Somehow, for more than 20 years, Jim Carrey has managed to stay on everyone’s radar. Whether he’s playing it goofy, edgy or heartbreakingly honestly, he will surely go down as one of the greatest comic actors of this generation. To say he’s had an interesting life off-screen would be heinous understatement, and these stories may well make you see him in a whole new light. Alrighty then.
20. He wore tap shoes to bed as a kid
Carrey wasn’t born into the most comfortable family life, and although they struggled to make ends meet for much his childhood, his drive to be an entertainer was present even then. In fact, he actually went to bed in his tap shoes, just in case he needed to cheer them up during the night.
19. He once wrote a check for $10 million for himself
We all have our methods of motivation, but Carrey decided to try and get the laws of time and space on his side. In 1985, when he was struggling to make a name for himself, he wrote himself a check for $10 million, post-dated for 10 years later. By the time 1995 rolled around, he was on his second Ace Ventura film, for which he was paid a cool $15 mill. Anyone else desperately trying to find their checkbook now?
18. He went on a Twitter rant against gun owners, and then apologized for calling them names
Carrey is an outspoken pacifist, and he’s been particularly vocal about his dislike of gun ownership in the US. On several occasions, he’s ranted about it on Twitter, but in a bizarre twist in 2013 he apologized to assault rifle owners for calling them names, whilst assuring everyone that his stance on the issue was unchanged.
17. He learned guitar and basic Korean to prepare for Yes Man
Carrey is known to take his roles very seriously, and Yes Man was no exception. Much like the character in the film, he had to get to grips with a lot of new things. Most notably, he worked very hard to improve guitar so he could play for real in the film, and took Korean lessons for 10 weeks.
16. He came up with one of Dumb and Dumber’s funniest moments by himself
Dumb and Dumber was one of Carrey’s early breakout roles, and it’s insanely quotable. One of the most fondly remember moments involved Carrey’s Lloyd making the ‘most annoying sound in the world’. Carrey improvised the line, and the noise, which is why Jeff Daniels winces when he hears it, he had no idea it was coming.
15. He never broke character while filming Man on the Moon
One of Carrey’s most amazing early performances was as comedian Andy Kaufman (and his alter ego Tony Clifton) in Man on the Moon. During filming, Carrey never broke character, to the point where he was thrown out of the cafeteria while assuming the guise of the violent and disruptive Clifton persona.
14. He sent his resume to the Carol Burnett Show when he was 10
Carrey probably danced his way out of the womb, given how quickly his love for entertaining took over. At 10 years old, he sent a copy of his (presumably pretty thin) resume to the Carol Burnett Show. He finally ended up working with her on Horton Hears a Who in 2008.
13. He saved the visual effects team on The Mask some money
At the time, The Mask was a major undertaking for the visual effects wizards at Industrial Light and Magic. Their lives were made easier when Carrey was cast though, as his facial movements were so dynamic and cartoonish that less enhancement was required.
12. He briefly lived in a VW campervan
To the more wanderlust-stricken, living in a campervan – especially the classic VW – might sound like a dream come true. For Carrey, it was a necessity. When his family fell on hard times, they moved out of their cramped accommodation and into the camper, not long before Carrey started pursuing his career in comedy.
11. He wrote letters to Tupac to cheer him up in prison
Tupac had started out in life as an aspiring actor, and he was a big fan of Jim Carrey. While Pac was in prison, Carrey wrote him letters in a bid to help him laugh and stay positive.
10. He once had a very peculiar novelty license plate
It’s hard to imagine Carrey as a biker, but he did buy a Harley Davidson, with a personalised license plate. Not just any plate, though, Carrey had ‘NO TAG’ printed on it, which is what police officers write on the ticket when a speeding car has no plates. As a result, he got a lot of other people’s speeding fines.
9. He wore a yellow polyester suit to his first stand-up gig
The yellow zoot suit Carrey wears in The Mask is legendary now, but weirdly enough it was far from the first time he’d donned one to perform. In fact, for his first ever show on a professional stage in Toronto, he wore a yellow polyester suit which his mother had picked, assuring him that they were all the rage. Imagine his surprise when he was the only person in the room wearing one.
8. He and former partner Jenny McCarthy spoofed a paparazzi shot
Jim Carrey is no stranger to being papped, but he handles it well. In 2008, after being shot walking on the beach with his then partner Jenny McCarthy, so he swapped outfits with her, donning her bathing suit, and stepped onto the beach again.
7. The ‘claw’ routine from Liar Liar is based on something his Dad used to do
Liar Liar starts out on an adorable note as Carrey’s Fletcher amuses his son by turning his hand in ‘the claw’. This routine not only came from Carrey, but he based it on something his father would do with him as a child.
6. He used to prank his sister at inappropriate times
Childhood was when Carrey fell in love with physical comedy, and one of his earliest obsessions was Cato, the ambush-prone butler from the Pink Panther films. At one point, while emulating the character, Carrey snuck up on his older sister while she was having sex with his brother-in-law.
5. He was so impressed with the Truman Show script that he took a lower pay rate
Jim Carrey doesn’t come cheap. Even in early roles like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber he was taking home $7 million. By the time The Truman Show rolled around in 1998 he was taking home $20 million per role, but he reduced his fee to 12 for it because he was so enamoured with the screenplay.
4. He’s on a postage stamp in Canada
Carrey’s Canadian heritage might be a surprise to some, but they’re very proud of it over there. In fact, they’re so proud of it that he actually featured in a limited run of stamps featuring great Canadian comedians. Yup, you read that right.
3. When he was 15 he worked as a janitor to support his family
When the going got rough for the Carrey family, everyone had to chip in. At 15, Carrey had to forsake his school life and work as a janitor so that they had enough money to stay afloat.
2. He used to do stand-up routines for his classmates
Before hitting the stand-up circuit for real, Carrey practised on his fellow students. At junior high school Carrey’s teachers let him perform for his fellow students at the end of the day, presumably so he didn’t do it during lessons.
1. He was intimidated by Kate Winslet while working on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is regarded by some as Carrey’s finest dramatic role. It was likely a huge challenge for him, not least because co-star Kate Winslet gave him the willies. He stated that it was exciting to work with her because she scared him.