James Eugene Carrey
(born January 17, 1962) is a colorful actor with a face for molding and often plays the central character. He had been acting since the mid-1980s, most notably in the short-lived sitcom The Duck Factory
, but came to attention as a Token White
cast member on In Living Color!
who managed to hold his own with several popular sketch characters, including Vera, the Mannish Bodybuilder, Fire Marshal Bill, a masochistic, cartoonishly destructive fire marshal hired to teach people fire safety (with disastrous results) whether or not he's somewhere where fire safety is needed, and Grandpa Jack, the depressed, divorced, alcoholic host of The Dysfunctional Home Show
. Some notable celebrity impressions include Paul Reubens
(as Pee-Wee Herman), Vanilla Ice, Tom Hanks (in a parody of the movie Philadelphia
), Sgt. Stacy Koon (from the infamous Rodney King beating trial in the early 1990s), George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Michael Bolton.
When the small-scale Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
arrived on movie screens in early 1994, it was roasted by critics
but proved to be a surprisingly big hit. As it happened, he did two other hit movies that year (The Mask
and Dumb and Dumber
) and was soon an A-list performer, in essence the first big film comedy star of the 1990s. He has played many classic characters, and his involvement in a movie will often be a success — so successful, the subsequent films and series usually go down from his absence.
Speaking of which, he never
makes sequels. He explains that he got a distaste for playing the same character in In Living Color
. The only reason he did the Ace Ventura
sequel (as of September 2013, his only one) was due to contract reasons. In 1995, he even turned down a $10 million paycheck—which would have set a record, at the time, for the highest sum ever offered to a single actor—to reprise his role as Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask 2
. 2014 will see him break his rule a second time in Dumb and Dumber To
, re-teaming with Jeff Daniels and the Farrelly brothers. He actually was
interested in reprising the role of Count Olaf for a sequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events
, but the film did not do well at the box-office, resulting in sequel plans being put in limbo.
Starting with The Truman Show
, he has successfully made the transition to more serious films
, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
probably his most lauded serious role. It hasn't stopped him from appearing in goofy comedy as well, though, and nowadays he's well respected both aspects of his acting range. While not as popular as he was at his height in The Nineties
, his career has proven surprisingly durable.
In his early days performing standup comedy, Carrey reportedly wrote himself a check for almost $1 million and promised himself that he would, one day, be worth enough to legally cash it (as his family struggled with money and was homeless for a good chunk of their lives after his father's saxophone shop went under). That promise was fulfilled soon after his performance in The Mask
and Dumb and Dumber
, though by that point, he had already earned several times more than the check itself was worth. When his father died, he put the check he wrote to himself in his father's casket.note
Roles of Note: