James Eugene Carrey (originally Carré) (born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian/American film actor, comedian, writer and producer who was born and grew up in the Toronto suburb of Newmarket, Ontario. He is best known for his manic, slapstick performances in comedy films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Liar Liar (1997), and Bruce Almighty (2003). Many attribute some of Carrey's extraordinary abilities to his being affected by bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression. A native of Canada, Carrey became a (dual) U.S. citizen on October 7, 2004.
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Starting in comedy
A comedian from an early age, Carrey mailed his résumé to The Carol Burnett Show when he was 10 years old. The teachers in Carrey's high school gave him a few minutes at the end of each school day to do a stand-up routine for his classmates.
The Carrey family fell on hard times and were forced to move to the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, where they took security and janitorial jobs in the Titan Wheels factory. Carrey began working eight-hour shifts each day after school. Eventually, the Carrey family adjusted by living on a relative's lawn out of the family Volkswagen van until they could move back into town.
Carrey dropped out of high school, and began to work in comedy clubs and to develop his act, which included impersonations of celebrities such as Michael Landon and James Stewart. In 1979, he moved to Los Angeles and started working in The Comedy Store, where he was noticed by comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield liked Carrey's act so much that he signed Carrey up to open Dangerfield's tour performances.
In Living Color
Carrey began to work occasionally in television and in small parts in movies, which eventually led to a friendship with Damon Wayans. Wayans' brother Keenen Ivory Wayans was in the process of putting together a sketch comedy show for Fox called In Living Color, and hired Carrey to be a cast member. The only white male performer on the show, Carrey's unusual characters and on-screen behavior caught America's attention. For the start of his career, the press constantly referred to him simply as "the white guy from In Living Color".
Jim Carrey's success on In Living Color led to a starring role in the comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) which premiered only months before In Living Color ended. The film was panned by the critics but it became a surprise hit. Two other successful releases that same year, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber, the latter of which earned him seven million dollars, quickly established Jim Carrey as a movie star. The following year Jim Carrey appeared as The Riddler in Batman Forever and reprised his role as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Both films were successful and earned Carrey two more multi-million dollar paychecks. Carrey made headlines when it was revealed that for his next film, The Cable Guy, he was paid twenty million dollars, a record payday for a comedic actor. The attention drawn to his salary, coupled with negative reviews and the character's dark mood in contrast to his other performances, all contributed to the film's box office failure. Jim Carrey quickly rebounded with the successful Liar Liar (1997), a return to his trademark style.
Despite the regular comedy successes, Jim Carrey took a chance and a slight paycut to star in The Truman Show (1998), an emotional change of pace that earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama. Many forecasted an Academy Award nomination as well but it did not happen, leading Jim Carrey to appear on the show and joke "it's an honor just to be nominated...oh no."
In 1999 Carrey fought hard for the role of comedian Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. There were quite a few actors fighting for the role, including Edward Norton, but director Milos Forman and the other filmmakers knew Carrey was their "Andy" when they saw his audition. Carrey performed for them as Kaufman with Kaufman's actual bongo drums. He earned another Golden Globe, this time for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, but was again passed over for any Oscar nomination. Coincidently, Carrey was born 13 years to the day after Kaufman.
Jim Carrey continues to appear in successful comedies as well as more dramatic roles. His performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) earned high praise from critics, who once again incorrectly predicted that Carrey would receive his long-awaited first Oscar nomination. Also in 2004, it was reported that Carrey had been signed to play the title role in a comedic film version of the television series The Six Million Dollar Man. Jim Carrey is also the voice of several cartoon characters, electronic games and toys.
- The Duck Factory (1983 series)
- Once Bitten (1985)
- Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
- The Dead Pool (1988)
- Earth Girls are Easy (1989)
- Pink Cadillac (1989)
- In Living Color (1990 series)
- Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992, TV)
- 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)
- Man on the Moon (1999)
- Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
- Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
- The Majestic (2001)
- Bruce Almighty (2003)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)