Big-name actors in Hollywood never really seem to go away. Tom Cruise will probably star in Mission: Impossible movies until he’s 90, and Brad Pitt will undoubtedly continue to give us smoldering looks long after he’s swapped his pearly whites for dentures. But when a superstar does vanish from the headlines, however, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Jim Carrey was once Hollywood’s leading funnyman, landing starring roles in box-office hits year after year. Then, out of the blue, Jim decided to take a stand that shocked the world, and it almost cost him everything…
From a young age, Jim Carrey always knew he wanted to be a comedian. With a knack for impressions and physical comedy, it wasn’t long before Jim was doing stand-up at local comedy clubs in the hope of being discovered.
And discovered he was, as legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield quickly took a shine to the young joker and signed him as a supporting act. With his star on the rise, Jim decided to take his talents to Hollywood to see if he could make it big.
The Un-Natural Act
It wasn’t long before Jim’s popularity as a comedian took off, and by the early 80s, he was making regular appearances on An Evening at the Improv and The Tonight Show. But everything changed when in 1990, Jim became a regular cast member on the sketch comedy show In Living Color.
In Living Color
Jim and his expressive slapstick style of comedy became a huge hit, and his success on television launched him into starring roles in comedy classics like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb & Dumber, and The Mask. But this was only the beginning for young Jim Carrey.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective / Dumb and Dumber / The Mask
After reprising his role as Ace Ventura in 1995’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and starring as the Riddler in Batman Forever, Jim’s price tag reached an astonishing $20 million per film. In fact, Jim was so sought after that he even began to score leading-man roles in dramatic films like The Truman Show.
The Truman Show
Around the turn of the century, Jim began to shy away from comedies in favor of films he considered to be more “highbrow”. With his performance in 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind receiving critical acclaim, it appeared that the comedian’s acting style was beginning to shift — and people were taking notice.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
During an interview that same year, Jim’s acting pursuits were called into question. Although he attributed his transition from goofy comedian to serious actor to the nature of the roles he was given, there was still no denying that Jim’s slapstick days were now behind him…for better or worse.
The latter proved to become a reality when in 2007, Jim starred in the psychological horror film The Number 23, which was both a critical and commercial disaster. While he’d bounce back a year later with the comedy Yes Man, this marked the first moment of decline in the storied actor’s career.
The Number 23
Though in the years to come, we saw him star in films like A Christmas Carol, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Dumb and Dumber To, Jim’s performances were receiving more and more mixed reviews. Then, in 2013, the floodgate holding Jim’s career in place finally burst.
A Christmas Carol / Mr. Popper’s Penguins / Dumb and Dumber To
Several months prior to the release of the film Kick-Ass 2, Jim took to Twitter to denounce his role in the project. Citing the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the actor withdrew his support for what he believed to be an excessively violent film.
“I did Kick-Ass a month before Sandy Hook,” Jim tweeted, “and now in all good conscience, I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it, but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
Though some praised Jim for sticking to his morals, an overwhelming majority — including Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar and some of Jim’s co-stars — openly rebuked his comments. But this wouldn’t be the last time Jim’s mouth would get him into trouble.
In 2015, the comedian once again took to Twitter to share some of his more controversial beliefs. Not only was Jim not a fan of Kick-Ass, but apparently he was anti-vaccination as well.
“California Government says ‘yes’ to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in mandatory vaccines,” Jim declared, in reference to a recently passed California law. “This corporate fascist must be stopped.”
Public outrage was immediate, with many pointing out that mercury is no longer used in vaccines and that refusing to vaccinate children poses a serious risk to public health. Though he backtracked his comments in several follow-up tweets, the labeling of Jim as an anti-science nutcase had already begun.
In fact, Time magazine even published an article titled, “Jim Carrey, Please Shut Up About Vaccines”. As one would expect, this kind of bad publicity only made finding work more difficult for the already struggling actor.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Despite being brought on for an episode of Saturday Night Live, film and television studios seemed to have blacklisted Jim, leaving his 2015 filmography almost completely blank. Things were bad for the former megastar, but what came next was the final nail in his coffin.
Following the suicide of his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White, a lawsuit was brought against Jim by her family and estranged husband. They alleged that Cathriona took her own life using prescription drugs that Jim provided her with just days before her death.
Not only that, but Cathriona’s mother accused Jim of emotionally abusing her daughter, giving her STDs, and using “high-priced Hollywood lawyers” to intimidate her following their breakup. The case is still playing out in court, with Jim fighting desperately to repair his already shattered public image.
In late 2018, Jim made his return to acting in Showtime’s comedy-drama Kidding. While the former Hollywood heavyweight will likely never regain the kind of stardom he achieved early on in his career, let’s hope that new opportunities will allow Jim to redeem himself in the eyes of his many fans and admirers.
Whoever thought that Jim Carrey’s career would take such a steep nosedive?
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