Nationality: Canadian. Born: James Eugene Carrey in Jacksons Point (some sources say Newmarket), Ontario, Canada, 17 January 1962, Family: Married 1) Melissa Womer (an actress), 1986 (divorced, 1995); 2) Lauren Holly (an actress), September 23, 1996 (divorced, 1997); children: (first marriage) Jane. Career: Titan Wheels (factory), Toronto, Ontario, laborer, c. 1978; performed in comedy clubs in Toronto, Canada, 1977–81; moved to Los Angeles to work clubs, 1981; appeared on a television special with Rich Little; played Skip Tarkenton, The Duck Factory TV show, 1984; ensemble member, In Living Color weekly comedy variety television show, 1990; writer, for In Living Color , 1990–94; voice of Exterminator, Itsy Bitsy Spider , USA Network, 1993. Awards: MTV Movie Award, best comedic performance, 1994, for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective; MTV Movie Award, best comedic performance, 1996, for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls; MTV Movie Award, best comedic performance, 1997, for The Cable Guy; Showman of the Year Award, 1998; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor-comedy, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in
All in Good Taste (Kramreither); Copper Mountain (Mitchell) (as Bobby Todd); Introducing . . . Janet ( Rubberface ) (Salzman and Yates) (as Tony Moroni)
Finders Keepers (Lester) (as Lane Biddlecoff)
Once Bitten (Storm) (as Mark Kendall)
Peggy Sue Got Married (Coppola) (as Walter Getz)
The Dead Pool (Van Horn) (as Johnny Squares) (credited as James Carrey)
Pink Cadillac (Van Horn) (as Lounge entertainer) (credited as James Carrey); Earth Girls Are Easy (Temple) (as Wiploc); Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All (Nicolella—for TV) (as Brad Peters)
High Strung (Nygard) (as Death [uncredited])
Doing Time on Maple Drive (Olin—for TV) (as Tim)
Dumb and Dumber (Farrelly) (as Lloyd Christmas); The Mask (Russell) (as Stanley Ipkiss and The Mask); Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Shadyac) (as Ace Ventura, + co-sc)
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (Oedekerk) (as Ace Ventura); Batman Forever , (Schumacher) (as The Riddler/Edward Nygma)
The Cable Guy (Stiller) (as Chip Douglas)
Liar Liar (Shadyac) (as Fletcher Reede)
Simon Birch (Johnson) (as Adult Joe Wentworth); The Truman Show (Weir) (as Truman Burbank)
Man on the Moon (Forman) (as Andy Kaufman)
Me, Myself and Irene (Farrelly and Farrelly) (as Charlie Baileygates and Hank); How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Howard) (as The Grinch)
Corliss, Richard, "World's Only Living Toon," in Time , 8 August 1994.
McGregor, A., "Carrey on Laughing," in Time Out (London), no. 1250, 3 August 1994.
Zarebski, Konrad J., "Nasi najdrozsi," in Kino (Warsaw), vol. 29, no. 333, March 1995.
Schruers, Fred, "Jim Carrey," in Rolling Stone , 13–27 July 1995.
Everschor, Franz, "Jim Carrey: Superstar," in Film Dienst (Cologne), vol. 48, no. 16, 1 August 1995.
Salminen, Kari, "Sopimattomasti somaatinen," in Filmihullu (Helsinki), no. 4–5, 1997.
Grobel, L., "The True Man: Jim Carrey," in Movieline (Escondido), May 1998.
Corliss, Richard, "Smile! Your Life's On TV," in Time , 1 June 1998.
Smith, C., "Do Not Adjust Your Set," in New York Magazine , vol. 31, 1 June 1998.
Maslin, Janet, "Exploring the Outer Limits of an Odd Comedic Universe," in New York Times , 22 December 1999.
Ansen, David, "Man on the Moon," in Newsweek , 16 December 1999.
Schickel, Richard, "A Paean to a Pop Postmodernist," in Time , 31 December 1999.
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Jim Carrey combined the rubber-faced rubber-boned antics of a Jerry Lewis with the zany improvisational style of a Robin Williams (with a heavy dash of Williams's acting ability thrown in) to make some of the most successful and entertaining comedies of the 1990s and to launch him into the superstar stratosphere—Carrey becoming the first actor to break the $20-million-per-film wage barrier.
His beginnings could not have been humbler. His father, a professional musician, sold his saxophone to pay his wife's hospital bills, and at various points the family lived in a Volkswagen camper and in a tent. After years as the resident white guy on television's enormously popular In Living Color , he took on the serious role of a son with a drinking problem in the television movie Doing Time on Maple Street (1992). But what launched him into superstar status were the three comedies he made in 1994: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective , The Mask , and Dumb & Dumber , with a combined global box office draw of $550 million. In Ace Ventura , Carrey cuts loose as the bizarre pet detective designed to make outrageous fun of leading men. In The Mask he plays an average guy given superhuman powers by an ancient Norse mask, and although the (literally) eye-popping special effects based on classic Tex Avery cartoons were supplied by Industrial Light & Magic, as Richard Corliss in Time said "Carrey doesn't need any cybernetics or silicon to rubberize his limbs. He is his own best special effect, the first star who is a live-action toon." Dumb & Dumber was an over-the-top slob comedy in the same vein as the Farrelly brother's subsequent There's Something about Mary . But even in Dumb & Dumber , there's a scene where his character stares out a window and says, "You know what I'm sick and tired of? I'm sick and tired of having to eke my way through life," and the audience really feels for the guy.
After Batman Forever and the Ace Ventura sequel (both 1995), Carrey became the $20 million man with The Cable Guy (1996), where his performance was evidently a little too dark for most audiences. The movie's failure caused Hollywood to question actors' soaring salaries, but not before Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and other superstars demanded higher pay (Carrey has subsequently agreed to work for less). Liar Liar (1997) put Carrey back on top with one of his best performances, as an attorney forced to tell the truth for 24 hours because of a birthday wish his son made. Carrey's performance is reminiscent of Steve Martin's in All of Me , except instead of fighting Lily Tomlin's soul occupying half his body, he's fighting this birthday wish, making the wish seem completely tangible in the process. The movie finds clever variations on a potentially repetitive theme (a la Groundhog Day ), with his backed-into-a-corner lawyer finally forced to win a case by actually using his brain instead of his usual bag of knee-jerk, lawyerly tricks. And Carrey's a good enough actor to make you believe the "I love my son" ending.
The Truman Show (1998) was considered by most to be Carrey's breakthrough performance. In it, he plays Truman Burbank, the unwitting star of a 24-hour-a-day real-life drama unfolding on the world's largest movie set. As an "everyman," Carrey acts without his manic side, in what Corliss called "a performance of profound charm, innocence, vulnerability and pain." Many predicted Carrey would win an Oscar for his performance, but the award eluded him. Similar predictions for an Oscar returned when critics saw Carrey's uncanny performance of Andy Kaufman in Milos Forman's Man on the Moon (1999). Many felt he was again snubbed when Carrey did not win the Oscar. Kaufman, the groundbreaking comedian/performance artist who died in 1984, was one of Carrey's inspirations, and in the film Carrey throws himself into each of Kaufman's diverse personae—the wide-eyed Foreign Man, the sneering wrestler of women, the obnoxious Tony Clifton—with such conviction that those who actually knew Kaufman were completely spooked. Janet Maslin in the New York Times called Carrey's performance "an electrifying homage," while Newsweek claimed, "Jim Carrey may be a better Andy Kaufman than Andy Kaufman was," and Time said it was very possibly the best work Carrey had ever done. Should Academy members ever finally realize that great comedic talent is as rare as great dramatic talent, perhaps Carrey will one day get his due, but in the meantime at least he should be happy with the compensation.