The youngest of four children born to Percy (an accountant and aspiring jazz saxophonist) and Kathleen, Jim
Carrey was an incurable extrovert from day one. As a child he performed constantly, for anyone who would watch, and even mailed
his résumé to "Carol Burnett Show, The" (1967) at age 10. In junior high he was granted a few precious minutes at the end of each school day to do stand-up routines for
his classmates (provided, of course, that he kept a lid on it the rest of the day). Carrey's early adolescence took a turn
for the tragic, however, when the family was forced to relocate from their cozy town of Newmarket to Scarborough (a Toronto
suburb). They all took security and janitorial jobs in the Titan Wheels factory, Jim working 8-hour shifts after school let
out (not surprisingly, his grades and morale both suffered). When they finally deserted the factory, the family lived out
of a Volkswagen camper van until they could return to Toronto.
Back on firmer ground, Carrey decided to strike out
into the comedy club scene. He made his (reportedly awful) professional stand-up debut at Yuk-Yuk's, one of the many local clubs that would serve as his training ground in the years to come. He dropped out of
high school, worked on his celebrity impersonations (among them Michael Landon and James Stewart), and in 1979 worked up the nerve to move to Los Angeles.
He finessed his way into a regular gig at The Comedy Store,
where he impressed Rodney Dangerfield so much that the veteran comic signed him as an opening act for an entire season. During this period Carrey met and married
waitress Melissa Womer, with whom he had a daughter (Jane). The couple would later go through a very messy divorce, freeing
Carrey up for a brief second marriage to actress Lauren Holly.
Wary of falling into the lounge act lifestyle, Carrey began to look around for other performance outlets. He landed
a part as a novice cartoonist in the short-lived sitcom "Duck Factory, The" (1984); while the show fell flat, the experience gave Carrey the confidence to pursue acting more vigorously. He scored the male
lead in the ill-received Lauren Hutton vehicle Once Bitten (1985)
, and a supporting role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
, before making a modest splash with his appearance as the alien Wiploc in _Earth Girls Are Easy (1989)
_ . Impressed with Carrey's lunacy, fellow extraterrestrial Damon Wayans made a call to his brother, Keenen Ivory Wayans, who was in the process of putting together the sketch comedy show "In Living Color" (1990).
Carrey joined the cast and quickly made a name for himself with outrageous acts (one of his most popular
characters, psychotic Fire Marshall Bill, was attacked by watchdog groups for dispensing ill-advised safety tips).
transformation from TV goofball to marquis headliner happened within the course of a single year. He opened 1994 with a starring
turn in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
, a film that cashed in on his extremely physical brand of humor (the character's trademark was talking out
his derrière). Next up was the manic superhero movie Mask, The (1994),
which had audiences wondering just how far Carrey's features could stretch. Finally, in December, he
hit theaters as a loveable dolt in the Farrelly brothers' Dumb & Dumber (1994) (his first multi-million dollar payday).
Now a box-office staple, Carrey brought his manic antics onto the set of Batman Forever (1995),
replacing Robin Williams as The Riddler. He also filmed the follow-up to his breakthrough, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995), and inked a deal with Sony to star in Cable Guy, The (1996) (replacing Chris Farley) for a cool $20 million--at the time, that was the biggest up-front sum that had been offered to any comic actor. The movie
turned out to be a disappointment, both critically and financially, but Carrey bounced back the next year with the energetic
hit Liar Liar (1997).
Worried that his comic shtick would soon wear thin, Carrey decided to change course. In 1998, he traded
in the megabucks and silly grins to star in Peter Weir's Truman Show, The (1998). Playing a naive salesman who discovers that his entire life is the subject of a TV show, Carrey demonstrated an uncharacteristic
sincerity that took moviegoers by surprise. He won a Golden Globe for the performance, and fans anticipated an Oscar nomination
as well--when it didn't materialize, Carrey lashed out at Academy members for their narrow-minded selection process.
Perhaps inspired by the snub, Carrey threw himself into his next role with abandon. After edging out a handful of
other hopefuls (including Edward Norton) to play eccentric funnyman Andy Kaufman in 'Man on the Moon (1999)' , Carrey disappeared into the role, living as Kaufman--and his blustery alter-ego Tony Clifton--for
months (Carrey even owned Kaufman's bongo drums, which he'd used during his audition for director Milos Forman). His sometimes uncanny impersonation was rewarded with another Golden Globe, but once again the Academy kept quiet.
An indignant Carrey next reprised his bankable mania for the Farrelly brothers in Me, Myself & Irene (2000), playing a state trooper whose Jekyll and Hyde personalities both fall in love with the same woman (Renée Zellweger). Carrey's real-life persona wound up falling for her too--a few months after the film wrapped, the pair announced they were
officially a couple. By then, Carrey had already slipped into a furry green suit to play the stingy antihero of Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).
After The Grinch, it was
time for Jim to take on a more serious and challenging role: the misunderstood comedy genius Andy Kaufman. Man on the Moon
was a great film and contained one of Jim Carrey’s best performance. He deservedly won a Golden Globe for it but wasn’t
nominated for an Oscar (as usual). The film had a great supporting cast (Paul Giamatti, Courteney Love, Danny DeVito) and
was funny and moving.
The Majestic (2001) was
his next movie and was a flop, which is strange in a way because it had all the ingredients for a good movie: Jim Carrey,
the director of the Shawshank Redemption, an intriguing premise. But the film was overlong, the story wanted to be more than
it really was, the script was slightly on the syrupy side at times and many people didn’t feel like seeing the Rubber
faced One in a too serious role. Having said all that, the first half hour is interesting, there are some fine
scenes and Jim does quite well.
2003 was Jim Carrey’s
come back to cartooney-comedy with mega-hit Bruce Almighty. Tom Shadyac, who directed Liar Liar, Ace Ventura, Nutty Professor
and (shudder) Patch Adams, said he wrote the part especially for Jim and watching the film, it’s not a very big surprise!
The film was a great hit and also starred Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman. But it was only a sort of practice for Jim
since 2004 was his best year since 1994.
2004 was a year when Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of the best films of the year (and my personal favourite), appeared . It had one of the
best cast of the year with Jim, Kate Winslet (playing against-type), Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson.
And was written by Charlie Kaufman, the genius behind Being John Malkovitch, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and
the underrated Human Nature. The director, Michel Gondry (Human Nature) brought an arty feel to the film as well as real emotions
to balance with Kaufman’s science-fiction surreal script. The film was nominated for numerous Golden Globes and will
probably get some rewards at the Baftas with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet nominated. The film is also nominated for Best Picture,
and rightly so. Kate Winslet is nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars for the year and if it doesn’t win Best Original
Screenplay it’ll be an outrage!
In December, Jim Carrey
appeared in another cool film: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. He starred alongside Meryl Streep, Billy
Connoly and Timothy Spalding. The result was a good adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s 3 first books. It was equally comical,
stylish, original and dark and stayed true to the books’ main ideas. Jim played the evil Count Olaf who terrorises 3
poor kids during a good part of the film. The Olaf of the books was much darker than Jim’s depiction but Jim’s
Olaf was still a hilarious and creepy creation.
His next movie will
be Fun With Dick and Jane, a comedy. He might play the Six Million Dollar Man in a spoofy adaptation of the 70s TV series.