But like with all comic geniuses throughout history, behind the laughter lies untold challenges and countless ups and downs. Keep reading to find out the real story behind one of the greatest comedians alive today.
Jim Carrey was born in Ontario, Canada, to a pretty regular pair of parents named Percy and Kathleen Carrey on January 17, 1962. The actor's mom was a typical homemaker, while his dad was an accountant.
The traditional Roman Catholic family was pretty big, and aside from Jim, they had three other kids. Rita, Patricia, and John. Carrey's father, Percy, was also an out-and-out music lover and loved to play instruments.
A Young Star
As a young boy, Jim Carrey caught the acting bug and would run around the house making hilarious impressions of the things he saw on TV. Initially, the only audience was his family, but very soon, that would all change.
It was his father who supported him and ultimately even encouraged him even to leave school and move to Hollywood. But it wasn't a straightforward step to take.
Predicting The Future
The comedy dreams within were ignited at an extremely young age for Carrey. At just ten years old, the little boy found himself hankering for a part on the classic sketch show "The Carol Burnette Show." Ten-year-old Carrey even wrote a letter to the producers of the show saying that he was great at impressions and that he would love the opportunity to play a boy his age.
Young Carrey also fell in love with "Monty Python" the legendary British sketch show. According to the actor, the cast had a huge impact on him, revealing the insane world of absurdist comedy, silly voices, and more. It would be a dream come true for the comedian that years later, in the year 2014, he would appear in a "Monty Python" special.
Jim Carrey has over the years achieved mega-star status as a millionaire comedian, but of course, things that like don't happen overnight. The Carreys were riddled with financial issues. As a kid, he and his brother had to work to help support the family.
Young Carrey got a job at a tire factory where his father worked, but the money he was earning there just wasn't going to cut it. Things worsened for some time and the family ended up homeless and started living out of a van.
Big Decision, Little Jim
While trying to hold down the job, Jim Carrey hit the comedy scene in the hopes of making it big. He auditioned for films, tried stand-up, whatever he could that would hone his skills for the big leagues.
It also turned out that school was just getting in the way, which is why he dropped out at 16 years old.
Most parents would not take too kindly to their kids dropping out of school at such a young age, but Carrey's parents knew his talents would shoot him into stardom eventually.
His father, Percy Carrey, was his number one fan and would even help the young comedian prepare his acts for the Toronto club's stage. Carrey tried his hand at the famous Canadian standup comedy club called "Yuk Yuk's." It looked like he would be on his way.
Not an Instant Hit
You would think a young Jim Carrey would just hop on stage and become an A-lister the next day. Not exactly. In fact, on stage at the 'Yuk Yuk's," Carrey would find that the comedy world is pretty cut-throat.
His impressions totally bombed, and the crowd was not into it. It would be a few more years until he got it right.
Getting it Right
It took some time for him to find the rhythm, but when it that happened, he was up, up, and away. As Carrey started to show some promise in the local comedy scene in Toronto, it became evident that he was destined for bigger things.
Soon Carrey would have to head out to Hollywood and make a name for himself.
Coming to America
Things started to look promising, but it wasn't perfect. This was not the local comedy scene in his hometown, and landing the gigs he wanted would obviously prove to be complicated. The first knock was getting rejected from "Saturday Night Live."
Carrey auditioned for the live sketch show for the 1980-81 season. Had he made it, he would have been starring alongside Eddie Murphy. In the end, things didn't work out for him on the show, but he surely would return some forty years later.
Making it in Hollywood is not for the faint of heart, and Carrey realized that. But then along came a film called "Rubberface" and seemed to be the perfect fit at the time. The 1981 film was only under an hour-long, but he would be the lead.
In the film, he portrayed a struggling comedian (sounds about right) who helped an overweight girl gain confidence, and she, in turn, helped him write better jokes. While Carrey's performances were great, the movie was not very well received.
The Rest of the 1980s
Following "Rubberface," more low-budget '80s films kept coming. He starred in the sitcom "The Duck Factory" and the horror-comedy "Once Bitten." Of course, the rejection from "Saturday Night Live" was met with quite a lot of disappointment.
Even with a part in a movie, Carrey had profoundly wished for an opportunity to be apart of the SNL cast, but it turns out that his audition tape didn't even make it to Lorne Michaels, the creator, and producer of the show.
After twelve years of auditions and a string of mediocre slapstick comedies, things seriously turned around. In the year 1990, Jim Carrey got his first big break (many more would follow) with the American sketch comedy show "In Living Color."
The show was a fantastic stepping stone for the actor who could now show off his comedy chops on a national television show. Other comedians got their foot in the door with that show too, including the Wayans Brothers and Jamie Foxx. The show was a big hit and ran for an entirety of five seasons. Carrey was in them from start to finish.
In Living Color
"In Living Color" was the first of its kind. In the era of live sketch shows, a group of up-and-coming African American comedians created the show. It was funny, and it facilitated some much-needed representation of American diversity. The show was created by Keenan Ivory Wayans and bred a generation of long-lasting talent.
The show starred the Wayans siblings (Damon Wayans and Marlon Wayans), Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, and even Jennifer Lopez appeared. The show ran for four years, from April 15, 1990, to May 19, 1994.
A Very Lucky Year
Carrey's four-year stint on "In Living Color" undoubtedly cemented his status as a potential star. The show helped establish him as a major comedic lead, and soon the movie offers started to roll in. It seemed like as soon as the show ended in the year 1994, things only went up.
That same year the actor secured parts in three massive movies. "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Mask," and "Dumb and Dumber." Within just one year, the actor was earning eight-figure paychecks.
The King of Physical Comedy
Jim Carrey was now officially in the mainstream and was making his mark with countless memorable roles. Already immortalizing himself as a high-energy, almost cartoon character. Carrey was becoming one of the hottest and most quotable stars in the biz.
More movies such as "The Cable Guy, "Dumb and Dumber" further strengthened his place as the slapstick comedy king. Carrey then blew audiences away as the green-faced "smokin'" Dirty Harry loving character in "The Mask."
Evidently, Carrey's career was in no way slowing down, and if the year 1994 were lucky, the next few years would be magical. The actor landed more movie roles throughout the late 90s and 2000s. Some of his most iconic films were "Liar Liar," "Cable Guy," "Batman Forever," and of course, the 1998 film, "The Truman Show."
"The Truman Show" allowed Carrey to showcase his hidden dramatic acting abilities. The unique plot required both immense comedic skill as well as a dramatic touch. This is what truly made Jim Carrey enter a new realm.
The Truman Show
The film told the story of a man named Truman Burbank, who unknowingly spends his entire life in a never-ending reality show. It was a natural step away from the usual comedic roles that he was consistently playing since the '80s to mid-'90s. The film starred top-notch dramatic actors, including Laura Linney and Ed Harris.
Throughout the film, we watch our hero, Truman Burbank, slowly discover the manufactured world around him and plot his escape. The performance undoubtedly became one of his most acclaimed roles yet, ultimately putting the actor in a new direction.
A New Decade
The actor proved to have it all: major money-making status and a natural touch for the drama. By the 2000s, the "The Mask" actor nabbed more roles, continuing to diversify in his parts. In 2007, Carrey appeared in both the big-budget comedy "Bruce Almighty" as well as "The Number 23," an intense thriller directed by Joe Schumacher.
While his dramatic capabilities opened up doors, many die-hard comedy fans felt that he was best-suited to the more goofy and adorable roles, which he is most known for. It was also where the money was, alas even with all his acting prowess, Carrey was subject to the cast-type curse.
Landing on the Moon
What better to break the curse than to once again prove everyone wrong. After a string of mega-successful comedies, Carrey picked another film with a slightly different tone. There was no doubt that Carrey could do funny, he could do drama, and he could certainly do strange, so who better than him to portray the legendary comedian Andy Kaufman.
The legendary '70s comic was even famously dubbed "the anti-comic" and made a name for himself as one of the wackiest avant-garde comedians in history. More concerned with confusing his audience than actually making them laugh, Kaufman attracted quite a lot of controversy for his antics. It was a perfect match, and Carrey, who was, of course, a major fan.
If you're an actor portraying your favorite comedian, there is bound to be some excitement. Unfortunately, the direction of this excitement did not exactly go into a remarkably positive direction. As the story goes, Carry found himself a little too immersed in the life of the late famous anti-comedian.
During the filming period, Carrey stayed in character and even would even having trouble coming out of the Tony Clifton character; this was an alter ego that Kaufman himself created during his career. He would incorporate the cigar smoking and foul-mouthed character into his standup performances. Needless to say, all the method acting got a little too complex for Jim Carrey to juggle, who found himself almost stuck in the mind of the late actor.
Complaints on Set
The incidents on set even became the subject of a documentary called "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond." Many of these complaints can be seen in the footage. In fact, Paul Giamatti, in particular, found him very difficult. In an interview with E!, Giamatti revealed that acting alongside him was unusual, to say the least.
He said, “It was an extraordinary experience. It was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had making a movie, to be honest with you. It was just wacky. Jim was wacky during it.” This was not all that Paul Giamatti had to say about Jim and his method.
"He Smelled Horrible"
Paul Giamatti described how bad Carrey smelled during performing, especially when he was playing the Tony Clifton character. Apparently, the comedian was eager to feel the full effect of the character, who was notoriously stinky. This is why he acted with slices of Limburger cheese in his pockets, and Giamatti could not stand it.
Giamatti continues saying, "And he’d constantly be hugging people, and he had it all over his hands and stuff. It was disgusting. He was touching people and making them shake his hands all the time. He smelled horrible, like really bad. It was just weird, and that’s the least of it."
Jim and Joel Schumacher
Carrey hasn't only made enemies. While Giamatti may not be such a fan of his, Carrey has made friends elsewhere. Joel Schumacher, the director of "Batman Forever," has expressed his incredibly positive experience with the actor. Schumacher took over the Batman franchise from Tim Burton in the '90s and formed a strong bond with him.
Both Schumacher and Carrey share a passion for eccentric and camp-style filmmaking, which became evident in the very original "Batman Forever." In fact, the duo had such a great dynamic on their first project together that they decided to reunite in 2007 to make "The Number 23." Carrey was very public over his grief after the director's tragic passing. Carrey took to Twitter to say that Schumacher "saw deeper things in me than most."
Breaking The Mold
Today everybody knows the extent of Carrey's acting abilities, but it took some time for the actor to recognize that. What set him apart from other comedians was his incredible range and the versatility he had within the genre of comedy. He could go from the most physically absurd style to even surreal-type humor. Of course, he demonstrated just how dark and morose he could be too. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was Carrey's breakthrough moment in realistic drama.
The film starred the great Kate Winslet and was written by screenwriting legend Charlie Kaufman. It told the story of a terribly difficult breakup and how a man uses a new type of memory loss procedure to erase the memory of his ex-girlfriend literally. The breathtaking scenes both dramatically and cinematically elevated Carrey into a new status.
Of course, you can't wow them forever. Carrey had rightfully earned his spot in the hall of great actors, but as a comedian to his very core, the actor went back to good old funny movies. He would continue to land more comedies, some hits, and some, a little more lukewarm at the box office.
Some of these films included "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Fun with Dick and Jane." These were the quintessential Jim Carrey movies that people were guaranteed to love.
Carrey's incredible ability to go from comedy to drama kept being displayed. Carrey's resume is filled with both. In the early 2000s, he went from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," a kids movie based on Dr. Seuss's book, to "The Majestic," a drama about a blacklisted Hollywood writer who loses his memory.
Carrey's career continued like this for some time. Another hugely daring film came in 2008, where he wowed audiences as a gay conman in "I Love You Phillip Morris," in which he starred alongside the great Ewan Mcgregor.
Working For Free
Hollywood is definitely known for the big bucks, with actors making tons of money from movies, commonly in the millions. In today’s world, A-list actors are some of the highest earners in the world. Historically it wasn't always like this, and the biggest stars in Hollywood ended up being seriously underpaid.
Jim Carrey happened to be an example of this. At least initially. For the film "Yes Man," he did not get a cent upfront. Later it turned to be a real success, and the actor ended up making $35 million from the movie after its box office success.
Being a Yes Man
There was a reason this happened, and it was actually due to his personal choice. Before "Yes Man," Carrey made a film called "Fun with Dick and Jane" starring Tea Leoni. It had a $100 million budget and was written by Judd Apatow. The 2005 film had a lot going for it, but it turned out to be a total flop and lost millions at the box office.
For "Yes Man," Jim Carrey refused upfront payment for the movie, meaning he shot a whole movie without getting any salary. What he did do, which was rather clever, was that he negotiated for 36.2 percent of the movie's profits. That good thinking got him roughly $30 million.
While "Yes Man" was technically a commercial success, the critical feedback was a mixed bag. Fortunately for the audience, they could count on Jim Carrey’s hilarious antics for a good laugh, but people didn't take to the film's plot too much.
The film earned itself a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 46 percent rating, Metacritic also gave it a 46 out of 100. Even so, these reviews did not seem to affect commercial success strongly, and he ended up making 223.2 million dollars.
Behind The Laughter
While our favorite funny man has seen many Hollywood success, his personal life hasn't always been on the same winning streak. The actor has seen some heart-ache when it comes to his romantic life. But it sure has been a colorful one; Carrey has been linked to rocker Linda Ronstadt, Renee Zellwegger, Jenny McCarthy, and more.
It's no secret that the comedian has also struggled with emotional issues. It's because of this that his relationships have been somewhat rocky over the years. His partners have even described him as an extremely depressive person, a far cry from the Carrey we know on screen.
The First Marriage
Carrey's first marriage was to fellow actor and comedian Melissa Womer. The two met in the late '80s when he was working the comedy circuit, and she was waitressing at the Comedy Store, a comedy club in LA. It was a blissful union, and they even had a child together.
The thing took a turn in the mid-'90s when the actor suddenly rose to fame after a string of mega-successful films. Womer found her new hubby thrown into the spotlight and had a hard time adjusting to it. The two called it quits in 1995.
Marriage Number Two
Shortly after the first marriage wrapped up, the funny man found himself saying "I do" once more, this time to his co-star from "Dumb and Dumber," Lauren Holly. For some time, things looked as if they were going swimmingly, for a few months, that is.
The two ended up filing for divorce just months after exchanging vows. Holly ultimately blamed the overwhelming public scrutiny for this and the intrusiveness of the paparazzi. Their short-lived romance would soon be forgotten when Carrey would fall for yet another costar.
The One That Got Away
All was not lost for Carrey. His film, "Me and Myself and Irene," about a man coping with split personality while falling in love, was another hit, a strange one, but hugely commercially successful nonetheless. It was also where he fell for Renee Zellweger, who played opposite him as the love interest.
Sparks flew during filming, and the two were inseparable, sadly only between 1999 and 2000. Once again, it was the media attention that got in the way. Interestingly, in a recently published semi-autobiography, Carrey revealed that Zellwegger was "the great love of his life." Could this imply a future rekindling? Who knows!
After countless brief affairs, the rubber-faced comedian found something a little more permanent when he met former model Jenny McCarthy. For years the couple seemed the absolute picture of happiness. Carrey was even a father figure to McCarthys' son. They seemed to be a loving family, and for five years, it was like that.
Sadly in the year 2010, the couple split. A big reason seemed to point to Carrey's depression. It seemed to be amicable, but some time after McCarthy publically criticized Carrey on the "Howard Stern Show," things seemed to be getting a little sour. Soon Carrey's life would be turned upside down with another scandalous romance.
A Tragic Loss
As the relationship with McCarthy fizzled, another blossomed. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, however. The comedian met Irish makeup artist Cathriona White on a film set in 2012 but reconnected in 2015; that same year, they decided to pursue a relationship.
According to various sources, White had been battling substance abuse for some time, and although there seemed to be a strong connection between them, the relationship could not go on. Tragedy struck when the young make-up artist passed away under unfortunate circumstances.
The loss left Carrey heart-broken; not only that, but later, he would also need to clear his name in court in a scandalous lawsuit between him and her family. White's family accused Carrey of being a bad influence on her.
The lawsuit crushed the actor, but thankfully his lawyers proved that this was a false claim, and the two had broken up before the tragic event. Even though Carrey succeeded in disproving the claims, the public could not quickly unlearn this.
A Much Needed-Break
The offers stopped rolling in, and Jim Carrey flew off the radar for some time. He was still acting, but the comedy king was nowhere as big as he had been a few years back. Throughout the 2010s' Carrey appeared in "Mr. Popper's Penguins" to a somewhat disappointing response.
He continued to take supporting roles in films like "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and "Kick-Ass 2" and got lukewarm reviews once again. He did, however, reprise his old-time fan favorite in 2014.
Dumber And Dumber To
In 1995 Jim Carrey starred alongside Jeff Daniels in the Farrelly's Brothers classic "Dumb and Dumber." The film was a cult hit and revived slapstick comedy. For years fans had been hankering for a sequel, wondering what the iconic characters Harry and Lloyd had been up to.
Their prayers were answered, and in 2014, when Carrey and Daniels reprised their roles and starred in the hit sequel "Dumber And Dumber To," Sadly, even with all silliness and classic Harry and Lloyd, shenanigans, fans and critics were let down.
Leaving the Business
Carrey started to look for an exit. He told "The Hollywood Reporter," "I just didn't want to be in the business anymore. I didn't like what was happening, the corporations taking over and all that." The response was mixed.
In recent years, fans went a little cold on the actor who commented on some controversial things such as science and politics. The actor began to look in a new direction.
Jim Carrey's shift away from Hollywood occurred because he truly did accomplish most of what he set out to achieve as an actor. In 2016, he began pursuing a new career in painting. The actor has always loved to paint and express his feelings on a canvas. His art also allows him to address politics and world events.
In 2018, the actor turned artist put his artwork on display. The exhibit took place during the 2018 mid-term elections and allowed Carrey to raise specific world issues.
Not Completely Forgotten
While the actor's career took a bump, and Carrey's other pursuits flourished, it wasn't completely "goodbye showbiz." Fans were delighted to learn that their favorite comedian was back in a big way. Carrey would be the voice of the iconic "Sonic the Hedgehog."
In true Carrey fashion, he would also be back in a more dramatic role, this time in a killer new Showtime series. The show "Kidding" features Carrey as a children's performer named Mr. Pickles, who struggles juggling his work and personal tragedies. His performance received rave reviews, and his costars Catherine Keener, Frank Langella, and Judy Gree have been no less impressive.
A Return to DC Comics?
Everyone loved to see their favorite actor reprise their famous roles. This is why a huge sense of excitement swept the world when fans learned that the actor might come back to DC Comics. And while everyone adored the Riddler, there may be another role in store for him.
According to insider Daniel Richtman’s Patreon account, Warner Bros. hopes to bring Carrey back for another DC Comics movie Joker. However, it’s unclear whether the rumored role would be for a sequel to "The Batman" or "Joker."
But Not To The Mask
Like so many of his roles, fans have begged for sequels, but Jim Carrey is not always on board. When it comes to "The Mask," Carrey has expressed some resistance to a sequel. However, he hasn't ruled it out entirely.
Carrey said, "I don't want to do it just to do it. But I would only do it if it was some crazy visionary filmmaker. Sure." We hope that a visionary filmmaker is out there somewhere!
How Roland Rolls
It looks like Carrey achieved just about everything he could on the silver screen. He then branched out into art, but the comedian has even another passion, and this may have even been the inspiration for this character on "Kidding." Carrey released a children's book in 2013.
The book, titled "How Roland Rolls," tells the story of a wave that is afraid his life will be over when he hits the shore. The book even included an EP of original songs that collaborated between Carrey and his singer daughter Jane Carrey.
As the daughter of Melissa Womer and Jim Carrey, Jane is no stranger to the performing arts. Trying to carve out her own space in the entertainment industry, Jane found herself as a singer.
Though her father's popularity has, of course, taken its toll, she remains grounded as ever. Jane is now a mother herself and has been married and divorced.
As a seasoned celebrity, Jim Carrey knows all too well the many pitfalls of glamorous Hollywood. This is why he has taken to the role of mentor for other stars on a similar path. Carrey had some priceless advice for Chris Pratt when Pratt asked Carrey what the next step in his career should be.
Carrey responded, "There's going to be a point in life where you are going to have to prove that your family is more important to you than show business." Pratt immediately took his first break from acting and spent more time with his family.
Inspiring Ariana Grande
Jim Carrey has inspired fans everywhere. Some of those fans grew up to be icons themselves. An example of that would be Ariana Grande, who has admitted that she's a massive fan of Carrey. In 2019, Grande posted an image of Carrey, adding that Carrey has been an inspiration for her.
Carrey saw the tweet and responded with a lovely tweet of his own. Grande was speechless and could only say, "I can't process this or breathe. Hold on." The singer had a starring role in season 2 of "Kidding."
Saturday Night Live
You may recall that Jim Carrey's 1980 SNL audition instead bombed and didn't even make it beyond the initial filter. Lorne Michaels admitted years later that he didn't even receive the tape. Perhaps things would have gone differently had he seen it? Who knows! But that didn't matter.
That's because Carrey made his comeback. In addition to hosting in 2011, Carrey appeared as President Joe Biden in the famous election episode. The choice seemed to be in response to the famous decision made by Lorne Michaels to outsource the two presidential candidates (Baldwin has been famously portraying Trump). It's safe to say that both Bidens won that month.
Jim Carrey's life has had its ups and downs. no doubt. An actor that has that much emotional range is bound to pretty complex. It hasn't always been easy to stay afloat, but the actor, through thick and thin, has put making people laugh above everything.
Whatever the situation, Carrey will try to bring a smile to your face, which is why he remains one of the funniest comedians in the industry, no matter the role.