
In March 2013, Carrey announced that he had written a children's book titled How Roland Rolls, about a scared wave named Roland. He described it as "kind of a metaphysical children's story, which deals with a lot of heavy stuff in a really childish way." Carrey self-published the book, which was released in September 2013.
On March 25, 2013, Carrey released a parody music video with Eels through Funny or Die, with Carrey replacing Mark Oliver Everett on vocals. The song and video, titled "Cold Dead Hand" and set as a musical act during the variety program Hee Haw, lampoons American gun culture, and specifically former NRA spokesperson Charlton Heston.
In May 2014 Carrey delivered the commencement address at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, and received an honorary doctorate for his achievements as a comedian, artist, author, and philanthropist.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder:
Carrey has ADHD and has also stated that he has battled depression. To deal with his depression, Carrey took Prozac, eventually deciding to get off medications. He has stated that he no longer takes medications or stimulants of any kind, not even coffee.
Carrey has been married twice. His first marriage was to former actress and Comedy Store waitress Melissa Womer, whom he married on March 28, 1987. Their daughter Jane Erin Carrey was born September 6, 1987. Jane was a 2012 contestant on American Idol. The two divorced in 1995. A year later Carrey married his Dumb and Dumber co-star Lauren Holly, on September 23, 1996; the marriage lasted less than a year. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Carrey was involved in a series of relationships, including Laurie Holden, January Jones, and Anine Bing. In addition, Carrey had a much-publicized yet short-lived romance with his Me, Myself and Irene co-star Renée Zellweger, whom he dated, and at one point was engaged to from 1999 to 2000.
Carrey met model and actress Jenny McCarthy in 2005 and made their relationship public in June 2006. In April 2010, the two ended their near five-year relationship. Despite the split and media circulations, McCarthy stated in October 2010 that, "Jim and I are still good friends".
Carrey received U.S. citizenship in October 2004 and remains a dual citizen of both the United States and his native Canada.
Carrey has been a critic of the scientific consensus that no evidence links the childhood MMR vaccination to the development of autism, and wrote an article questioning the merits of vaccination and vaccine research for the Huffington Post. With former partner Jenny McCarthy, Carrey led a "Green Our Vaccines" march in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the removal of toxins from children's vaccines, out of a belief that children had received "too many vaccines, too soon, many of which are toxic."
Carrey is a follower and an advocate for the law of attraction. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1997, Carrey revealed that as a struggling actor he would use visualization techniques to get work. He also stated that he visualized a $10,000,000 check given to him for "Acting services rendered", placed the check in his pocket, and seven years later received a check for $10,000,000 for his role in Dumb and Dumber.
The Sex and Violence Family Hour (1983),
Copper Mountain (1983),
All in Good Taste (1983),
Finders Keepers (1984),
Once Bitten (1985),
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986),
The Dead Pool (1988),
Earth Girls Are Easy (1989),
Pink Cadillac (1989),
High Strung (1991),
The Itsy Bitsy Spider (1992),
Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992),
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994),
The Mask (1994),
Dumb and Dumber (1994),
Batman Forever (1995),
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995),
The Cable Guy (1996),
Liar Liar (1997),
The Truman Show (1998),
Simon Birch (1998),
Man on the Moon (1999),
Me, Myself & Irene (2000),
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000),
The Majestic (2001),
Pecan Pie (2003),
Bruce Almighty (2003),
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004),
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004),
Fun with Dick and Jane (2005),
The Number 23 (2007),
Horton Hears a Who! (2008),
Yes Man (2008),
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009),
A Christmas Carol (2009),
Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011),
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013),
Kick-Ass 2 (2013),
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013),
Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license