Some people say that Jim Carrey is a wacko, but others say he is a misunderstood genius. There’s one thing that no one can argue with: the guy is a goddamn screen legend. He’s one of the funniest and most popular movie stars who has ever lived and he’s led the way for some of the most hilarious movies ever made. He has so much energy and he manages to make the typically tiresome and lazy form of slapstick comedy feel fresh and fun and engaging. He’s a truly interesting guy, too. So, here are 10 trivia facts that you (probably) didn’t know about Jim Carrey!
10. He sent his résumé to Carol Burnett at age 10
When Jim Carrey was ten years old, he sent his résumé in to Carol Burnett, because he wanted to be featured as a regular on the show, like Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. He knew he was destined to be a great showman and he simply wanted to skip all those years of high school and college that get in the way of a burgeoning career in comedy. He revealed the whole story during a TV special that celebrated the show’s 50th anniversary: “Carol and I actually go way back,” he said. “I was ten years old, and I really wanted to be on The Carol Burnett Show, because I was a young, aspiring comedian, and I did about 150 voices.” So, he wrote almost exactly that in a letter and sent it to Burnett herself. He even got a personal (supposedly) response from her that read, “Unfortunately, at this time we aren’t hiring children – just grown ups. But stay in school, study hard, and keep watching our show. Yours truly, Carol Burnett.” As it turns out, he ignored her advice and ended up dropping out of high school when he was sixteen – but it doesn’t seem like it hurt his career too much.
9. Jerry Lewis was one of his biggest influences growing up
Every great comic can tell you exactly who influenced them to get into comedy, and for Jim Carrey, Jerry Lewis was a huge influence. He even wrote a whole piece for Time magazine about Lewis’ influence on him. He wrote, “I’ve always had this psychic connection with Jerry Lewis. When I was six or seven years old, I’d be sitting in my house with my family and have this really palpable feeling that one of his movies was on. I’d turn on the television, and, sure enough, Money From Home or Living It Up would be playing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to the total sense of freedom in Jerry’s work. I’ve never been particularly grounded in the real world myself, and I love the idea of rebellion against reality. Through his comedy, Jerry would stretch the boundaries of reality so far that it was an act of anarchy; he was completely free of this contrivance that we walk through life with, and I found that extremely liberating. Every artist is fed by the people who came before them. In the same way that Jimi Hendrix learned from Chuck Berry, I learned from Jerry. He is part of my makeup. I don’t do exactly what he did, but his freedom and his disrespect for the norm is there in my work.
8. Those rumors of a feud with Robin Williams are false
There are a lot of comparisons to be drawn between Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. They are both comedy legends of the stage and screen who got their start at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and have starred in some of the most popular comedies ever made and are able to portray a huge variety of hilarious characters (be they Ace Ventura or Mrs. Doubtfire or Lloyd Christmas or Mork or whatever). They also had their heyday in the 1990s. The decade was big enough for the two of them, but the media, just to keep things exciting, decided to report that there was an intense feud going on between the two. These rumors have resurfaced lately, thanks to Dave Itzkoff’s new Robin Williams biography. Carrey cleared the air: “RadarOnline is completely off base and creating a feud that didn’t exist. Robin may have expressed insecurity about me and my rise to success, but I have never had anything but the greatest respect for him and his genius. He was also always respectful to me in person. He called me ‘Maestro’ and I called him ‘Billy the Kid.’ Let’s get it straight. There’s no feud if one side isn’t aware of it.”
7. He would be open to playing another comic book role
Jim Carrey’s best known comic book role was the Riddler in Batman Forever, and he has also played Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick-Ass 2. Those aren’t the only two comic book roles he has been considered for – he was reportedly considered for the role of Brainiac in Tim Burton’s Superman movie that never got made. Plus, it was once reported that Marvel were trying to cast Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler as Rocket Raccoon and Groot, the voice roles that would eventually go to Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively. The actor himself has said that he would be open to other comic book roles in movies. He has said that he might even reprise his role as the Riddler in the DC Extended Universe. “I’d love to work in the new graphic novel versions of the movie. I don’t know about reprising the role, I don’t know if Chris Nolan would go for that. I’d love to work with him.” He doesn’t usually like to play the same character twice, but he did note that this would be a different version of the character, since the DCEU movies are a fair bit darker than the Joel Schumacher train wreck that he appeared in.
6. He was rejected by Saturday Night Live
Jim Carrey auditioned to join the cast of Saturday Night Live in the year that some of the greats like Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks were also auditioning. While the latter three were cast and went on to become SNL legends, Carrey was left behind. According to SNL overlord Lorne Michaels, “Jim Carrey never auditioned for me personally. There is an audition tape, which we almost played on the 25th anniversary show – if he had come that night, we would have.” Michaels later elaborated: “I wasn’t at the Jim Carrey audition, but somebody who was there said, ‘I don’t think Lorne would like it,’ and they were probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter. Or maybe they were right – who knows? No one gets it all right.” Of course, the hugely energetic and always fresh and hilarious Jim Carrey would’ve made for a fantastic addition to the cast of SNL, but hey, no one will be able to identify comic genius every time they see it. It’s amazing that Lorne Michaels and his team have discovered so many comedy greats over the years: Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, the list goes on. It makes sense that a few will slip through the cracks.
5. He hates doing sequels
Jim Carrey isn’t really a sequel guy. He doesn’t like playing the same character twice. In fact, that’s what made Count Olaf the ideal role for him – this was a guy who plays different characters every half an hour or so within the same movie. Of course, he has done sequels. He did Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and finally came around to the idea of a Dumb and Dumber sequel twenty years after the fact. But he doesn’t really do them. It’s not that the studios don’t want to do sequels to his movies. The box office grosses that his movies have (Bruce Almighty grossed over $400 million worldwide!) are unheard of for comedies. In fact, sometimes they’re so desperate for a sequel to his films that they’ll do something absurd like Evan Almighty or Son of the Mask without realizing that the appeal of Jim Carrey’s movies isn’t the title – it’s Jim Carrey! Duh! He explained why he doesn’t really like to do sequels in more detail recently: “I find sequels are a function of commerce, for the most part. At least the two I’ve done, they were characters I enjoyed doing, but I did find myself almost parroting myself at that point. When you put ten years between you and the last time you did it, suddenly you’re going, ‘How did I do that again?’…So, you’re imitating your original inspiration. It was super fun with Jeff, but I’m not a crazy sequel guy.”
4. He saw a ghost (apparently) in the hotel from The Shining
The Stanley Hotel in Colorado is where Stephen King stayed when he came up with the idea for The Shining. So, in a way, it’s the closest thing that the real world has to the haunted Overlook Hotel, and the Stanley has been making a fortune out of this connection. The book was a best seller, and fans come from far and wide to stay there and get inside King’s head. The infamous Room 217 is still the hotel’s most requested room to this day, purely for its connection to the ghosts from the book. Dumb and Dumber was filming near the hotel, and while they were in the area, Jim Carrey spent a night at the Stanley. Like many guests before and after him, Carrey asked to stay in Room 217. In the middle of the night, about three hours after he went to sleep, Carrey came running out of the room, screaming, left the hotel, and refused to go back. Even to this day, he has stuck to the vow that he made that day that he would never go back, and he still refuses to tell anyone why. One rumor has it that he saw the ghost of his grandfather, but that could just be hearsay. Maybe it was all just a big prank!
3. He celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Comedy Store wearing nothing but a sock on his penis
The Comedy Store is a standup comedy club in Los Angeles where countless legendary comedians got their start. It’s where Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling and Robin Williams honed their acts and became super stars. Another one of those comics was Jim Carrey. Mitzi Shore, the owner of the club who gave all these comedians their start, passed away earlier this year, and Carrey couldn’t have spoken more highly of her. Mourning her passing, Carrey said, “The great Mitzi Shore, owner of the famous Comedy Store, has passed away. No words can express the gratitude I have for her. We met in 1979. She opened the door to my dreams! If she loved you, you did well. If she didn’t, you did something else. I will love her forever.” Carrey made a reappearance at the Store to celebrate the 20th anniversary since it opened its doors. A ton of comics who got their start there appeared for the celebrations, including Richard Pryor, who struggled onto the stage as he battled multiple sclerosis. When Carrey took the stage to celebrate the anniversary of the club that made him a comedy legend, he was wearing nothing but a sock on his penis. That must’ve taken some – pardon the pun – balls.
2. He predicted his own $10 million payday
If that unusual red carpet interview from the fashion event where he attacked media personalities that went viral taught us anything, it’s that Jim Carrey has stayed grounded, no matter how famous and rich and successful he’s gotten. He’s not the kind of guy to go all Hollywood and become a vapid, disconnected airhead. In 1997, when he was the biggest movie star in the world, he told Oprah Winfrey a story from the days when he was a struggling actor who couldn’t get any work. He said that he wrote himself a $10 million check and dated it three years in the future. Three years later, he earned $10 million. As he explains the story himself, “I wrote myself a check for ten million dollars for acting services rendered and dated it Thanksgiving 1995. I put it in my wallet and it deteriorated. And then, just before Thanksgiving 1995, I found out I was going to make ten million dollars for Dumb and Dumber. I put that check in the casket with my father, because it was our dream together.” Isn’t that sweet? He’d made it and all he wanted to do was share the moment with his father.
1. He was considered for the lead role in almost every movie since 1994
After Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask were all released to huge box office success and critical acclaim in 1994, Jim Carrey was the biggest movie star in the world. So, every producer with a movie in the pipeline wanted to get him in the lead role in their movie. After those three, he could have his pick. He was considered to play Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story opposite Paul Newman, who the filmmakers originally wanted to play Sheriff Woody (the idea being that the two actors represented New Hollywood and Old Hollywood, respectively). Mike Myers considered Carrey for the role of Dr. Evil before deciding to play it himself. The producers of Meet the Parents originally intended the role of Greg Focker to be played by Carrey. Carrey has been considered for everything: he was considered to play Shaggy in the live action Scooby Doo movie and Buddy in the movie Elf and Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s gloomy, gothic Roald Dahl adaptation. Hell, Jim Carrey was even considered for the role of Jack Sparrow!