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Creator / Jim Carrey

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"My focus is to forget the pain of life. Forget the pain, mock the pain, reduce it. And laugh."

A colorful Canadian-born actor with a face for molding, James Eugene Carrey (born January 17, 1962) launched his career as a comic in the late 1970s as a celebrity impressionist. He moved into acting in the mid-1980s, most notably in the short-lived sitcom The Duck Factory, but — after expanding his stage act beyond impressions by adding eccentric observational humor and commentary — came to attention as a cast member on In Living Color! Serving as the cast's Token White male, he more than managed to hold his own with several popular sketch characters, including mannish bodybuilder Vera DeMilo, Fire Marshal Bill Burns — 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 he did for the show 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: 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, as he rarely makes sequels to his own films. He developed a distaste for playing the same characters again and again on In Living Color!; the only reason he did the Ace Ventura sequel was due to contract reasons, and so thoroughly detested working on it that he openly declared he would never do a sequel again. 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. He held to this until 2014's Dumb and Dumber To, re-teaming with Jeff Daniels and the Farrelly brothers. (He 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 enough at the box-office to warrant such.) He broke his rule again in 2022 by reprising his role of Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik for Sonic the Hedgehog 2.


Starting with The Truman Show, he made a transition to dramatic fare, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind probably his most lauded serious role. It hasn't stopped him from appearing in goofy comedy though; nowadays he's well-respected for his total acting range as in the Showtime Dramedy Kidding, which ran two seasons. While not as popular as he was at his height in The '90s, his career has been 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 

He's often dubbed by Mario Castañeda and Gerardo Reyero for Latin American Spanish releases of his films and by Emmanuel Curtil in French. In Japanese dubs, he's often voiced by Kōichi Yamadera.

Roles of Note:

Other works of note:

  • Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017): A retrospective documentary of the intense Method Acting he did for Man on the Moon.
  • Memoirs and Misinformation (2020): An autofictional (re: heavily, heavily fictionalized memoir) Surreal Humor novel written with Dana Vachon.
  • Dawn FM (2022): For this Concept Album by The Weeknd he plays the DJ who appears on three numbers: the title track (which leads directly into the song "Gasoline" and is included in the latter's video), "Out of Time", and the closing track "Phantom Regret by Jim" (which features him reciting an original poem). He also appears onscreen in the music video for "Out of Time".

Tropes associated with his roles:

  • Adam Westing: He's often poked fun at his goofy/Large Ham reputation.
    • From Batman Forever: "Was that over the top? I can never tell!"
    • In his first Saturday Night Live appearance (1996), the Joe Pesci Show skit he appeared in had him playing Jimmy Stewart... while Mark McKinney played Jim Carrey. "Stewart" is appalled by "Carrey" ("Smoke a lot of dope, do you son?") and mocks him as a diva:
      "Jimmy Stewart": Hello, I'm Jim Carrey! I'll do ANYTHING for a laugh! I need attention twenty-four hours a day! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! [brays like a donkey]''
    • When he presented an Oscar in 1997, he envisioned himself being used in commercials after his death, making fun of a then-current Trident slogan: "Who wants gum? (turns around and starts talking out of his butt) I do! I do!"
    • When he didn't get an Oscar nomination for The Truman Show, he still agreed to present an award. He pretended to break down into self-pitying tears during his intro. He was asked to participate in a gag the following year during Billy Crystal's opening film montage segment to poke fun at not being nominated for Man on the Moon, but declined.
    • In Liar Liar, there's a scene where Carrey's five-year-old son has discovered that his father can't lie, and is asking Carrey if various parenting clichés are true. The last one is:
      Max: If I keep making this face [makes a face], will it get stuck that way?
      Fletcher: Not in a million years. In fact, some people make a good living that way.
    • During the Hilarious Outtakes, the opposing lawyer (Swoosie Kurtz) he's trading insults with screams "Overactor!" (after being prompted to as a joke by the director). He laughs and says "Oh no. They're on to me," after playfully pretending to choke her.
    • This clip from Late Night with Conan O'Brien is ostensibly from a Biopic with Carrey playing Conan (this was when Man on the Moon was new), and Carrey's Conan acts as if he holds a grudge against the actual Jim Carrey. At the three-minute mark, Carrey/Conan makes fun of the facial contortions and catchphrases of Ace Ventura and The Mask.
    • From his own website:
      Oh great and powerful creator, how can I distinguish myself from other actors? out of my what?
    • Memoirs and Misinformation is basically Adam Westing: The Novel. For instance, "Carrey" goes full Method Acting while preparing for the prospective role of Mao Zedong's ghost inhabiting his body, while bristling at his agents who are trying to convince him to star in a movie based on the Play-Doh Fun Factory toy.
  • Advertised Extra: After the success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, some of his earliest films were given home video releases which emphasized his involvement.
    • In his first released film, Introducing... Janet, Carrey was the co-star, and didn't come in until about 10 minutes, the film really being about the titular Janet. It came to home video in 1995, retitled Rubberface, with Carrey being the only person on the cover and the only name above the title, and the description on the box made it seem as if he was the protagonist.
    • The first film Jim Carrey did (which got released a few years after Introducing... Janet) was All in Good Taste, in which he only appears briefly and has no dialogue. Home video releases have him in the main image on the cover and his name above the title as if he is the star.
    • After Carrey hit it big in 1994, the 1992 film High Strung was rereleased in theaters before getting a home video release, putting Jim Carrey on the cover, including a line from a review saying "Jim Carrey is funnier than he was in Ace Ventura", and the description talking about his involvement. While he has an important role in the film, he only appears in the film for about five minutes.
  • Animated Adaptation: His first three hit movies were all turned into Saturday morning cartoons in the mid-90s. Note that all of those movies were rated PG-13, resulting in more family-friendly jokes while retaining all of the wacky characteristics.
  • Black Comedy: The Cable Guy, in which his character turns out to be a stalker.
    • Me, Myself and Irene
    • Fun with Dick and Jane
  • Bus Crash: The reason he never appeared in sequels to the films he starred in, though he did star in the second Ace Ventura film as well as the third Dumb and Dumber film.
  • Career Resurrection: Carrey had a rough time of it in The New '10s. His relationship with anti-autism pseudoscience promoter Jenny McCarthy was problematic to say the least, and then there was 2014's Dumb and Dumber To, the sequel to Dumb and Dumber. Due to various legal issues surrounding that film against the crew responsible for making it, it was the end of Carrey's reign as a box office heavyweight (and he was the biggest for a time). For a few years he was mainly in smaller art-house releases and direct-to-video fare, and doing controversial paintings critical of various right-wing political figures, including then-President Donald Trump. He also suffered from depression, exacerbated by the suicide of an ex-girlfriend. Slowly but surely he recovered though: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, a documentary about his experiences on Man on the Moon, was acclaimed, he had a minor success with Kidding, and finally playing Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) gave him his first big movie — and a hit at that — in years. From there he not only had another hit with the sequel but had a success as a novelist with Memoirs and Misinformation, went viral with his limited-time stint on Saturday Night Live as Joe Biden, and appeared to great acclaim on The Weeknd's Dawn FM of all things.
  • Canada, Eh?: Carrey was born in Newmarket, Ontario. He used to get annoyed with the same trite reaction people in Los Angeles gave whenever he mentioned where he was from (‘Canada? Wow, must’ve been cold!’), but ultimately started playing along and giving this brilliant response.
  • Catchphrase: Many, especially when he became an A-list star. Close Enough did an entire episode ("The Canine Guy") invoking his most quotable films.
    • "Alrighty then!" (a catchphrase of his stand-up comedy that was written into Ace Ventura)
    • "Lemme show ya somethin'!" (In Living Color!)
    • "Sssssssssssmokin'!" (The Mask)
    • "Sssssssomebody stop me!" (The Mask)
    • "B-E-A-Utiful!" (Bruce Almighty)
    • "Hi-ho Silver! Away!" (He says this in both Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Bruce Almighty, despite playing a different character in each.)
    • "And in case I don't see ya — good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" (The Truman Show)
    • "Yeah-bsolutely!" (Mr. Popper's Penguins)
    • Man on the Moon takes an askew glance at the trope. Latka, Andy Kaufman's Taxi character (adapted from his stage act), has "Tank you veddy much" as his catchphrase. The montage of his work on the show ends with a Fully Automatic Clip Show of him saying that, implying that — at least to Andy — his character isn't much more than it.
    • In his first Saturday Night Live appearance, he tries to do his opening monologue in character as an alien but ends up placating an unhappy "audience member" who just wanted to hear his catchphrases — namely the first three listed above.
      • During the Cold Open after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 Presidential election, Carrey made his final appearance as Biden, attempting to be a gracious winner, but finally saying: "In every election, there has to be a winner, and... a LA-HOO-SUH-HERRRRRRR!" to raucous applause (and causing Maya Rudolph to visibly corpse).
  • Chewing the Scenery: Along with Robin Williams, Carrey was the comic actor best known for over-the-top, rapid-fire, scene-stealing humor in The '90s.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When he's not a Large Ham, he's this.
  • The Everyman: Truman Burbank is specifically raised to be this trope in The Truman Show. Peter Appleton, Bruce Nolan, Dick Harper, Carl Allen, and Tom Popper "naturally" qualify, and the events of their stories involve outside forces turning their lives upside down.
  • Face Fault: He pulled it off in live action in the film Liar Liar. After a long sequence of hiding from high-end executive types, he runs into the last person he wants to see, shouts "God in Heaven!" and collapses to the ground. He is probably the only person who will ever be able to pull off a Face Fault without it looking totally forced/awkward/just kind of stupid.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Due to his smarmy, rubber-face persona, it is easy to forget that he is a tall, dashing man. It is more evident in his Dramedy and straight drama roles — but it was also a factor in his being cast in The Mask. As director Charles Russell discusses on the Blu-Ray commentary track, he was familiar with Carrey's stand-up and sketch comedy work before seeing him on a talk show and, realizing how attractive he actually was, saw potential in casting him as a character who was both zany and a credible romantic lead.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty run them over their respective end credits (the latter has additional outtakes on its DVD), the How the Grinch Stole Christmas DVD has an outtakes reel as a bonus feature, and before any of those was the In Living Color bloopers episode, where one montage focused just on him getting the giggles during various skits.
    • Apparently, there's about 2 hours worth of footage of him from Fun with Dick and Jane torturing Jeff Garlin with a voice modifier. Though no footage has been released in full.
  • The Hyena: Jim Carrey's characters all tend to have a smarmy, nasal laugh. He added a variation in Me, Myself & Irene by making Hank give a chuckle so raspy it sounded like a dog panting.
  • Large Ham: He has a subheading under Film at the trope entry for a reason (and it was originally the first one, at that). Think Jack Lemmon turned Up to Eleven.
    • There's an image somewhere on the internet of various expressions he's made juxtaposed with various Internet memes and the uncanny resemblance he has to them.
  • Lost in Character: An infamous case with Man on the Moon. To portray the film's subject, Andy Kaufman, Carrey utilized a version of Method Acting by staying in-character as Kaufman for the entirety of the shoot; that is to say, whether the cameras were rolling or not. He effectively let Kaufman's persona take over his own for a few months, to the point where not only does he not remember a single thing he did during this period, but he also attributes his actions when in-character to Kaufman to this very day. When production wrapped up and Carrey could finally drop the Kaufman persona, he was so mentally exhausted that he felt like an Empty Shell of his former self and understandably declined to appear as Kaufman in the music video for R.E.M.'s "The Great Beyond". It's possible some of his stranger/more controversial antics post-Man on the Moon stem in part from the sheer degree to which the Kaufman persona destroyed his old state of mind...but Carrey doesn't exactly regret the experience, as he was tired of the perpetually sunny, funny persona he'd been playing as a public figure up to that point and being able to completely shed it by playing Kaufman, and reconstructing what he wanted for himself afterward, was freeing.
  • No Indoor Voice
  • People in Rubber Suits: Although many of his more eccentric/fantastical roles (Wiploc, The Mask, The Riddler, Tony Clifton, Count Olaf) required heavy makeup/costuming, playing The Grinch took this to the next level. The sheer envelopment and pain of a full-body suit and thick contact lenses made him near-impossible to work with for the first few weeks of filming. Director Ron Howard and company stood firm and managed to help him endure the process; amazingly his performance in the finished product gives no hint to how grueling the experience was for him (and it was his biggest hit up to that point).
  • Recurring Element:
    • A noticeable number of his characters are associated with the color green: the Mask, the Riddler, the Grinch, and Colonel Stars-and-Stripes. Even Doctor Robotnik gets a green costume.
    • Television! Wiploc and his cohorts Learnt English from Watching Television. Stanley Ipkiss' nature and abilities as The Mask stem from his love of vintage Looney Tunes/Tex Avery shorts. Edward Nygma's journey to supervillainy involves a device that creates 3D television images but also allows him to intercept the brainwaves of viewers. Chip Douglas was effectively raised by TV thanks to a neglectful mother, with frightening results. Truman Burbank is unknowingly raised on television. Andy Kaufman becomes a national star on television and leverages fame into increasingly wild performance art that plays with the medium. Bruce Nolan is a local television reporter. Steve Gray is a Stage Magician/extreme stunt performer with his own cable TV show. Jeff Piccirillo is a children's show host.
    • Quite a few of his characters have or end up with alter egos of some kind — a secret identity, a role they play, etc. Even Peter in The Majestic gets amnesia, is mistaken for another person, and begins to live as them.
  • Sad Clown: He plays a secretly gloomy children's TV host in Kidding.
  • Serkis Folk: In A Christmas Carol (2009) he plays four different characters this way, and in the case of Scrooge physically represents him at five different points in his life.
  • Slapstick: The modern master of the form to the point where, shooting one scene in Fun with Dick and Jane, he fell to the ground accidentally and turned it into a joke. This included catching himself an inch from slamming his face into the ground!
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: He said it in the movie that is the Trope Namer. And again before that.
  • Stand-Up Comedy: He was already well established in this niche before his breakthrough on to TV and film later on.
  • Starring Special Effects: When the title character in The Mask is unleashed, his appearance and powers are realized via a combination of (Oscar-nominated) computer-generated effects and a heavily-made-up Carrey's own physical abilities.
  • The Trickster: Starting with Ace Ventura, this is Carrey's most common character archetype (with The Everyman coming in second), especially as subtropes. Some are actually empowered into it as part of the story.
  • The Tooth Hurts: He lost a chunk from one of his front teeth in a childhood bicycle accident. He usually wears a cap over it, but removed it for Dumb and Dumber as the damaged tooth fit the character.
  • What Could Have Been: Carrey auditioned twice for SNL during the early-to-mid 1980s (first for Jean Doumanian's 1980-1981 season and again in 1985-1986 when Lorne Michaels came back after The New Show on ABC was a failure. The first time, Charles Rocket was chosen; the second time, Carrey was scared off by a man Driven to Suicide and he was replaced with Randy Quaid).


Video Example(s):


Dr. Robotnik

Jim Carrey is clearly having the time of his life bringing Robotnik to the big screen, combining his penchant for loud and manic characters with the already bombastic nature of the source character. Whether it's him dancing while preparing his vehicles, to screaming about his love of lattes with steamed Austrian goat milk, his portrayal is definitely one to be remembered. Then there's the moment Robotnik has a Freak Out, complete with exaggerated movements, after Sonic destroys his robots on the highway.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilIsHammy

Media sources: