At 61 years old, Jim Carrey has this physical status:
Carrey's first stand-up comedy experience took place in 1977 at the age of 15 with his father trying to help him put together a stage act, driving him to downtown Toronto to debut at the recently-opened Yuk Yuk's comedy club operating one-night-a-week out of community centre The 519's basement on Church Street. For the performance, Carrey had his attire—a polyester leisure suit—chosen by his mother who reasoned "that's how they dress on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast". Pubescent Carrey's conventional impersonations bombed, proving ill-suited for a club with a raunchy comedic sensibility and giving him doubts about his potential as a professional entertainer. Decades later, recalling Carrey's stand-up debut, Yuk Yuk's owner Mark Breslin described it as "bad Rich Little". His family's financial struggles made it difficult for them to support Carrey's show business ambitions.
Eventually, the family's financial situation improved and they moved into a new home in Jackson's Point. With more domestic stability, Carrey returned to the stage in 1979 with a more polished act that led to his first paid gig: a 20-minute spot at the Hay Loft club on Highway 48 in Scarborough for a reported Can$20 compensation on a bill with the Mother of Pearl performer from The Pig and Whistle. He soon faced his fears and went back downtown to the site of his debacle from two years earlier—Yuk Yuk's that had in the meantime moved into a permanent location on Bay Street in the fashionable Yorkville district. In a short period of time, the seventeen-year-old went from open-mic nights at the club to regular paid shows, building his reputation in the process.
Parallel to his increasing local Toronto-area popularity as an impressionist stand-up comic, Carrey tried to break into sketch comedy, auditioning to be a cast member for the 1980–81 season of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Carrey ended up not being selected by the show's new executive producer Jean Doumanian who picked thirty-one-year-old Charles Rocket instead. Decades later, after establishing himself as a Hollywood film star, Carrey would host the show in May 1996, January 2011, and October 2014. After not getting Saturday Night Live, Carrey took a voice acting job performing Clutch Cargo-inspired bits on The All-Night Show, an overnight program airing locally on the CFMT-TV channel branded as Multilingual Television (MTV).
Continuing to perform his stand-up act of contortionist impressions in the city of Toronto and surrounding towns, in February 1981, nineteen-year-old Carrey was booked as the opening act for the rock band Goddo at The Roxy Theatre in Barrie for two shows on consecutive nights; the rock crowd booed him offstage and he refused to return for the second night. Two weeks later, however, a review of one of Carrey's spots at Yuk Yuk's—alongside a sizeable photo of him doing a stage impression of Sammy Davis Jr.—appeared in the Toronto Star on the front page of its entertainment section with the writer Bruce Blackadar raving about "a genuine star coming to life". Save for a brief mention in the Barrie Examiner, it was the first time Carrey received significant mainstream corporate media coverage and the glowing praise in one of Canada's highest-circulation dailies created demand for his impressionist stand-up act throughout the country. In April 1981, he appeared in an episode of the televised stand-up show An Evening at the Improv. That summer, he landed one of the main roles in Introducing... Janet, a made-for-TV movie that premiered in September 1981 on the CBC drawing more than a million viewers for its first airing in Canada. Playing a struggling impressionist comic Tony Maroni, it was Carrey's first acting role. The CBC promotion the movie had received as well its subsequent high nationwide viewership further solidified the youngster's comedic status in the country; by the time the movie finished its CBC run of repeats several years later, its title for the home video release on VHS was changed to Rubberface in order to take advantage of the comic's by then established prominence for doing elaborate contortionist impressions. Making more comedy club appearances in the United States, Carrey was noticed by comedian Rodney Dangerfield who signed Carrey to open his tour performances. By December 1981, a well-known comic in Canada, Toronto Star reported about Carrey waiting for a United States work permit having received interest from Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, largely off his reputation from Canada.
In the early part of 1982, Carrey reportedly performed for The Tonight Show bookers Jim McCauley and Bud Robinson as part of the program's audition process for stand-up comic spots. However, rather than being booked on the show, Carrey got advised to further hone his act, so he went back home to the Toronto area where he had already built a significant following. Touring venues throughout North America as the opening act for Rodney Dangerfield, Carrey made a stop at home in Toronto on 19 June 1982, performing two sold-out shows at Massey Hall.
In early 1983, Carrey decided to move to Hollywood where he began regularly performing at The Comedy Store. Getting on The Tonight Show became his immediate career goal, and, by spring 1983, he appeared to have achieved it after getting booked for a stand-up set on the highly-rated late night show. However, a lukewarm club set at The Improv got him unbooked. Though struggling to replicate his success in Los Angeles, Carrey continued being a big hit in his hometown Toronto where he returned during late April 1983 to perform at the short-lived B.B. Magoon's theatrical venue on Bloor Street on three consecutive nights. While in town, CTV's flagship newsmagazine program W5 did a feature on Carrey that aired nationally in Canada. Back in L.A., within months, he landed the main role on The Duck Factory, a sitcom being developed for NBC, and, in late November 1983, still got to debut his impressionist act on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson via a promotional appearance for the sitcom about to start airing nationally in the United States on the same network. In the meantime, he was cast for a supporting role in the Warner Bros. comedy production Finders Keepers, shot in the Canadian province of Alberta during late summer 1983. For his Tonight Show appearance that aired on American Thanksgiving, 21-year-old Carrey went through his most popular impressions—Elvis Presley, Leonid Brezhnev, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Michael Landon, James Dean, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Charles Nelson Reilly, characters from My Three Sons, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy—in rapid succession. After completing his set, though getting the OK gesture from Carson, the impressionist comic was notably not waved over by the host to join him on the couch—a usual indication that while sufficiently pleased, the powerful host was probably not ecstatic about the performance. The end of 1983 saw Carrey go back home to Toronto once more for a publicized New Years' Eve performance at the Royal York Hotel's Imperial Room.
Originally scheduled to start airing in January 1984, The Duck Factory sitcom debut in April, airing Thursdays at 9:30pm between Cheers and Hill Street Blues. The same month, Carrey took a job hosting the 1984 U-Know Awards ceremony held in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel's Ballroom. By the time he made his debut appearance on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman in late July 1984, the network had already cancelled The Duck Factory; Carrey went back to touring with his impressionist act, including often opening for Rodney Dangerfield.
After being noticed doing stand-up by producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and contacted to audition for a teen horror sex comedy being developed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Carrey landed a starring role in Once Bitten shot in early 1985. Carrey would continue getting film roles; throughout late summer and early fall 1985, he shot a supporting part in Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married which went into a long post-production process. In parallel, he decided to try out for Saturday Night Live again, this time ahead of the show's 1985-86 season being prepared by returning executive producer Lorne Michaels who was looking to hire an all-new cast. Five years removed from his previous SNL audition, twenty-three-year-old Carrey was rejected again, reportedly never even getting the chance to audition his material—'post-nuclear Elvis' hybrid impression and impersonation of Henry Fonda from On Golden Pond—in front of executive producer Michaels due to the show's producers and senior writers Al Franken, Tom Davis, and Jim Downey deciding that Michaels would not like it. Unlike his previous SNL rejection, Carrey now had a bit of a film career to fall back on in addition to his impressionist stand-up act; Once Bitten was released in mid November 1985 and turned out to be a modest box-office hit despite drawing poor reviews.
Back on the comedy club circuit with impressions, in fall 1986, Carrey auditioned for SNL's upcoming season, his third attempt at getting on the ensemble sketch comedy show. Finally managing to perform for the show's executive producer Lorne Michaels at a Burbank studio, with returning cast members Dennis Miller, Jon Lovitz, and Nora Dunn also watching the audition, Carrey was rejected again. Among the group of hopefuls auditioning alongside Carrey on this occasion were Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman, both of whom were hired.
Sensing that doing only impressions was turning into a career dead-end, Carrey set out to develop a new live comedy act. Much to the dismay of comedy club owners booking him, he began abandoning trademark celebrity impressions, opting instead to try adding observational and character humour to his comedic repertoire, a process that often involved forcing himself to improvise and scramble in front of dissatisfied live audiences that came to see him do impressions.
From 1990 to 1994, Carrey was a regular cast member of the ensemble comedy television series In Living Color. While short-lived, the popularity of this series helped him to land his first few major film roles.
Carrey played the lead role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective which was released in February 1994 and went on to gross $72 million in the United States and Canada. Following its success and before the release of his next film, The Mask, which was anticipated to be another hit, Morgan Creek Productions paid him $5 million to reprise his role as Ace Ventura and New Line Cinema offered him $7 million to make a sequel to The Mask and paid him $7 million to appear in Dumb and Dumber, a nearly tenfold increase on his salary for Ace Ventura. The Mask, released in July 1994, grossed $351 million worldwide, and Dumb and Dumber, released in December 1994, was another commercial success, grossing over $270 million worldwide. Carrey received his first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor for his work in The Mask and was voted second on Quigley's Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll, behind Tom Hanks.
Carrey portrayed the Batman villain the Riddler in the Joel Schumacher-directed superhero film Batman Forever (1995). The film received mixed reviews, but was a box office success. He reprised his role as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls which was also released in 1995. Like the original film, it was well received by the public, but poorly received by critics. It was a huge box-office success, earning $212 million worldwide in addition to breaking records, with a $40 million opening weekend.
Carrey became the first actor to be paid $20 million for his next film, The Cable Guy (1996). Directed by Ben Stiller, the film was a satirical black comedy, in which Carrey played a lonely, menacing cable TV installer who infiltrates the life of one of his customers (played by Matthew Broderick). The role was a departure from the "hapless, hyper, overconfident" characters he had been known for. However, it did not fare well with most critics, many reacting to Carrey's change of tone from previous films. Carrey also starred in the music video of the film's closing song, "Leave Me Alone" by Jerry Cantrell. Despite the reviews, The Cable Guy grossed $102 million worldwide.
He soon bounced back with the critically acclaimed comedy Liar Liar (1997), playing Fletcher Reede, an unethical lawyer rendered unable to lie by his young son's birthday wish. 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 seriocomic 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 Academy Award. For The Truman Show, he was nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. The Truman Show was a commercial success, 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 and received his second Golden Globe in a row. In addition, he received his first Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Actor.
In 2000, Carrey reteamed with the Farrelly brothers, who had previously directed him in Dumb and Dumber, for the black 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 from critics alongside a Golden Globe nomination.
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 television newsman who unexpectedly receives God's omnipotent abilities when the deity decides to take a vacation. The film received mixed reviews upon release but still became a financial success, earning over $484 million worldwide, and going on to become the seventeenth highest-grossing live action comedy of all time.
In 2004, Carrey starred in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film received critical acclaim upon release. Critics highly praised Carrey's portrayal of Joel Barish, in addition to the performance of his co-star Kate Winslet, who was nominated for an Oscar. According to CNN's reviewer Paul Clinton, Carrey's performance was the actor's "best, most mature and sharply focused performance ever." Carrey received another Golden Globe nomination and his first BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actor.
Carrey's next appearance was in the 2004 black comedy fantasy film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was based on the children's novels of the same name. The film was positively received; Desson Thomson from The Washington Post said of Carrey's approach to the character of Count Olaf,
That same year, Carrey was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame. In 2005, Carrey starred in the remake of Fun with Dick and Jane with Tea Leoni, which grossed $200 million with a profit of $100 million.
Carrey reunited with Joel Schumacher, director of Batman Forever, for The Number 23 (2007), 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. The following year Carrey provided his voice for Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008). Carrey voiced Horton the Elephant for the CGI-animated feature, which was a box office success, grossing over $290 million worldwide.
Carrey returned to live-action comedy, starring opposite Zooey Deschanel and Bradley Cooper in Yes Man (also 2008). Carrey played a man who signs up for a self-help program that teaches him to say yes to everything. 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 decent reviews and was a financial success. Carrey landed the lead role in Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011), playing Tom Popper Jr., a realtor who becomes the caretaker of a family of penguins. The film received a mixed reception upon release.
He starred alongside former co-star Steve Carell in the Don Scardino-directed comedy film The Incredible 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 underperformed significantly at the box office, grossing just over $27 million on a $30 million budget.
Around the same time, he appeared in Kick-Ass 2 (also 2013) as Colonel Stars and Stripes. He retracted support for the film two months prior to its release. He issued a statement via his Twitter account that, in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, "Now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence."
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 1 October 2012, Yahoo!'s The Yo Show carried the news item that the script was complete and that the original actors, Carrey and Daniels, would be reprising their roles. The plot involved one of the characters having sired a child and needing to find them to obtain a kidney. Dumb and Dumber To was released in November 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.
Carrey delivered the commencement address at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, in May 2014 and received an honorary doctorate for his achievements as a comedian, artist, author, and philanthropist.
Carrey was a producer on Rubble Kings, a 2015 documentary film that depicts events preceding and following the Hoe Avenue peace meeting.
On 29 August 2014, Carrey was honoured by Canada Post with a limited-edition postage stamp with his portrait on it.
In June 2017, Showtime began airing the dramedy I'm Dying Up Here, for which Carrey served as the executive producer. The show, which chronicles a group of stand-up comics in 1970s Los Angeles, incorporates aspects of Carrey's own experience. In September of that year, that same network announced that he would be starring in a comedy series titled Kidding, which will reunite Carrey and director Michel Gondry. By the end of 2017, it was announced that Catherine Keener would star opposite Carrey in Kidding.
Carrey was also the subject of two documentaries in 2017. The first, a short subject entitled I Needed Color about his lifelong passion for art, was released online in the summer. Later that year another documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond—Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton, premiered at The Venice Film Festival and was later picked up by Netflix. The film chronicles the behind-the-scenes drama during the shooting of Man on the Moon, when he never broke character as Andy Kaufman. It incorporates footage that was shot for the film's electronic press kit but ultimately pulled by Universal as they felt that it was too damaging.
In June 2018, Carrey was cast as Dr. Robotnik, the main antagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series, in a film adaptation of the franchise. The film was released in February 2020 to positive reviews. Carrey's portrayal of Robotnik was praised, with some considering it one of his best performances in years. Carrey returned for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, released in April 2022, which grossed $72 million at the US box office in its opening weekend to give Carrey the best opening of his career to date.
In 2020, Carrey published Memoirs and Misinformation. In September, during the final stages of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, it was announced that Carrey would portray Presidential nominee Joe Biden on the 46th season of Saturday Night Live, taking over the role from Jason Sudeikis, Woody Harrelson and John Mulaney. However, Carrey's high-energy comedy style clashed with real-life Biden's low-key persona, producing an imitation that lacked authenticity, and failed to impress viewers and critics. On December 19, 2020, Carrey announced that he would step down from playing Biden on Saturday Night Live, stating that he had a six-week deal. Cast member Alex Moffat succeeded Carrey in portraying Biden during the cold open of the episode hosted by Kristen Wiig at the same day.
Carrey appeared as the narrator of The Weeknd album Dawn FM, released on 7 January 2022.
In April 2022, Carrey announced that he was considering retiring from the film industry, explaining, "I have enough. I've done enough. I am enough." When asked if he would ever come back, his response was, "It depends. If the angels bring some sort of script that's written in gold ink that says to me that it's going to be really important for people to see, I might continue down the road, but I'm taking a break".
Well, this was a little more serious than we expected from Jim Carrey.
The Sonic The Hedgehog star released a sort of memoir last week with an odd twist: it’s fiction? Yes, perhaps inspired by comedy legend Andy Kaufman, whom he portrayed in the 1999 biopic Man On The Moon, Carrey decided he would do his tell-all as a novel — leaving everyone to guess what was and wasn’t actually true.