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James Eugene Carrey is a Canadian-American actor, comedian, writer, and producer who was born in the United States of America. He is best known for his high-octane comedy performances. When Carrey landed a recurring part on the American sketch comedy television series In Living Color (1990–1994), he first gained widespread attention.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber were among the films in which he made his debut as a movie star (all 1994). Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Batman Forever, and Liar Liar were all released in 1995, with Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls being the first (1997).
The 2000s brought him further recognition for his portrayal of the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the comedy Me, Myself & Irene (both in 2000).
He also appeared in Bruce Almighty (2003), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), Yes Man, Horton Hears a Who! (2008), and A Christmas Carol.
In the 2010s, Carrey participated in the films Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), Kick-Ass 2 (2014), Dumb and Dumber To (2015), and Dumb and Dumber To (2016), as well as the sitcom 30 Rock, where he played Leap Day William (2012).
Following his performance as Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog, he went on to appear in six episodes of Saturday Night Live, when he played Vice President Joe Biden in the run-up to the 2020 United States Presidential election.
Despite being mostly known as a humorous actor, Carrey has found success in dramatic roles as well. His first major dramatic breakthrough came as a result of his performance in the Emmy-nominated made-for-television film Doing Time on Maple Drive (2001). (1992). Carrey first came to public recognition for his main parts in the films The Truman Show (1998) and Man on the Moon (1999), for which he received Golden Globe nominations.
The following year, Carrey starred in the psychological science fiction romantic drama film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), for which he has been hailed as one of the most important and seminal performances of his career, and for which he was nominated for both the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and a second Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
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Additionally, he received attention for his dramatic performance as Jeff Piccirillo in the Showtime tragicomedy series Kidding, for which he was nominated for a second Golden Globe Award.
In a recent article in The Guardian, he was considered one of the best performers who has never been nominated for an Academy Award.
A children’s story named How Roland Rolls, written by Carrey in 2013, was nominated for a Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Honor and won the award the following year.
Memory and Misinformation, which Carrey co-wrote with Dana Vachon and was released in 2020, was Carrey’s first novel.
Carrey’s parents, Kathleen (née Oram), a homemaker, and Percy Carrey, a musician, and accountant, raised him in the Toronto suburb of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and he has three older siblings, John, Patricia, and Rita, who are all teachers.
His mother was of French, Irish, and Scottish ancestry, and his father was of French-Canadian background (the family’s original surname was Carré). He was raised by his mother and father in a Catholic household.
At the age of eight, he began practicing his impressions in front of a mirror and discovered that he had a natural gift for them.
A letter by Carrey to Carol Burnett of the Carol Burnett Show, stating that he was already an expert in impressions and that he should be considered for a job on the show, was received with delight; he was pleased when he received a form letter response.
After becoming a fan of Monty Python in the 1970s and appearing on his television show in the 1980s, Carrey made an appearance on the HBO special Monty Python’s Best Bits (Mostly) in 2014, where he recalled the effect on him of Ernest Scribbler (played by Michael Palin) laughing himself to death in the sketch “The Funniest Joke in the World.” According to the Radio Times, “You’ll see why right away: Palin’s portrayal is uncannily Carreyesque.”
Carrey grew up in the municipality of Scarborough, Ontario, which is a part of the Greater Toronto Area. He attended Blessed Trinity Catholic Elementary School in North York, where he received his early education. His family eventually relocated to Burlington, Ontario, where they would reside for the next eight years, during which time Jim attended Aldershot High School.
A short time later, his family became homeless and lived together in a Volkswagen van, while Jim and his brother, who were then teenagers, spent months living in a tent at Charles Daley Park, on the shore of Lake Ontario in Lincoln, Ontario, while their parents worked to support them.
The family was struggling financially at the time, but things began to improve once his father obtained work in the accounting department of the Titan Wheels tyre factory in Scarborough, Ontario.
The family would also work as janitors and security guards at the tyre plant in exchange for living in the house across the street from the factory, working eight-hour shifts from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning in exchange for living in the house across the street from the factory.
In Scarborough, Jim began attending Agincourt Collegiate Institute when he was sixteen years old, and he dropped out of school on his sixteenth birthday. While continuing to work at the factory, he began to perform stand-up comedy in downtown Toronto to supplement his income.
In a 2007 interview with the Hamilton Spectator, Carrey stated, “If my show business career hadn’t worked out, I’d probably be working in the Dofasco steel plant in Hamilton, Ontario, right now.” During his formative years, he could see the steel mills across the Burlington Bay and frequently thought to himself, “that’s where the great jobs were.”
Carrey’s first stand-up comedy experience occurred in 1977 when he was 15 years old when his father attempted to assist the youngster in putting together a stage act by driving him to downtown Toronto, where he made his debut at the newly-opened Yuk Yuk’s comedy club, which operated one night a week out of the basement of a community center on Church Street at the time.
His mother chose his costume for the performance, which was a polyester leisure suit, based on the reasoning that “that’s how they dress on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.”
The pubescent Carrey’s traditional impersonations failed miserably, demonstrating unsuited for a club with a filthy Belushiesque humorous sensibility and giving the youngster reason to doubt his ability to make a living as a professional performing entertainment.
Yuk Yuk’s owner, Mark Breslin, recalled the young Carrey’s stand-up debut decades later and described it as “awful Rich Little” in his words. His family’s financial difficulties made it impossible for them to support Carrey’s aspirations in the entertainment industry.
Finally, their financial condition improved, and they were able to purchase a new home in Jackson’s Point neighborhood.
When Carrey returned to the stage in 1979, he did so with a more polished act, which led to his first paid performance: a 20-minute set at the Hay Loft club on Highway 48 in Scarborough for a reported C$20 compensation, which was part of a bill with the Mother of Pearl performer from The Pig and Whistle.
In the end, he braved his concerns and returned to the scene of his failure two years earlier—Yuk Yuk’s, which had since relocated to a permanent home on Bay Street in the upscale Yorkville district—to confront his mistakes. In a short period of time, the seventeen-year-old went from performing at open-mic evenings at the club to performing regularly for a fee, establishing a solid name for himself.
Parallel to his growing reputation as an impressionist stand-up comedian in the Toronto area, Carrey attempted to break into sketch comedy by applying for a role on NBC’s Saturday Night Live during the 1980–81 season. Jean Doumanian, the show’s new executive producer, passed over Carrey when he was a teenager and chose thirty-one-year-old Charles Rocket in his place. Carrey would go on to host the show three more times, in May 1996, January 2011, and October 2014, after establishing himself as a successful Hollywood movie star.
After being passed over for a spot on Saturday Night Live, Carrey found work as a voice actor, delivering Clutch Cargo-inspired pieces on The All-Night Show, a nighttime program that airs locally on the CFMT-TV channel, which stands for Canadian Multilingual Television (MTV).
As a result of his continued success performing his stand-up act of contortionist impressions in the city of Toronto and surrounding towns, Carrey was booked as an opening act for the rock band Goddo at The Roxy Theater in Barrie, Ontario, for two shows on consecutive nights in February 1981. The rock crowd booed him offstage, and he refused to return for the second night.
However, two weeks after the initial publication of the article, a review of one of Carrey’s restaurants, Yuk Yuk’s, appeared on the front page of the Toronto Star’s entertainment section, along with a large photo of him performing a stage impression of Sammy Davis Jr. The writer Bruce Blackadar gushed about “a genuine star coming to life.”
Except for a brief mention in the Barrie Examiner, it was the first time Carrey had significant mainstream corporate media attention, and the effusive praise he received in one of Canada’s most widely read newspapers fueled demand for his impressionist stand-up act across the country.
In April 1981, he made a guest appearance on an edition of the television stand-up show An Evening at the Improv Introducing… Janet premiered on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in September 1981 and drew more than a million viewers for its initial broadcast in Canada. That summer, he got one of the lead roles in the made-for-TV film Introducing… Janet.
It was Carrey’s very first acting performance, in which he played a struggling impressionist comic named Tony Maroni. The exposure the film received on CBC and the subsequent high nationwide viewership helped to further establish the youngster’s comedic status in the country; by the time the film finished its CBC run of repeats several years later, the title of its home video release on VHS had been changed to Rubberface in order to capitalize on the comic’s by then established prominence for performing elaborate contortionist impressions.
After making additional appearances at comedy clubs across the United States, Carrey was soon recognized by comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who hired the young comic to begin his tour shows across the country. By December 1981, a well-known Canadian comic, the Toronto Star, reported on the teenager who was waiting for a work permit in the United States, having earned interest from Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, partly because of his Canadian reputation as a stand-up comedian.
In 1982, after touring venues across North America as the opening act for Rodney Dangerfield, Carrey made a triumphant return to his hometown of Toronto, where he performed two sold-out gigs at Massey Hall on June 19, 1982.
In the spring of 1983, Carrey made the decision to permanently relocate to Hollywood, where he began performing frequently at The Comedy Store. Getting on The Tonight Show became his immediate career goal, and by the spring of 1983, he appeared to have accomplished it after being booked for a stand-up set on the highly-rated late-night show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The Improv, on the other hand, turned him down after a lackluster club set.
Despite his inability to duplicate his success in Los Angeles, Carrey continued to be a major hit in his hometown of Toronto, where he returned in late April 1983 to perform on three consecutive nights at the short-lived B.B. Magoon’s theatrical theater on Bloor Street. While in town, Carrey was the subject of a segment on CTV’s main news magazine show W5, which broadcast nationally in Canada.
After returning to Los Angeles, he secured the lead part in The Duck Factory, a sitcom now in development for NBC, and, in late November 1983, he was still able to premiere his impressionist performance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Johnny Carson made a promotional appearance for the sitcom that is about to begin airing nationwide in the United States on the same network, and he was in attendance.
In the meanwhile, he was cast in a supporting part in the US$7 million Warner Bros. comedy Finders Keepers, which was filmed in the Canadian state of Alberta during the late summer of 1983.
In the meantime, he was cast in a supporting role in the US$7 million Warner Bros. The 21-year-old Carrey went through his most popular impressions in rapid succession for his Tonight Show appearance, which aired on Thanksgiving Day in the United States. He performed as 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.
When the impressionist comic had finished his set, he was not waved over by Carson to join him on the sofa, which is a common indication that the powerful host was satisfied but not blown away by the performance. Carrey returned to his hometown of Toronto at the end of 1983 for a well-publicized New Year’s Eve performance in the Imperial Room of the Royal York Hotel, which was shown live on television.
The Duck Factory, a sitcom that was originally set to premiere in January 1984, made its debut in April, running Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. between Cheers and Hill Street Blues on NBC.
As part of his hosting duties for the 1984 U-Know Awards presentation, which took place in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel’s Ballroom, Carrey was hired the next month.
In late July 1984, Carrey made his television debut on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman, but by that time, the network had already canceled The Duck Factory, and Carrey returned to touring with his impressionist act, which included many appearances as an opening act for Rodney Dangerfield.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, in which Carrey portrayed the lead role, was released in February 1994 and went on to gross $72 million in the United States and Canada. Carrey was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.
Upon its success and before the release of his next film, The Mask, which was expected to be another hit, Morgan Creek Productions offered 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. He also received $7 million to appear in Dumb and Dumber, which was nearly tenfold his salary for Ace Ventura.
The Mask, which was released in July 1994 and made $351 million worldwide, was a hit film.
In addition, the comedy Dumb and Dumber, which was released in December 1994, was a commercial triumph, grossing over $270 million worldwide.
Carrey was nominated for his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Mask, and he was ranked second on Quigley’s list of the Top Ten Money-Making Stars, just behind Tom Hanks, for his work in the film.
Carrey was cast in the role of Dr. Robotnik, the main antagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series, in a film based on the video game trademark in June of this year. The film was released in February 2020 to overwhelmingly good critical reception.
Audiences and critics alike applauded Carrey’s portrayal of Robotnik; some even called it one of his best performances in recent years. Carrey mentioned in an interview that he would be interested in reprising his role as Robotnik in the future, which is in contrast to his usual aversion to returning for sequels.
Memoirs and Misinformation, a collection of Carrey’s writings, was published in 2020.
In September, during the final stages of the 2020 United States Presidential Election, it was announced that Carrey would portray Vice President Joe Biden on the 46th season of Saturday Night Live, replacing Jason Sudeikis, Woody Harrelson, and John Mulaney in the role previously held by Sudeikis, Harrelson, and Mulaney.
As a result of the contrast between Carrey’s high-energy comic style and the real-life Biden’s low-key attitude, the result was an imitation that was unauthentic and failed to impress both viewers and critics.
Carrey revealed on December 19, 2020, that he would be stepping down from his role as Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday Night Live, noting that he had a six-week deal.
Carrey was replaced by current cast member Alex Moffat in the role of Biden during the cold open of the show hosted by Kristen Wiig on the same day as the program aired.
In the upcoming studio album Dawn FM, by Canadian musician The Weeknd, Carrey appears as the narrator. Dawn FM is set to be released on January 7, 2022.
Jim Carrey Relationships
Jim Carrey was in a relationship with singer Linda Ronstadt for eight months in 1983. In his personal life, Carrey has had two marriages. Melissa Womer, a former actress, and waiter at the Comedy Store was the subject of his first marriage, which took place on March 28, 1987. Jane Erin Carrey, their daughter, was born on September 6, 1987, in New York City.
Jane was a participant in the sixth season of American Idol in 2012. Carrey and Womer divorced in 1995 after seven years of marriage.
Lauren Holly, Carrey’s Dumb and Dumber co-star, tied the knot on September 23, 1996, for a marriage that lasted less than a year.
Renée Zellweger, Carrey’s co-star in the film Me, Myself, and Irene, was engaged to Carrey from 1999 to 2000. In 2002, January Jones was involved with Carrey on a romantic level. Carrey began dating model and actress Jenny McCarthy in 2005, and the couple announced their romance in June 2006. In April 2010, the two decided to call it quits on their relationship. McCarthy stated in October 2010 that they were still excellent friends with each other.
The actor met Cathriona White in 2012, a makeup artist from County Tipperary, Ireland, through a mutual friend. They belonged to the period between 2012 and 2015. White was discovered dead on September 28, 2015, from an overdose of prescription medication; the death was deemed a suicide by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner. During her funeral service in Cappawhite, County Tipperary, Ireland, Carrey served as a pallbearer.
In January 2019, Carrey and his new girlfriend Ginger Gonzaga attended the Golden Globes 2019 Party in Beverly Hills.
After less than a year of dating, the couple decided to call it quits.
Jim Carrey Wife Melissa Womer
During their marriage from 1987 to 1995, Carrey and the actress had a daughter, Jane, who they shared.
Jim Carrey Wife Lauren Holly
Despite getting married in 1996, the Dumb and Dumber co-stars divorced less than a year after they were married.