"Somebody stop me!"
Jim Carrey is a colorful actor with a face for molding and often plays the central or main character in a show. 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, most famously Fire Marshall Bill.
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 films 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 don't do as well because he is not in it. This is because after Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was such a huge flop in comparison to the original, he pledged never to do a sequel again.
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 stand-up comedy, Carrey reportedly wrote himself a check for almost $1,000,000 and promised himself that he would, one day, be able to cash it. That promise was fulfilled soon after his performance in The Mask and Dumb and Dumber, though by that point, he had already earned several orders of magnitude more than the check itself was worth.
Roles of Note:
- Ace Ventura - Ace Ventura series (First and second films of franchise - a rarity; apparently he was so unhappy with the experience he decided to forgo sequels from that point onward.)
- Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask - The Mask (First film of franchise)
- Lloyd Christmas - Dumb and Dumber (First film of franchise)
- Edward Nygma/The Riddler - Batman Forever (Third film of franchise)
- Chip Douglas - The Cable Guy
- Fletcher Reede - Liar Liar
- Truman Burbank - The Truman Show (won the Golden Globe for Best Actor- Drama)
- Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton - Man on the Moon (won the Golden Globe for Best Actor- Comedy)
- Charlie and Hank - Me Myself and Irene
- The Grinch - How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Peter Appleton - The Majestic (Notable in that it was his first truly against-type role, though Truman and Kaufman hinted towards it.)
- Bruce Nolan - Bruce Almighty (First film of franchise)
- Joel Barish - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Count Olaf - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Walter Sparrow - The Number 23
- Horton - Horton Hears a Who!
- Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come (all via Motion Capture) - A Christmas Carol (2009)
- Steven Russell - I Love You Phillip Morris
- Adam Westing and Self-Deprecation: He's often poked fun at his goofy/LargeHam 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 another performer played Jim Carrey. "Stewart" is appalled by "Carrey" ("Smoke a lot of dope, do you son?") and mocks him as a diva who "needs attention twenty-four hours a day!"
- 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 eight-year-old son has discovered that his father can't lie, and is asking Carrey if various parenting cliches 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.
- 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!Conan acts as if he holds a grudge against the actor. At the three-minute mark, Carrey!Conan makes fun of the facial contortions and catchphrases of Ace Ventura and The Mask.
- Black Comedy - The Cable Guy, in which his character turns out to be a stalker.
- Catch Phrase - Many, especially as he became an A-list star.
- "Let me show ya somethin'!" (In Living Color)
- "Alrighty then!" (Ace Ventura)
- "Sssssssssssmokin'!" (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 if I don't see ya - good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" (The Truman Show)
- 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 several clips of him saying it presented in quick succession, implying that -- at least to Andy -- he isn't making progress as an artist despite his popularity and his character isn't much more than the catchphrase.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fake American: He's actually from Ontario, Canada, though he is a naturalized American with dual citizenship.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: He cannot be scripted. He cannot be directed. He can only be aimed.
- 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.
- Large Ham: He has a subheading under Film at the trope entry for a reason (and the first one, at that).
- Playing Against Type: He played a variety of both comic and serious roles prior to becoming an A-lister and thus identified only with comedies. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Number 23 are his most deliberate attempts to play against type since then.
- Don't forget The Majestic.
- Slapstick: The modern master of the form. To the point where, during one scene in Fun with Dick and Jane, where he fell to the ground accidentally, he turned it into a joke. This included catching himself an inch from slamming his face into the ground.
- Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes
- Type I: Lloyd Christmas, Charlie, and Stanley Ipkiss.
- Type III: Ace Ventura.
- Type IV: The Mask and Dick.
- Type V: Hank.
- Smite Me Oh Mighty Smiter: He's was the one who said it in the movie that is the Trope Namer. Twice.
- Stand Up Comedy
- Star-Making Role: Ace Ventura. And as luck would have it, immediately followed by the Mask and Lloyd.
- The first actor to headline three #1-opening movies in one year. And he did it in his first three movies as a mainstream film actor. How about Star Making Year?
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: His movies can put you in a good mood really quick.
- Trickster Archetype: Characters who qualify as this include Ace Ventura, the Mask, the Riddler, Andy Kaufman, and the Grinch. Word of God even said that the Frankie from One Piece is based on him.
- On a similar note, a lot of Sokka's facial expressions are based off Jim.
- What Could Have Been: Carrey was originally supposed to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live when the original cast left in 1980 and Jean Doumanian was hired to create a new "Not Ready for Primetime" cast for the sixth season. Considering how terrible the 1980-1981 season was and how most of the cast has faded into obscurity, it was probably a good thing he wasn't picked.
- Plus, the Wachowski Brothers wanted to play Plastic Man in the never-made film based on their script. Which, even if the script was kinda crappy, would STILL have been epic.
- He almost didn't do Ace Ventura because he didn't care for the script. He only said yes after they allowed him to work on the script.