13 Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Jim Carrey Movies
In the 1990s, Jim Carrey completely redefined what it meant to be a comic movie star. These facts about the making of Jim Carrey movies prove that the man behind the rubber face wanted to deliver more than just a punchline.
When the Canadian-born actor transitioned to more serious roles in the late '90s, he showed off his method side and total commitment to character. He didn't just portray Andy Kaufman in the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon; he became Andy Kaufman. Carrey took that perseverant attitude with him to every movie he made, even if it meant breaking a few ribs or having an actual chipped tooth.
The best Jim Carrey movies can make a spectator laugh or cry. He’s just as convincing as the heartbroken Joel Barish in the breakup drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as he is as a silly pet detective who talks out of his butt.
Read all about the interesting behind-the-scenes stories of a man truly committed to his art.
Carrey's Unprecedented $20 Million Paycheck For 'The Cable Guy' Created A Massive Financial Ripple Effect In The Movie IndustryPhoto: Columbia Pictures
In 1994, Jim Carrey erupted onto the Hollywood movie scene with three hit movies. The rubber-faced comedian had just experienced one of the most successful years in funny movie history with Ace Venture: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. Carrey further cemented his A-list box-office status in 1995 with Batman Forever and the sequel Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
The allure of the Hollywood comedy is that they're generally safe bets because they don't cost a ton of money to produce, as opposed to action movies that carry a much larger budget. Comedies also do not typically make as much money at the box office. Carrey redefined that notion and changed the entire landscape of the comedy genre. The actor received a great deal of press when he signed a deal for $20 million to star in the 1996 comedy The Cable Guy. The contract was a game-changer for comic actors (just ask Kevin Hart and Adam Sandler).
Producers took notice, and some even complained. One Hollywood executive grew worried and wondered, "If Carrey is getting $20 million, then what are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks worth?” Another 1995 headline read: "H'wood Finds $20 Million Tab for Carrey Plain Scary."
"Every major top-of-the-line movie star got a $5 million raise, that's what happened," said Variety reporter Mike Fleming Jr. "They'd set a ceiling and Jim blew past it." However, even though The Cable Guy brought in over $100 million at the box office, it was Carrey's first true box-office flop because of the movie's hefty budget.
Carrey Almost Died Filming The Storm Scene In 'The Truman Show'Photo: Paramount Pictures
The exciting climax of the 1998 comedy-drama The Truman Show features the title character getting over his immense fear of the water in order to escape from his fake reality TV show life. Truman is sailing a small boat in his daring escape. Christof (Ed Harris) generates an intense storm in an effort to sink Truman's vessel and stop him from getting away from Seahaven.
The scene may have been filmed in a water tank inside of a movie studio, but that doesn't mean it wasn't dangerous.
Carrey revealed during a 2018 interview with Vanity Fair that he nearly drowned filming the scene:
I was wearing wool clothing - a big, wool sweater, wool pants, and shoes - and they had jet engines blowing on me, and they had these giant wave machines that were creating gale-force waves. I don’t know if you can see it in the film, but they've got divers under the water, and I’m actually giving the signal of like, "I'm in trouble," which was a clenched fist. They just saw it as acting. I went under, I had no breath left, and I was drowning. I was under the water at the bottom of the pool, and with the last breath, with the last hint of consciousness, I just spun and made a couple of gigantic strokes toward the back of the storm and came up outside the storm gasping for air and exhausted. I just barely made it to the edge of the wall where the sky is and hung on the edge of the wall gasping for air, looking back at the storm that was raging still, and it went on for another minute and then slowly shut down. They didn’t know where I was, and then they finally saw me and came over. I almost died. That was the real deal.
Carrey Was Hurt When A Scene With An Ex-Fiancee Look-Alike Was Cut From 'Eternal Sunshine'Photo: Focus Features
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about a breakup so harsh and heartbreaking that both Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) decide to have the other person completely erased from their memory. Carrey is convinced Gondry cast future Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo in the role of Joel's ex-girlfriend because the actress resembles Renée Zellweger. Carrey and Zellweger were engaged before breaking up right before production started on the film.
"I was pretty hurt," Carrey said. "Michel likes to have real feelings in the scene and real chemistry, so he hired Ellen Pompeo, who's a wonderful actress. But she reminded me completely of Renée. Her look was similar. And I said, 'B*stard!' And it ends up that she's not even in the movie.”
Gondry denies Carrey's claims. "I don't think they look alike," he said. Carrey still pines for Zellweger. In his 2020 semi-autobiographical novel Memoirs and Misinformation, he refers to his Me, Myself & Irene co-star as the "great love of my life."
Carrey Picked Fights With A Former Pro Wrestler While Filming 'Man on the Moon'Photo: Universal Pictures
Andy Kaufman loved to irritate people. He based much of his persona on being annoying and controversial, even to the point where the deadpan comedian would get up on stage in front of a paying audience and read The Great Gatsby instead of telling jokes. In fact, there were times when Kaufman would even yell at an audience member if they started to laugh.
In order to prepare for this role as Kaufman in Milos Forman's 1999 biopic Man on the Moon, Jim Carrey went totally method. He essentially became the Taxi star even after the cameras stopped rolling. Carrey insisted people call him Andy or Tony Clifton (if he was playing that character).
In the 2017 Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton, the curtain gets pulled back on just how far Carrey went to become Kaufman. One of the most dangerous bits of shenanigans occurred when Carrey taunted muscle-bound professional wrestler Jerry Lawler. In real life, over the course of several years, Kaufman and Lawler pretended to be bitter rivals in true WWE fashion.
Carrey was upset that, due to insurance reasons, he could not perform the piledriver move with Lawler during the movie's wrestling scene. He insisted on authenticity, but the producers wanted a stunt double.
Carrey decided to spit on Lawler to get him to start hitting him. It worked. (Maybe?) Lawler became enraged and hit Carrey to the point where the actor had to be taken to the hospital. Carrey later showed up wearing a neck brace claiming he would not share the screen again with the wrestler. Of course, this is someone portraying Kaufman. What better way to be the comic than to stage the whole event with the guy Kaufman pretended with for years?
Carrey Consulted With A CIA Torture Expert To Handle The Costume In 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'Photo: Universal Pictures
Who would have ever thought that starring in a children's holiday movie was going to be total torture? Carrey signed on to play the titular Grinch in Ron Howard's 2000 fantasy-comedy How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The career choice nearly drove the actor completely mad.
Putting the elaborate Grinch costume on required Carrey to sit in a makeup chair for eight and a half hours every day during the initial period of filmmaking. The heavy costume was made out of yak fur, which was sewn inside a spandex suit. The actor was also covered in thick makeup and prosthetics. The suit caused Carrey to get so overheated that Howard had to run fans in order to try and control his sweating. Things got so bad for Carrey that he threatened to quit. He described wearing the costume as "being buried alive every day."
Producer Brian Grazer hired a CIA expert trained in pain endurance to help Carrey cope with what the actor felt was complete torture. Carrey said the CIA operative trained him to "eat everything you see. If you're freaking out and you start to spiral downwards, turn the television on, change a pattern, have someone you know come up and smack you in the head, punch yourself in the leg, or smoke as much as you possibly can.”
The expert advice helped. Carrey made it through 92 days of production. The downside is that he also started smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
Carrey Had An Hour-Long Conversation With Kaufman's Daughter In Character As KaufmanPhoto: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond / Netflix
Andy Kaufman and his high school girlfriend had a daughter in 1969. Maria Colonna Kaufman was subsequently put up for adoption. In the early 1990s, the radiation therapist searched for her birth parents. She discovered that the deceased, irreverent comedian Kaufman was her biological father.
Maria decided to visit the set of her father's 1999 biopic, Man on the Moon. Carrey then proceeded to go method in a way that perhaps had never been done before. As revealed in the Netflix documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton, Maria had an hour-long conversation with Carrey (who remained in character as her father). The method actor said they spent a lot of their time "telling each other that they love each other."