Jim Carrey's comedic career — We talk to the Canadian actor about life, love, and ''Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls''

By Dana Kennedy
November 10, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Just because he looks so normal, bounding into the small room like a big kid, dressed down in shorts and a T-shirt, is no reason to think Jim Carrey, the 33-year-old star of this month’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and the recipient of $20 million for the upcoming feature Cable Guy, is a regular guy. An outsider looking in at the dingy office and hearing the noise from workers hammering props in the photo studio one floor below might wonder if the star will throw a fit over such decidedly unswank surroundings. So it’s not surprising that there’s a divalike protest, especially when the three phones in the borrowed office ring throughout the interview. Finally, one of the two people in the room snaps. ”Are those phones ringing LOUD enough?” But the outburst comes not from Carrey, whom some have described as increasingly imperious, but from the writer. In response, Carrey jumps up like a well-trained houseboy and quickly disconnects each of the phones.

That eagerness to please has stayed with Carrey during his 16-year road to overnight success. The youngest of four children born to a Toronto accountant who later lost his job, Carrey left school early to work in factories with his siblings to help support the family. ”We scrubbed pubic hair off toilets,” Carrey says grimly. Fortunately, he found a way out when he began performing at Yuk Yuk’s, a Toronto comedy club, when he was 15. By his early 20s, he was doing well enough to bring his parents to L.A. and support them. His mother, Kathleen, died in 1989. His father, Percy, to whom he was extremely close, died last year.

But Carrey’s transformation from an adolescent at Yuk Yuk’s, where he first performed wearing yellow polyester and ”totally bombed,” to Hollywood’s $20 million man, has been studded with failures. ”That’s always been my pattern,” he says. ”I try something, totally suck, go away and come back, and I kill.” Between his short-lived 1984 series The Duck Factory and his run on In Living Color, there was a two-year stint in which Carrey didn’t work. He spent some of that time driving up to L.A.’s Mulholland Drive and visualizing himself as a superstar, even writing himself a check in the late ’80s that he postdated for Thanksgiving 1995 in the amount of $10 million.

The visualization worked. After the consecutive smashes Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Batman Forever, Carrey no longer needs to imagine success. He now lives in a Brentwood mansion with his girlfriend, actress Lauren Holly (Picket Fences), whom he met on the set of Dumb and Dumber. He has plans to make a sequel to The Mask; Cable Guy, in which he plays a cable technician who terrorizes Matthew Broderick; Liar, Liar, the story of a pathologically dishonest single father who promises not to lie to his son for 24 hours (for which he’ll pick up another $20 million); and he’ll play an insurance adjuster in The Truman Show, which promises to be more serious. A messy divorce from former wife Melissa, whom he met in a Los Angeles comedy club in 1986, is behind him, and he’s ”super close” to their daughter, Jane, 8, whom he sees every week.

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