James Eugene Carrey - born january 17 , 1962 in Newmarket, Ontario,Canada, to
Percy and Kathleen Carrey. Grew up in Jackson's Point and Burlington, Ontario
(Located about 30 miles outside of Toronto.) Carrey is the youngest of four
children and has two sisters and one brother Many recent interviews have
mentioned that Jim was a very qiuet kid who liked to draw. "I used to draw a
lot. If my mother would ask me to do something else, I'd have a hairy conniption.
I'd just go crazy." (1) Carrey was a loner until second or third grade when he
discovered that he could make people laugh. This led him topractice making faces
in the mirror for hours on end. "It would drive my mother crazy. She used to
scare me by saying that I was going to see the devil if i kept looking in the
mirror. That fascinated me even more, of course" (2) Carrey was recently asked
what his first experience was on stage. He replied, "It started in second grade.
I was in music class and we were practicing for the Christmas assembly. One day
I started fooling around by mocking the musicians on a record. The teacher thought
that she'd embarrass me by making me get up and do what I was doing in front of
the whole class. So I went up and did it. She laughed. and the whole class went
nuts. My teacher asked me to do my routine for my christmas assembly, and I did.
That was the beginning of the end."
When Carrey was in the seventh grade he had an arrangement with his teacher.
"[She] told me that if i didn't fool around during class, I could have 15 minutes
at the end of the day to do a comedy routine. Instead of bugging everybody, I'd
figure out my routine. and at the end of the day, I'd get to perform in front of my
entire class. I thought it was really smart of her. It's amazing how important that
was." (3) (Mr. Carrey still corresponds with this teacher. She recently sent him
back some of the 'Teacher With An Axe Through Her Head' pictures that he drew of her
when he was a kid.)
Graduate Emeritus - School of hard knocks
Carrey's father, Percy, played the saxofone and clarinet and had, at one time, fronted
his own orchestra in Toronto. He gave it up for the security of a steady paycheck.
The security proved false when Carrey Sr. was laid of his job as a controller after 26
years. He was 51 years old. The elder Carrey couldn't find another accounting job.
This Plunged his family, including 13 year old Jim, into financial chaos. Jim stated
that he learned from his father's experience and used humor to deal with many of the
hardships he and his family had to endure.
"My grandparents were alcoholics, and my grandfather wouls get my dad in a corner
every Christmas and tell him what a looser he was because he didn't have a job. My
father would just sit there and turn purple with anger. it was horrible for me to watch.
My father wouldn't say anything, because he was such a nice man. but I'm not as nice as
my dad. As soon as my grandparents would leave, I'd imitate them. My father would be
so relieved, it was if i pulled the pressure plug when I went into this routine"
Jim has stated that he thought of himself as the second funniest person in his family,
with his father being first. "Dinnertime was usually a good time for a butter fight. at
Christmas, Percy and the kids would put out stocking caps, grab some axes, and head for
the road in front, to act out a typical tableu for passersby."
Carrey related that his mother was a difficult person to deal with, and that his humor
did little to relieve her pain. "My mother was a proffesional sick person -- she took a
lot of pain pills There are many people like that. It's just how they'r used to getting
attention I always remember she's the daughter of alcoholics who'd leave her alone at
Despite the finacial and personality problems in his past, Jim recalled that his family
gave him a sense of stability and security. "We had problems like all families ut we had
a lot of love. I was extremly loved. we always felt we had each other." Carrey's father
encouraged his son to pursue his dream of being a performer and helped him write comedy
routines. "I got a lot of support from my parents," Carrey remarked recently, "That's the
thing I always appreciated. They didn't tell me I was being stupid, they told me I was
Carrey dropped out of High School as soon as he turned 16 to work at the Titan-Wheels
tire-rim factory in Scarborough, Ontario, with his father, mother and three other members
of his family. "The Carrey family spent their nights scrapping pubic hairs of the urinals."
It was not fun. Young Jim became a highly pissed-off ninth-grade dropout who moved through
the factory with a baseball bat in his cart, pounding holes in the walls." Carrey recalled
that he and his family were having troubles recounciling their fate and started blaming their
troubles on other racial groups. "The whole family was turning into monsters." In order to
save themselves from this, the entire family quit the tire-rim factory, moved out of factory
housing and moved into, first a VW camper and then a tent that was pitched on a sister's lawn.
"We were gypsies. It was weird"
When Carrey was 15 his father, who believed in his son's talent and didn't want Jim to give up
his dream despite the dire financial situation the family was in, arranged for him to get a
try-out at YukYuk's comedy club in Toronto and drove him to the gig. Carrey recalled this as a
disaster. "The evening was a disaster -- from the mercilessly heckled Carrey. The shaken young
comedian didn't return to the stage for two years. 'I have no idea what motivated me to try again,'
he said. 'I felt like giving it a shot. Failure thought me that failure isn't the end unless you
give it up."
Carrey started getting bookings all over Canada in comedy clubs and local TV spots. A friend of
his, stand-up comic Wayne Flemming, remembers giving carrey a ride home from a gig one night, "and
being instructed to pull up to a van. "What's this" Flemming asked. "This is where we all sleep,"
Carrey told him." Eventually the money situation improved and the carrey family was able to move back
to a home.
The LA Shuffle - Getting Established.
Carrey moved to LA in 1981, with a $1,000 he had saved up, a list of phone number contacts acquired in
Canada, and a real touch of naivete. "When prostitutes first approached him outside his cheap Sunset Strip
Hotel, he says, 'I thought it was Sadie hawkins day.'" Over the next 3 years Carrey went from performing
at small comedy clubs in LA and New York to the nightclub stage at Las Vegas and was pulling in up to
$200,000 a year. He was at various times, the opening act for Rodney Dangerfield, The Pointer Sisters,
Sheena Easton and Pat Boone.
Carrey was having second thoughts about what he was doing. He began to realize that being an impressionist
meant constantly using someone else's material. carrey wanted to start get recognition for his own
comedic talents, not just for being the guy who could imitate anyone. Carrey began having nightmares
and bouts of depression and began seeing a shrink. Carrey was afraid that his future, while financially
secure, would be a personal nightmare. He quit the business. "Mindy Shore, who owns Comedy Store
in [LA], said, 'You're the king of impressions. What are you doing?' His comic friends [including
Arsenio Hall, Sam Kinison and Robin Williams] said, 'You're insane. Don't do this.' Jim said 'If it
doesn't make me happy, what the f---k good is it? I'll have a lot of money and feel like an idiot'"
It took a while for the act to gel. Carrey was working as an opening act for Rodney Dangerfield in
Vegas and said "I'd go [on stage] with spiked hair and big red pants, and just go off - total
improvisation. Many, many nights it got no reaction at all. Rodney would watch me from the wings,
standing there in his housecoat, and I'd come off stage and he'd take a drag on his cigarette and
shake his head and say 'They were lookin' at you like you was from other f---in' planet, kid.'"
During this time, Carrey married a former waitress from the Comedy Store, Melissa Womer
Over the next four years Carrey continued plying his stand-up act and started getting small roles in
movies. in 1989 he made "Earth Girls Are Easy" where he met fellow cast member Damon Wayans. Wayans older
brother Keenan, was just starting up a comedy/variety series for the new Fox TV Network called "In Living Color"
and Carrey was hired as a cast member. carrey stayed with the show for 4 years and created such characters as
Fire Marshall Bill, the stereo induced body builder Vera de Milo. Carrey stated that the "In Living Color" show
was a great place to perfect his act and gave him experience in developing original comedic characters and in
writing comedy skits.
1993 - 1995 Surviving the 'Big Time'
Carrey left "In Living Color" in 1993. He said that the producers of the movie "Ace Ventura, pet Detective"
had been after him to do the movie for over 2 years, but he hated the script. Finally he struck a deal with
Morgan Creek that gave him creative control and he and director Tom Shadyac threw out the original script
and rewrote it as more of a vehicle of Carrey's comedic talents. The movie went into production in 1993
and was released on Feb 4, 1994. During the filming of "Ace" Carrey separated from his wife, whom he had
married in 1987. The couple had one child, Jane who is now 10.
New Line Cinema had negotiated the movie rights from Dark Horse Comics to bring their comic book hero
"The Mask" to the big screen and had hired director Charles Russell to coordinate the pre-production
Russell had seen Carrey's stand-up act back in 1986 and had remembered Carrey as an extremely flexible and
versatile performer whom Russell thought would be perfect for the title role in the movie. Russell instructed
screenwriter Mike Werb to tailor his script arround Carrey's gifts of vocal dexterity and physical comedy.
"When i was writing it, Chuck kept talking about this guy named Jim Carrey and that I was supposed to have him in mind while writing the part," Werb said.
"He hadn't even been signed yet, and 'Ace Ventura' wasn't even in production. I had never heard
of him. I had never ever seen 'In Living Color'. But Chuck was extremely focused on this actor and I
must have to say he had a real vision about that." The special effects laden movie went into production
in the fall of 1993 and opened theatrically on July 29, 1994. In June of 1994, Carrey underwent successfull
gall bladder surgery and quicklyrecovered enough to participate in the press junket for "The Mask".
Based on his new bankability as a star, Carrey struck a deal with New Line Cinema that would give him $7 million
for his next movie "Dumb and Dumber" and creative control on the project. Carrey personally lobbied Jeff Daniels
for the part of Harry dunn. The picture went into production in the Spring of 1994 and opened on Dec. 16th. This
film was the first release for new Line Cinema in the highly competetive Christmas season, and became Carrey's
Second $100+ million dollar grossing film.
In September of 1994, Carrey's father, Percy died. Carrey had said of his dad, "He was like a stage mother -- he always
pushed me to do what I wanted." Carrey had credited a lot of his drive and ambition to his father whom he said:
was always supportive of his efforts. Carrey's mother had passed away a few years before...