The Truman Show was the first Jim Carrey drama to light up the box office. It had enough comedic elements to satisfy fans who'd come to love his onscreen antics, yet it also allowed him to show off a more serious side than anyone had seen before. A few years later, Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind solidified his status as an actor respected as much for his dramatic work as for his comedy.
The truth is that Carrey has been demonstrating dramatic chops since the beginning of his career. Even his earliest, goofiest comedies had brief moments that afforded him the chance to do more than simply behave like a human cartoon. This list will break down some of the best scenes from his filmography that showcase his dramatic side. Obviously, Truman and Eternal Sunshine are accounted for, but we'll also look at movies - including Liar Liar and, yes, The Cable Guy - where the more emotional side of this mega-talented performer came out unexpectedly. Combined, they will show that there's little, if anything, Carrey can't do.
Which of these dramatic moments represent Jim Carrey at his best? Your votes will determine the answer.
His Conversation With Christof, ‘The Truman Show’Photo: Paramount Pictures
One of the tricky things about acting is that if you're playing a character who's just had a world-shattering revelation, playing it subtly is way better than playing it broadly. That's because if you go broad - which is probably how people would react in real life - it ends up looking like overacting. Playing it with a subtle touch usually reads better onscreen.
Jim Carrey understood that when he tackled the climactic conversation with Ed Harris's Christof in The Truman Show. His character has just confirmed the devastating truth that his entire life has been the subject of a TV show. Reality as he knows it doesn't actually exist. Carrey could have had a "big" reaction; instead, he shows the bewilderment it causes with just a few glances and some quietly spoken questions. The scene caps off with Truman realizing that this can be a moment of liberation rather than one of tragedy, and he embraces it.
It's a meaningful finale, thanks to the star's wise choice to go subtle.Great acting?
The Ending In Joel's Apartment, Where They Both Learn The Truth, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'Photo: Focus Features
The last few minutes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind pack a wallop. Joel and Clementine have received audio recordings they made at Lacuna. They're filled with unpleasant memories and unkind statements. Clementine is hurt and offended by things she hears Joel saying about her.
In this sequence, Carrey makes sure we know Joel is hurt even more by his own words. He feels guilt and shame over having said them. In fact, as he sits on the bathroom floor, he's just barely holding himself together. The actor nearly breaks down on camera during the scene, which drives home all of the story's themes of love and hate, good times and bad times, and separation and reconciliation.
It's possible that he's never appeared more raw or vulnerable onscreen than he is right here.Great acting?
The 'I'm Sick And Tired Of Being/Having Nobody' Scene, 'Dumb and Dumber'Photo: New Line Cinema
Dumb and Dumber is packed with goofy physical comedy, lowbrow jokes, and off-color antics. If that's all it was, nobody would have enjoyed it as much as they do. The main characters, Harry and Lloyd, are so dim-witted that they'd be annoying without a reason to care about them.
Carrey provides that reason during the scene in which his character, Lloyd, confesses to Jeff Daniels's Harry that he's "sick and tired of being a nobody" and "sick and tired of having nobody." He delivers those lines with such sincerity - and such sorrow - that we can't help but empathize with him. Lloyd may be dumb, but he's smart enough to know when he's unhappy. With that brief bit of seriousness, Carrey earns our investment in seeing Lloyd find happiness.Great acting?
Andy Says Goodbye To His Manager, 'Man on the Moon'Photo: Universal Pictures
It wouldn't be accurate to say Jim Carrey played Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. If you know anything about Kaufman, you know that Carrey absolutely channeled him. Literally any scene from the film could be chosen to highlight the actor's talents, but none has a bigger impact than the one in which Andy, at this point fatally ill, says goodbye to his manager George Shapiro (played by Danny DeVito who, amusingly, co-starred with the real Kaufman on Taxi).
Carrey brings profound sadness to the scene, which finds Andy telling George that he wants to continue performing when he gets better. Both are fully aware, though, that he isn't going to get better. We can see that the pain of knowing he'll never perform again is tearing Andy apart.
The sequence achieves its heartbreaking power because Carrey makes viewers feel the weight of Andy, a typically vibrant and energetic person, facing the end long before he's ready.Great acting?