Carrey has also achieved critical success in dramatic roles in films such as The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Yes Man and I Love You Phillip Morris.
Early lifeCarrey was born in Newmarket, Ontario, the son of Kathleen, a homemaker, and Percy Carrey, a musician and accountant. He has three older siblings, John, Patricia, and Rita. The family was Catholic and of part French Canadian ancestry (as the original surname was Carré).
After his family moved to Scarborough, Ontario when Carrey was 14, he attended the Blessed Trinity Catholic School in North York for two years, enrolled at Agincourt Collegiate Institute, Scarborough’s oldest high school for another year, then briefly attended Northview Heights Secondary School for the remainder of his high school career (altogether, he spent three years in grade 10).
Carrey lived in Burlington, Ontario, for eight years and attended Aldershot High School. In a Hamilton Spectator interview (February 2007), Carrey remarked, “If my career in show business hadn’t panned out I would probably be working today in Hamilton, Ontario at the Dofasco steel mill.”
In 1979, under the management of Leatrice Spevack, Carrey started doing stand-up comedy at Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto, where he rose to become a headliner in February 1981, shortly after his 19th birthday. One reviewer in the Toronto Star raved that Carrey was “a genuine star coming to life.”
In the early 1980’s, Carrey moved to Los Angeles and started working at The Comedy Store, where he was noticed by comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield liked Carrey’s performance so much that he signed Carrey to open Dangerfield’s tour performances.
Carrey then turned his attention to the film and television industries, auditioning to be a cast member for the 1980–1981 season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Carrey was not selected for the position at that time although he did host the show in May 1996.
Joel Schumacher had him audition for a role in D.C. Cab, though in the end, nothing ever came of it.
His first lead role on television was Skip Tarkenton, a young animation producer on NBC’s short-lived The Duck Factory, airing from April 12, 1984, to July 11, 1984, and offering a behind-the-scenes look at the crew that produced a children’s cartoon.
Carrey continued working in smaller film and television roles, which led to a friendship with fellow comedian Damon Wayans, who co-starred with Carrey as a fellow extraterrestrial in 1989’s Earth Girls Are Easy.
When Wayans’ brother, Keenen, began developing a sketch comedy show for Fox called In Living Color, Carrey was hired as a cast member, whose unusual characters included masochistic safety inspector Fire Marshall Bill (whose dangerous “safety tips” were the target of censors and watchdog groups who saw the character as a dangerous example for naive younger viewers), and masculine female bodybuilder Vera de Milo.
His on-screen antics caught the eye of Hollywood.
FilmsCarrey made his film debut in Rubberface (1983), which was released as Introducing … Janet. Later that year, he won the leading role in Damian Lee’s Canadian skiing comedy Copper Mountain, which included his impersonation of Sammy Davis Jr. Since the film had a less than one hour runtime consisting largely of musical performances by Rita Coolidge and Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, it was not considered a genuine feature film.
A few years later, Carrey saw his first major starring role in the dark comedy Once Bitten, in the role of Mark Kendall, a teen virgin pursued by a 400-year old female vampire (played by Lauren Hutton).
After supporting roles in films such as Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), and The Dead Pool (1988), Carrey did not experience true stardom until starring in the 1994 comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which premiered only months before In Living Color ended. The film was panned by critics, and earned Carrey a 1995 Golden Raspberry Award nomination as Worst New Star.
However, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was a huge commercial success, as were his two other starring roles from that year: The Mask and Dumb and Dumber.
In 1995, Carrey appeared as the Riddler in Batman Forever and reprised his role as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Both films were successful at the box office and earned Carrey multi-million-dollar paychecks.
Carrey earned $20 million for his next film, The Cable Guy (directed by Ben Stiller), a record sum for a comedy actor. The attention drawn to the paycheck, coupled with some negative reviews, and the film’s dark sensibility, all contributed to the film’s mediocre earnings. Carrey then quickly rebounded with the successful (and lighter) Liar Liar, a return to his trademark comedy style.
Carrey took a chance (and a slight pay cut) to play a more serious role to star in The Truman Show (1998), a change of pace that led to forecasts of Academy Award nominations. Although the movie was nominated for three awards, Carrey did not personally receive a nomination, leading him to joke that “it’s an honor just to be nominated … oh no,” during his appearance on the Oscar telecast.
However, for his performance in The Truman Show, Carrey did win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama and an MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance. That same year, Carrey appeared as a fictionalized version of himself on the final episode of Garry Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show, making an impression by ripping deliberately into Shandling’s character.
In 1999, Carrey won the role of comedian Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. Other actors, including Edward Norton, were interested in the role, but Carrey’s audition, including an act with the bongo drums Kaufman used in his performances, helped him to be cast as Kaufman.
Despite critical acclaim for the role, he was not nominated for an Academy Award, but again won a Best Actor Golden Globe award for the second consecutive year.
In 2000, Carrey reteamed with the Farrelly Brothers, who had directed him in Dumb and Dumber, in their comedy, Me, Myself & Irene, about a state trooper with multiple personalities who romances a woman played by Renée Zellweger. The film grossed $24 million on its opening weekend and $90 million by the end of its domestic run.
In 2003, Carrey reteamed with Tom Shadyac for the financially successful comedy Bruce Almighty. Earning over $242 million in the U.S. and over $484 million worldwide, this film became the second highest grossing live-action comedy of all time.
His performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004 earned high praise from critics, who again predicted that Carrey would receive an Oscar nomination. That didn’t happen but the film did win for Best Original Screenplay, and costar Kate Winslet received an Oscar nomination for her performance. Carrey was however nominated for a sixth Golden Globe for his performance in the film.
In 2004, he played the villainous character Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was based on the popular children’s novels of the same name.
In 2005, Carrey starred in a remake of Fun with Dick and Jane, playing Dick, a husband who loses his job after his company goes bankrupt.
In 2007, Carrey reunited with Joel Schumacher, director of Batman Forever, for The Number 23, 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.
In 2008, Carrey made two films. He spoke for the elephant Horton in Horton Hears a Who!, an animated movie based on Dr. Seuss’s book, and he portrays the gay Steven Russell in the remarkable life story I Love You Phillip Morris.
Coming up are two films, A Christmas Carol, which is based on the well known book by Charles Dickens and Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which is based on Robert Ripley’s life.
Carrey has stated that he finds the prospect of reprising a character to be considerably less enticing than taking on a new role. The only time he has reprised a role was with Ace Ventura. (Sequels to Bruce Almighty, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask have all been released without Carrey’s involvement.)
Despite having a 20-year career with no Academy Award nominations, Jack Nicholson (who in the first 20 years of his career had five) has named Carrey the “Jack Nicholson” of the next generation.
Personal lifeCarrey has been married twice, first to former actress and Comedy Store-waitress Melissa Womer, with whom he has a daughter, Jane Erin Carrey (b. September 6, 1987 in Los Angeles County). They were married on March 28, 1987, and were officially divorced in late 1995.
After his separation from Womer, Carrey began dating his Dumb and Dumber co-star Lauren Holly. They were married on September 23, 1996 but the marriage lasted less than a year.
Carrey then dated actress Renée Zellweger, whom he met on the set of Me, Myself & Irene, but their relationship ended in a broken engagement in December 2000. During 2004, Carrey dated his massage therapist Tiffany O. Silver.
In the May 2006 issue of Playboy Magazine (p. 48), it was mentioned that he has dated model Anine Bing.
In December 2005, Carrey began dating actress/model Jenny McCarthy but they did not make their relationship public until June 2006. She announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on April 2, 2008 that the two are now living together, but have no plans to marry, as they do not need a “piece of paper.”
Carrey has a chipped tooth; for his role in Dumb and Dumber, he simply removed the tooth cap.
Carrey is a vegetarian.
He attended a Presbyterian Church with his family in the early 1990s.
His favorite band is death metal band Cannibal Corpse, who made a cameo appearance in Ace Ventura.
Carrey received U.S. citizenship on October 7, 2004, and now maintains dual citizenship of the U.S. and his native Canada, where he has had a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto since 1998.
He went public about his bouts with depression in a November 2004 interview on 60 Minutes.
Carrey has also made calls to the public, by way of Internet videos, to try to bring attention to the political suppression in Burma, especially of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he describes as a hero of his.