A&E BIOGRAPHY - Jim Carrey
is copyright 1998, The A&E Television Network
"Jim Carrey: The Joker's Wild" is copyright 1996, Paramount Pictures Inc.
by Paramount Pictures Corporation for A&E Network)
Transcript by Donna Bain
His career moves have been smart and smarter. Much like Jerry Lewis before him, Jim Carrey mastered stand-up comedy, television, and movies and then challenged himself to far more serious roles. In his latest film, this summer's The Truman Show, Jim Carrey demonstrated that he is far more than just another funny face. In fact, he is among the world's highest paid actors, able to command $20 million a movie. His status as a box office sure-thing is, perhaps, the unlikeliest role of all for the Canadian who dropped out of high school to work in a factory. Carrey later faced severe personal setbacks on his trajectory to stardom, two failed marriages, and the loss of both his parents, but at the age of 36 he's reached the very top of the entertainment mountain and shows every indication of staying there.
The world knows him as the manic, irrepressible star of Batman, the Mask and the Ace Ventura movies. But Jim Carrey is far from an overnight success. His story is truly one of trial and error and laughing all the way to the bank.
As a teenager his family was so poor, his family lived in a VW bus.
JIM (speaking to cameraman): You might want to zoom in on this, Rex, because - there could be a tear.
As a struggling young performer, he made a desperate promise that drove him onward.
RITA (Jim's sister): Jim wrote a cheque to himself years ago, "for acting services rendered"
WAYNE FLEMMING (Jim's friend): $10 million. And he used to keep that cheque in his back pocket and he said, "Someday I'm going to cash that cheque."
And on the day the cheque was dated, Jim Carrey was worth 10 million dollars.
NICOLAS CAGE: It paid off. He cashed it.
Today he is the highest paid comic actor, but for Jim, it never was about the money.
CAGE: I don't think he wants it to overshadow
the work itself.
JIM (on set of Dumb & Dumber wearing a blue snowsuit and furry boots): In this scene, my legs are being consumed by two vicious malamutes.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD: Jim Carrey stepped out of a cartoon, right into life. He's like a cartoon.
CAGE: He's kind of like a human sponge.
You have to be careful what you do around him because it will wind up in
a movie. You know, he just like absorbs everything around him, which is
really what all good actors do.
JIM: (Stand-up Act): I'd like to go way back now ... throws himself backwards [as only Jim can!]
Freeze frame on Jim as Ace ... Title screen ... Jim Carrey: The Joker's Wild.
JIM (whispering): Jim. Jim. Sorry to wake you in the middle of the night but your mom and I could use a good laugh. You're on in five.
It was almost inevitable that Jim Carrey would grow up funny. Jim's father Percy Carrey was a legendary cut-up in the Carrey clan.
RITA: He was always the comedian too. Every relative I know and every person I've ever met says that my dad was just the funniest man they've ever met.
Percy Carrey had show business in his blood. He was a saxophone player who once fronted a big band in Toronto. But when he married Jim's mom, Kay, Percy gave up the band and took up accounting. Still, Percy Carrey never lost his love for performing.
RITA: I remember him playing the saxophone and clarinet when we were little kids. And when he and my mom were going out together, my mom would sing with the band and my dad would play saxophone and, you know, that's what they did.
were a close-knit and loving clan, with four children. First came sister
Pat, then brother John, and sister Rita. James Eugene Carrey, the youngest,
was born on January 17, 1962 and spent the first four years of his life
in the picturesque town of Aurora, Ontario, Canada. In one of his
earliest movie appearances, we see Jim tending to a tiny newborn niece.
Everyone in the Carrey family agrees, Jim must have inherited a comedy
gene from his naturally funny father, because even as youngster, little
Jim was a cut up.
RITA: He had this little white mouse that he used to like to let go because it would freak my mom out (laughs). And it would run around the house and she'd be screaming and we'd have to chase it in the middle of the night because - oh, the mouse go loose. My mom hated that mouse.
At about the age of 8 or 9, young Jim discovered he had a talent for making faces. He would lock himself in his room and practice mugging in his mirror for hours on end. Twelve years later, it was part of his stage act.
JIM (at Comedy Store, Los Angeles, 1983, during act): I think I spent most of my entire life looking in the mirror. It's true. But I haven't been staring at me, I've been staring at - Leonid Breschnev! (facial impression) Jack Nicholson! (impression) E.T. the extra terrestrial (impression).
It seems like Jim was always destined to be a performer, but when Jim was 13, a catastrophe struck the Carrey household that would affect his entire life. Jim's dad, Percy Carrey, lost his job as a controller for a company in Burlington, Ontario.
RITA: He was like 42 years old, couldn't get another job as an accountant because they wanted, you know, a younger guy, and so he was out of work, and so, you know, I took my babysitting money and gave it for groceries, my other brother John, who worked at the time, he gave his paychecks to pay whatever our bills were, you know, and that's what we did.
As the family scrambled to keep a roof over their heads, young Jim went through a personality change at school. The cheerful kid turned introspective.
DAVID CREIGHTON (Jim's English teacher): He was troubled. I think he was sensitive about the fact that his father was out of work.
Out of money and out of luck, the Carreys were soon on the move again. This time they left their home in a comfortable section of Burlington and headed for an industrial park in the town of Scarborough. Percy had taken a job as security guard at Titan Wheels, a factory that made steel rims and wheels, and as part of the deal, the Carreys got to move into a stone house right next to the factory. But the entire family had to work at the plant.
RITA: We all worked at the factory. My dad was security guard all night. I did the offices, Jim did the downstairs offices. I mean we waxed, we cleaned, we polished, we did everything: urinals, you got it, you name it, we did it. And it was hell.
For more than a year, the Carrey family worked the graveyard shift at Titan Wheels. Jim worked nights and attended high school part time. But in the ninth grade, he gave up on school altogether. He told his dad all he wanted to do was sleep. Jim's mom tried to make the best of a grim situation.
JIM FOURNIER (Jim's brother-in-law): Every Friday night, we'd go over to the factory and she'd bring over a couple dozen hot dogs and buns and we'd cook them in the microwave, cause we never had a microwave and a microwave was a big thing then, right? Jim would start doing ballet and jumping from picnic table to picnic table in the cafeteria, and we'd all have a great time.
But even the legendary Carrey humour eventually ran out of steam. There really wasn't much to cheer about at Titan Wheels.
RITA: Because we lived right there beside the factory, it was like you were always on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My mom and dad never had a holiday. They'd let us kids go away for the weekend or whatever, but they were always there, so they became bitter and hateful because they could never do anything either.
Years later, Jim would joke about his gruelling nights at Titan Wheels, but even an impressionist as great as Jim Carrey could not mask the pain.
JIM (to the cameraman): You know, you might want to zoom in on this Rex, because there could be a tear. (To interviewer): It's just, it just made me realize that you've got to do what you love to do, you know, you gotta go after whatever you love to do, cause its not worth being where you're not happy.
When they realized they couldn't go on at Titan Wheels, the Carreys quit. But quitting meant they had to leave the factory-owned house so they pitched a tent on sister Pat's lawn and lived out of an old beat up VW bus. Jim later said, it was like the Grapes of Wrath.
JIM: Thanks for bringing it up. Years of therapy down the drain. We went through hard times, my family. We kind of lived in a van for awhile and pitched a tent on my sister's lawn and you know we were like gypsies for a little awhile. Actually we were happier than we were before that when we doing jobs we didn't enjoy.
The lessons Jim learned from these years were bitter ones, but young Jim grew tough. He decided to make his way by doing what he really loved - comedy.
When Percy found work, the family moved out of the camper and into a house in Jackson's Point, two and a half hours north of Toronto. Jim was 15, holding on to his dream of making it in comedy. One night, Percy drove Jim back down into Toronto for open mike night at a comedy club.
JIM (In Living Color interview): My father actually brought me down to a place called Yuk Yuks in Toronto, first of all when I was 15 and I kind of worked up an act and we wrote it together and I got up on stage and I remember the owner of the club stood backstage with a microphone and some wonderful little sound effects going "Totally boooring, totally boring, totally boring", you know, like that, and I had one of those - what do they call them - leisure suits on and they kind of booed me out of the place.
RITA: I think he almost gave up, I really do, I think it almost shattered him and my dad is the one who said, "No, it's okay, we can change things - it's okay. You don't have to be - not everyone's going to like you."
After being heckled off the stage at Yuk Yuk's Jim was so shaken he didn't perform in public again for 2 years. His family became his audience as he and his dad polished his act, honed it, and Jim returned to Yuk Yuk's 2 years later.
MARK BRESLIN (Yuk Yuks owner): Then he came back when he was about 16 or 17 and immediately, immediately started doing very, very well with his impressions, and I can't think of very many other comics who've passed through here that got so good so quickly.
Those first comedy gigs were amateur night freebies, but it wasn't long before Jim was booked on regular shows and getting rave reviews for his remarkable impersonations.
JIM (during act, doing Elvis): I think it was about --- 30 years ago today, way back...
WAYNE FLEMMING: He was just a boy, but he knew so much. I've been in the business for years before that and all of a sudden I see this kid totally tear a room apart and polished and very classy and I just sat there, I was blown away - I have no other words for it.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD: I thought he was great and so I asked him to work with me and he would open a show which was great, and so we worked together. I forget exactly how many dates up there - it could have been 4 or 6 or 8, I'm not sure, but we worked around Canada for a few dates, then I was gong to open in Caesar Palace in Las Vegas, and so I brought him to Vegas with me, and he was happy to go to Vegas, from Canada you know -- first shot and everything else.
Jim Carrey was on his way. And no one was more proud then his dad, Percy, but with success came a difficult choice. If Jim was going to go for his dream, there was only one place he could do it - Hollywood. He made a few forays to Los Angeles, then finally moved there in 1981 when he was just 19. In Canada, he was a star, but on those early trips to the Sunset Strip, he was just another wide-eyed innocent with big dreams.
JIM: And I was completely out of my element down here because there were these hookers and stuff, people coming up to me on the street ... these women with mini-skirts ... asking me out on dates and stuff -- I thought it was Sadie Hawkins Day.
Jim didn't have to wait long for recognition in Los Angeles; at the Comedy Story he was soon knocking 'em dead with a routine he'd perfected in a thousand different club dates up north.
JIM (during act at the Comedy Store): Good evening. My name is Jim Carrey. I'm a singing comic impressionist and I'd like to start off this evening with a piece from the new punk ballet, Wounded Swan Lake (throws arm behind his head)
By the spring of 1984, Jim's incredible impersonations had taken him far. People magazine labelled him one of America's hottest young comics.
JIM (interview on The Duck Factory set): I do about 115 or 120 characters now, like Sammy Davis Jr that I do in my act, he's very extreme, he's got this (begins facial impression), you stick the bum out and you get the chin (begins voice impression) happenin' man, Rat pack, paddywack, give the dog a bone.
Jim had just made his debut on the Tonight Show and had landed the lead in a new NBC sitcom called The Duck Factory. Fresh-faced Jim Carrey talked about his new-found fame in his very first interview for Entertainment Tonight.
JIM: All my life, I've really wanted to do this, so it doesn't seem like I've been in the business for a short time. It's all I've ever wanted to do, it's all I've ever done. So it seems like I've been a veteran all my life, you know.
The Duck Factory starred Jim as an aspiring young cartoonist who lands a job at a Hollywood cartoon. But the sitcom was hardly the perfect vehicle for Carrey because he was cast as the straight man and The Duck Factory fizzled after 13 weeks.
WAYNE FLEMMING: I don't know, but I don't think they used him properly in The Duck Factory. They didn't let him go.
And there was another problem, too. When he landed The Duck Factory, Jim sent for his parents, Percy and Kay, and actually invited them to Los Angeles to live with him.
RITA: I think he thought, well, you know, mom and dad have never been anywhere. I want them to do something. And my mom was, you know, my mom and dad were movie buffs and music buffs, so for them to go to Hollywood was a dream, a total dream.
But when The Duck Factory ended, Jim found himself trying to support his mother and father while he attempted to rescue his career. To make matters worse, Kay's health was failing and she needed expensive medical attention. Jim went broke, and became deeply depressed. He had nightmares and dark fantasies. He quit performing altogether because he was so tired of doing impressions.
NICOLAS CAGE: Will you please be Sylvester Stalone again, or will you do that Bruce Stern thing again, and he finally, he just went, well, I'm gonna wind up - no offense, but I'm going to turn into Rich Little if I don't start forming my own style, you know, and so he stopped doing it.
Jim dropped out for 2 years. He spent his time going to auditions and channelling his enery into art - he created cartoon-like sculptures, liek the one he later made for his friend, Nicolas Cage.
NICOLAS CAGE (holding scultpure): This - he did this one actually of me which is starting to fall apart, he must have made this, I don't know, 10 years ago, It think it 's like a clay that he put over wire.
Jim also created
this sculture (display of sculpure of woman walking on a highwire with
groceries), The Amazing Coupon Kate Balancing Her Budget Without A Net.
It depicts his mother walking a highwire as she tries to pay the bills.
Worrying about himself and his parents finally proved to be too much. Jim
decided to send his parents back home to Canada.
RITA: It was hard for him. It was just time for him to spread his wings and do his own thing but he felt this sense of obligation to them.
In 1985, Jim Carrey landed his first co-starring role in the comedy Once Bitten. Lauren Hutton played a seductive vampire out to bag a virgin, and Jim was the object of her desire.
INTERVIEWER (off camera): What about playing a virgin? That takes a great deal of acting.
JIM: A bit of a stretch. A bit of a stretch for me but I think I can handle it. I have enough teeth for it, anyway.
NICOLAS CAGE: If you look, about 40 frames in Once Bitten, I think it was, with Lauren Hutton, he turns into Robert DeNiro for about 40 frames, it goes like that, it's so fast, that you go, 'did I really see what I think I saw?'. And if you rewind, I mean, he's Robert DeNiro.
After 2 years away from the stage, Jim decided to return to stand-up comedy.
JIM (1990 Home Video, during act): Feeling really good, tonight, REALLY good. Excellent, I just want to go, go, go!!! (emphasizing each "go" with pelvic thrust).
He threw out his entire act and started over. This time, he was determined not to do impressions. And the new Jim Carrey act was wild and improvisational. He called it "regression therapy".
JIM (during act): And now, I'd like to eat my own neck! Don't try to stop me!
JUDD APATOW: I remember seeing him one night going on stage with absolutely no material, just rambling off the top of his head.
NICOLAS CAGE: He would go onstage and sometimes he'd just die, you know. He'd take such chances. I always admired him for it. He'd just fall on his face and he'd get back up and do it again.
JIM (during act): I'd like to go way back now (throws himself backwards).
JUDD APATOW: There were nights where he would be doing badly so he would just crawl around on the stage like a cockroach, and then he would like lie in the crack between the wall and the floor and see how far in he could get, and he would do his impression of a cockroach avoiding the vacuum.
Jim started writing with fellow stand-up comedian Judd Apatow. It was during this fertile period of creative rage that Jim found his own unique comic voice by creating original characters. Fire Marshall Bill, the grotesquely disfigured pyromaniac made famous on In Living Color found his way from Jim's twisted imagination into his stage act.
JIM (during act with lighted match): Okay, I'm going to try this trick one more time, all right? But this time you guys gotta put me out.
It was during his Comedy Store days that Jim began a relationship with an aspiring actress named Melissa Womer, who waited tables at the club. They were married on March 28, 1987, and they had a baby daughter, Jane, that very same year. Fatherhood apparently brought out Jim's maternal instincts.
RITA: Oh, totally maternal. You know, it was like, they came up with the baby at Christmas time and it'd be like, change her, and do the bottle thing, and it was so bizarre to see him actually do this family stuff.
WAYNE FLEMMING: He's an amazing father. To see him and Jane together is what he really lives for.
Meanwhile, Jim pursued his movie career. In Peggy Sue Got Married, he worked with Nicolas Cage, and they became great friends.
NICOLAS CAGE: I remember thinking it would be hard for people to cast him right off the bat cause they wouldn't know what to make of him, but I always knew that once they did, that it would be an explosion, which it turned out to be.
Then Clint Eastwood got ahold of Jim's audition tape in which Jim lampooned his childhood hero. That led to his role of a psycho rock star in The Dead Pool. In the comedy Earth Girls Are Easy which starred Geena Davis. Jim and Damon Wayans played aliens and Damon introduced Jim to his brother, Keenan Ivory Wayans, who cast him in a new show for the Fox Nextwork called In Living Color.
on ILC set, Jim wearing a long nose (from The Buttmans sketch):
INTERVIEWER: Are you able to breathe with that?
JIM: With what?
INTERVIEWER: Your probuscis there.
JIM: Oh wow. You're making fun of my nose now? Wow, this is a real drag. Oh wow.
Jim was the
only white male on the show. It was a perfect place for him to stand out,
because producer Keenan Ivory Wayans was out to offend everybody equally.
Jim was happy to oblige with brilliant original characterizations, like
Fire Marshall Bill.
JIM (on ILC, as Fire Marshall Bill): Don't worry, ma'am. I am a Fire Marshall. (followed by explosion)
In 1991, Jim landed his own Showtime special, Jim Carrey's Unnatural Act. But Jim suffered a heartbreaking loss that year. Before the Showtime special aired, in November, Jim's beloved mother, Kay, passed away, a victim of kidney failure. She never saw the dizzying fame her son would acheive. As a tribute, Jim dedicated the Showtime special to the memory of Kathleen Carrey, aka, Mommsie.
RITA: He was there, when she passed away, he had flown up, and I think, she almost waited for him to be there. Yeah, it hurt him a lot, it really did, but you know, I think you get stronger, too.
By 1993, the third season for In Living Color, some of the original cast members had moved on. But Jim was doing his best work. Interviewers were asking if the show would ever be called The Jim Carrey Show.
JIM (on the set of Ace Ventura): No, it'll never be The Jim Carrey Show, that wasn't the concept.
But by then, Jim was already working on an offbeat low-budget movie about a cocky pet detective named Ace. And after Ace Ventura, nothing for Jim would ever be the same.
In the summer of 1993, Jim Carrey stepped onto the set of Ace Ventura, and started working with his costar, Courney Cox. Nobody knew quite what to expect.
JIM (on set): Either its going to be really incredibly hilarious or completely stupid. There's no in between with this movie.
The script for Ace had been shopped all over Hollywood and a few big name comedy stars had passed on it. But Jim Carrey saw it as an opportunity. He agreed to take on the lead role, but only if he could re-write it and make Ace as outlandish and over-the-edge as his stage and TV characters had been. The Ace that Jim created had hair like a cockatoo, and revelled in the kind of humour that makes 6-year olds giddy.
JIM (slow motion scene from Ace Ventura Pet Detective): I'm gonna execute a button hook pattern in super slo-mo.
NICOLAS CAGE: There's a certain natural ability that radiates out of his comedy. Take a look at this scene in Ace Ventura, when he was in the tutu and he went backwards, the slow motion.
JIM (slow motion scene): Let's see that in an instant replay.
NICOLAS CAGE: I thought, well, we're seeing something really new here.
JIM (on street, beside and Ace Ventura poster, greeting kids): Hi, how ya doing?
On the weekend
the picture opened, Jim was in Chicago to promote it. He was with his manager,
Jimmy Miller, who was tracking the results at the box office. They discovered
that the movie was turning into a monster hit.
JIMMY MILLER (Jim Carrey's manager): And so we got an incredible report on Friday night and then Saturday it just kept going up and then it dawned on everybody, it's those 6-year old children. You don't track 6- year-old kids when they walk out of a movie theatre, you don't interview a 4-year-old as he comes out, but he tells everybody else. And so by Sunday, you had kids who had seen the movie 2 and 3 times already. And by the following weekend you had kids that had seen the movie 5 times.
The over-the-edge pet detective had delighted 6-year-olds everywhere. The film took in almost 38 million dollars in 3 weeks, and eventually generated 125 million dollars in ticket sales worldwide. Overnight, Jim Carrey was a hot Hollywood talent. He didn't get an Oscar nomination, but he did get something almost as important from his dear friend, Nicolas Cage.
NICOLAS CAGE (picking up rat statue): When I found this rat, a rat with a hair lip. And when Jim hit it big with Ace Ventura, my cousin Roman, myself, and our mutual friend, Phil, decided to present him with this award, called the Obidobi Award, Award of Excellence, founded in 1994, so we gave it to him, that's this. And its something we pass around when on of us accomplishes something, and we're all proud of that person's accomplishments, and so now its back here, because, you know, whatever, and so it goes back and forth, and we've been doing that, so that's kind of the open way we encourage one another.
After Ace, Jim went on to work on The Mask, a movie aobut a mild-mannered bank teller named Stanley Ipkiss, who, through the power of the Mask, magically transforms himself into a green-faced, singing, dancing, zoot-suited Looney tune. Jim's facial coniptions were computer enhanced, but he put his own unique mark on the characters.
RITA: My dad was a lot like the Stanley Ipkiss character. Yeah, you know, we see Jim do stuff, and I go, Oh God, that's Dad. Oh God, that's Dad! It's scary.
JIM (on The Mask set, having make-up touched up, and clothes straightened): It's the make-up and wardrobe fairies!
But even before The Mask opened in theatres, New Line, the company that produced the movie, offered Jim 7 million dollars to star in their comedy, Dumb & Dumber. The guy who spent part of his teenage years living out of a bus was suddenly wealthy beyond his dreams. But for Jim, it was never about the money.
NICOLAS CAGE: He's never really come out and said this, but I don't think he likes the idea that it's plastered everywhere what he's earning. You kow, I don't think he wants it to overshadow the work itself. You know, that people are thinking money when they see him. I don't think that ever was his intention. I do think that he felt that if that cheque that he wrote to himself came true, which it did, that it would not be just money, that would also mean he could work with the best in the business.
In Dumb &
Dumber, Jim and Jeff Daniels play a couple of good-natured but dim-witted
friends who find a suitcase stuffed with cash. They are so dumb, they spend
all the loot trying to locate the suitcase's owner. The movie was shot
partially in Colorado and Utah, with Jim sporting an even uglier haircut
than he had in Ace. And showing off, for the very first time as an adult,
his chipped tooth.
JIM: No, this tooth was actually like this for about 6 years when I was a kid, and I loved it, it was my trademark. Of course, when I was about 13, Mr. Happy started talking to me, saying, "You might want to get that fixed.
There was nothing dim-witted about the marketing of the movie, which pulled in 250 million worldwide. And nothing goofy about the way Jim Carrey stuck to his artistic vision. One gag at the end of the picture illustrates just how stubborn Jim can be. After losing all that money and the girl, the two friends encounter a bus-load of beautiful women who want to carry them off into the sunset.
JUDD APATOW: I remember that the studio really wanted them to get on the bus, and Jim refused, he said, "My character would never be smart enough to get on that bus, he never would do it" and he goes, "I understand that the crowd will like it, but he will not get on that bus", and even to this day there are people who are upset that Jim wouldn't get on the bus, and he wouldn't even do one take as an option, to see what would work, because even though this is big business and big money, he's always going to stay true to his idea of his character, his joke.
In Living Color was finally cancelled in 1994, freeing Jim to play the Riddler in Batman Forever, the third Batman movie. Jim helped breathe new life into the five-year-old series.
TERRY SEMEL (Chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers): We thought at the time we were taking an extraordinary chance, or I should say the world did, because Ace Ventura came out, it was a real solid hit, he had signed to do The Mask and I guess Dumb & Dumber, and those movies hadn't come out at that time, and it was our collective feeling that Jim could bring the newness to the film.
In the spring of 1995, Jim was on another movie location in the wilds of South Carolina.
JIM (on set of Ace Ventura When Nature Calls): It may look like a forest, but it's completely outfitted with the latest of everything. Watch! (stepping on a cord) D-ding! D-ding! Service!
He was making the sequel to Ace Ventura, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. A lot had changed. This time, Jim was a major star, and the gags were even bigger. And nobody enjoyed it more than Jim.
But Hollywood, like the laws of physics, seems to have its own rules of Ying and Yang. While Jim was working on the first Ace Ventura picture, his marriage of 7 years was falling apart. And there more heartbreak ahead for the performer who brought laughter to millions.
During the summer of 1993, Jim Carrey was in Florida shooting the original Ace Ventura movie, the film that would finally make him a star. But all those years of hard work and long hours away from home were finally taking their toll. Back in Los Angeles, his 7-year marriage to Melissa Womer was disintegrating. A year earlier, the media wouldn't have noticed. But as Jim's star began to rise, the tabloids filled with stories about his domestic problems.
RITA: It drives me crazy when I read these articles that don't have a grain of truth. I know what he's like, I know what he's like as a person, and he wouldn't dump his marriage or make his wife suffer, he's not that type of person.
Jim filed for divorce in November of 1993. And there was another stunning loss for Jim the following year, the death of his father, Percy Carrey.
JIMMY MILLER: Pretty painful thing. In many respects, it seemed like Percy was just everything to Jim.
Jim's mother, Kay, had passed away in 1991. She lived to see just a glimmer of her son's phenomenol success. After she died, Percy began to fade. His family says, he died of a broken heart. His final years were certainly heart-breaking: he suffered from Alzheimers disease and lung cancer, and was weakened by chemotherapy. Towards the end, he was just a shadow of the devilishly funny figure who had worked so hard for Jim's success.
NICOLAS CAGE: He never said this, but I got the - I felt like - I got the feeling that his dad was holding on till it happened, and then when it did - my take on it is that he could let go.
On the day that Percy Carrey died, Jim's manager, Jimmy Miller, called Jim's house with his condolences.
JIMMY MILLER: He picked up the phone and he was just really shaken, quiet at moments, sobbing at other moments, and anxious to get home, and he was on a plane within a couple of hours.
WAYNE FLEMMING: I remember standing at the graveyard, and it was raining and the piper was playing, Amazing Grace, I think it was, and he was really tough, Jimmy was very tough, and we we're standing there with an umbrella, and I looked at him and said, "It's okay to cry now, man, you know, if you want to", 'cause I was starting to, I couldn't hold back anymore, I'm not that strong. And I said, "There ain't nobody gonna know because the rain is gonna hit your face and they're not gonna know its tears". And we had a good one, we had a good one.
RITA: Jim wrote this cheque to himself years ago, "For Acting Services Rendered", and put it in his wallet and carried it around forever, and so when my dad passed away, Jim took the cheque, and put it in my dad's pocket. And that meant a lot, 'cause it was like a signal to my dad that "I made it, dad" Now, I sit and think he's got two guardian angels, one on one shoulder, and one on the other, I really do. 'Cause it's like, when Mom passed away, he just started to get a little bit of success, and I think that was her little angel sitting on that shoulder, and then dad passed away, and all of a sudden, bam. And I'm sure their both up there looking down, going "Yeah, go for it!", you know, and proud as hell.
By 1994, Jim Carrey was on his own for the very first time in a very long while. But he didn't have time to be lonely. He was on location for Dumb & Dumber, finally living his dream.
JIM: Now it's like watching a Monopoly game of some kind or something like that, yeah, okay, hotel on Boardwalk, excellent, great. It's like somebody else's life I'm living in a way, but it's great because it just means I'm gonna be working a lot, and so I'm happy about that - and look at the perks! (as he hugs Lauren).
There was more than just funny business afoot. Jim and his leading lady, Lauren Holly, were falling in love. Before they were ever in a scene together, they were flirting in front of the camera.
JIM: We have a fantasy sequence in here I think that is going to be quite amazing. Okay, I start right here (pointing at Lauren's forehead)...
Lauren Holly was well-known to TV audiences from her roles in soap operas and on the prime time series Picket Fences. That first day on location, her biggest fear was that Jim would make her laugh.
HOLLY: Uh, yes.
JIM: We haven't done a scene yet.
LAUREN: Exactly. But I have a feeling - because already, with Jeff Daniels, I think my hardest job was not laughing and ruining the shot, so (looking at Jim) I can only imagine.
JIM: Yeah, well, wait till you get a load of me, baby.
Jim had noticed Lauren long before, when he was an out-of-work, angst-ridden actor, Jim watched the soaps, and Lauren Holly was his favorite soap star. Now, here they were, dating. Jim's long-time friend, Wayne Flemming, found out when Jim was suddenly rushed off the location and into a Salt Lake City hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery.
WAYNE FLEMMING: So, I go to the hotel and I knock on the door and he said, I have a nurse and everything here, the movie company sent me a nurse; there's this woman answers the door in a nurse's outfit. And she said, "Hi, I'm nurse Holly." Well, I didn't put it all together. I didn't put it together, I didn't know. And all of a sudden, she goes, "You must be Wayne", and I said, "Yeah", and she said, "Well, come on in." And I take one step forward, she jumps up in the air, throws her legs around my waist and I'm walking in with this girl in my arms and I still don't know. So I get in there, and he's laying on the chesterfield just howling, and he's trying not to laugh too hard, 'cause he's gonna hurt himself, you know. And so I went, "Nice nurse you got here". So I said, "Where's your girlfriend?" and he goes, "You're holding her. Put her down!" And I went, "Whoa!"
In Dumb & Dumber, Jim's character pines for Lauren, but in the end, he finally gets to kiss her. MTV called it the year's best on-screen kiss. It was art imitating life. And these days, they go everywhere together.
RITA: They're so cute together. They're in that, you know cuddly, cutie stage, you know when you're going out with somebody, and you want to puke, you know, they're so cute together.
JUDD APATOW: They're so happy, I hate 'em. I just hate their guts for their pure joy. I mean, they look too good together, they glow, it's spooky.
With a career that's taken him to the heights, and beautiful Lauren Holly by side, Jim Carrey seems to be a man who has everything. And in June of 1995, it gets even better. Sony Pictures offers Jim 20 million dollars to star in their comedy The Cable Guy, the richest deal ever for a comic actor. Jim studies the offer.
JIMMY MILLER: He looks at and understands and appreciates it, and gets giddy - and really giddy, where he just starts laughing, at certain point, just look at you and its like having this movie screen in front of you and all of a sudden you have Jim Carrey's face in front of you and he's just going, "Oh my God, we did it!"
Jim filmed The Cable Guy in the winter of 1996. In it, he explores the same comedic theme that runs through a lot of his other work.
JUDD APATOW: I think one of the things that Jim finds funny is confidence. If you look at his characters, a lot of them are really cocky. Ace Ventura is the most confident guy in the world and in the end, he pulls it off. The Mask is about a guy who finds his confidence and finds that part of himself. Even the Riddler is like a psychotic confident guy, and the Cable Guy is a guy who is so insecure and has no self-esteem and who makes up for it by the fact that he acts incredibly confident, but you can see in his eyes that he knows he's a complete loser. And that's always been something that Jim finds funny.
If it all disappeared tomorrow, Jim Carrey would have memories for a lifetime. Including the day he considers to be the most incredible so far, November 2, 1995. On that day, he was immortalized in Hollywood.
JIMMY MILLER: For Jim, there's certainly been a lot of highs through this, this media work, the last couple of years, but clearly the biggest would be the footprint ceremony at the Mann's Chinese Theatre with Clint Eastwood.
It was a family affair on Hollywood Boulevard. Jim shared it with his show business family. He shared it with longtime friends. And he even flew in his relatives from Canada. His sister, Rita, was in her glory.
JIM (with his arms around his family): These are the people that encouraged me.
RITA: People were shouting at our limosine going Jim, Jim, Jim! and we're inside going, "That's our Jim!" And then Jim pulled up and I couldn't have been prouder, and it was just amazing that he actually, it's there -- forever. It's permanent. You can't take it away.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD: Well, I went over there, and there was a big crowd of people there , and they went nuts for him and the crowd started cheering, and someone else would just wave, but he ran over to them and said hello here and hello there and hello there, and they just idolize him, and deservedly so. He just -- he's great.
NICOLAS CAGE: It just seemed he had not only arrived as a tremendous performer, but he had arrived as a great star, his grace was there, he had a terrific amount of grace, especially in dealing with the people who love him, his fans.
JIM (at the ceremony): The best things in life are indescribable. Thank you so much.
Then, with his daughter Jane and his real-life leading lady, Lauren Holly by his side, Jim Carrey pressed his hands and feet into the wet cement. He signed it and added that inscription, "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily".
WAYNE FLEMMING: So that's why he wrote, Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream, 'cause that's what it is, life is but a dream for him, and I think it would have been a wonderful dream if his mom and dad would have been there for that. That would have been pretty cool.
And, as the world watched, Jim Carrey put his daughter's thumb-prints into the cement too. Hers are the dot, dot, dot, after the final Merrily.
NICOLAS CAGE: I think that he wanted to include her, you know, in this terrific day, he wanted her to be there and be a part of it. I thought it was a very fatherly thing to do.
Only time will tell how long Jim Carrey's star will shine. Overnight sensations come and go. But Jim's friends unanimously agree that he is no flash in the pan. They also agree that success has not spoiled Jim Carrey.
NICOLAS CAGE: You know, I worry about him, because he has always been so nice. He's really a nice person. Then when you think of everyone wanting to snack on him, you know, now that he's this huge superstar, you wonder how can you maintain your natural way, which is to be so nice. Is that going to make him edgy, is he going to be able to handle it, but he hasn't changed at all.
We may yet see Jim Carrey, the dramatic actor. His management team is looking for non-comedic roles to broaden his appeal. And some of the top people in the industry think Jim has what it takes to get serious.
TERRY SEMEL: Without question. He starts off being a handsome guy. He's tall, he has very good presence. He's very intelligent, very bright. He's a guy who prepares himself perfectly well before he goes out. He should never stay totally away from comedy becuse it's a gift, and one that he, I hope, will always share with the world. But at the same time, it shouldn't be all he does. He should mix and become much more diversified.
JIM (on D&D set, in snow suit with white furry boots): In this scene, my legs are being consumed by two viscious malamutes. It's quite exciting. Oh God, get them off!!
WAYNE FLEMMING: He hasn't changed at all, and I want people to know that. That since the day I've met him, he is the same person as he is today. I mean, the proof of that is, we're still friends. He's not one of these guys that took off and forgot everybody - Jim never forgets anybody. And that's what people can't believe about him, is that, wow, he's such a great guy, and that's because he is, he truly is.
One thing is certain. For this young man at the top of his game, the laughs will go on. Merrily, merrily, merrily.
Jim's storybook romance with Lauren Holly turned out to be a very short story indeed. They married in late 1996 and filed for divorce 10 months later, but reportedly remain close friends. Meanwhile, his career is healthier than ever. The Truman Show has taken in more than 125 million dollars, reinforcing Carrey's reputation as a box office magician, and proving to critics that he could pull off more serious roles. His next project is a movie about the short life of Andy Kaufman, whose quirky comedy was a major influence on Carrey.