around the factory to work off his anger that such a thing could happen to his father. He broke a few machines. he says. and a lot of furniture.
About the same time. his mother — a famous hypochondriac - took genuinely ill. Until then. she‘d announce over dinner that she had cancer and everyone would just ask for the salt. Even now. Carrey ﬁnds it hard to believe that anyone close to him is truly sick unless there are clear physical signs. But when his mother was in pain. Carrey tried to comfort her by doing what he knew best: he made her laugh. ‘I used to come into the bedroom in my underwear.‘ he says. ‘and do my praying mantis impression.‘
It wasn‘t enough just to be funny around the house. When he was fifteen. his father took him down to the Yuk Yuk Club in Toronto to launch his career as a stand-up comic. Jim Carrey got to
‘His face stretches like bubble-gum; his
limbs twist about as though he had six
spare legs concealed about his person. He’s a whole riot in a single skin.’
the microphone all right with a whole string of impressions to do. but his problems started even before he spoke. The part of the audience that didn‘t boo his yellow polyester suit — his mother‘s choice — couldn‘t hear over the heckling of the master of ceremonies. It was two years before he dared to go back on stage.
He slowly made his name in Canada with impressions of anyone from Kermit The Frog to Henry Fonda to James Dean. After working an eight-hour day in a picture-frame factory or out on a construction site. he‘d drive 100 miles for a gig. People kept telling him he didn‘t need to stay. he could make it in LA or New York. And so. at nineteen, he left for good.
He hit Los Angeles with the same hopes that thousands have — stardom. glorious women. maybe work — but with this twist: his family depended on him. He sent the money that kept them alive and worried the few times he was so broke he had to tell them to take welfare instead. ‘My Dad.‘ he says. ‘had lost heart.‘ Carrey didn‘t make it at once. but he couldn‘t afford even to think about failing. He lived in a cheap motel on Sunset Boulevard where the parade of hookers freaked him out. He wrote himself a cheque for $10 million ‘for Acting Services rendered by Thanksgiving 1995‘ and kept it in his wallet until the day he’d earned it.
His first brief. but conspicuous TV sitcom role — in The Duck Factory. as the rubber-faced animator of rubber-faced movie animals — ended when the show folded after thirteen weeks. It began to look like he might be trapped for life as the opening act on the Las Vegas circuit. But then he took acting lessons and threw away the impressions that had been the backbone of his career to date. Out on stage. he improvised -— really improvised — with nothing prepared up his sleeve in case the ideas dried up or the audience was sullen. There was no time to be afraid. and that sense of nervelessness has carried through to his movie work. ‘l’ve never had any trouble being in front ofacamera.‘ he admits. ‘There are many things I could do before a camera that I can‘t do before my family. When the camera goes on. hey. desperation sets in. You better do something interesting.‘
When he was ‘discovered’ again in 1990. he joined the cast of the TV comedy series In Living Color. But while he was writing and performing on the show. it started to seem like
‘fast food‘. He wanted to make movies. but he also knew how many people were ahead of him in the line for a break. ‘And basically.‘ he adds. ‘what you’ve gotta do is take a pile of shit and turn it into gold.‘
SO he did. He took Ace Ventura: I”! Detective. a modestly funny script involving a kidnapped dolphin. and turned it into a surprise hit that grossed $150 million worldwide. The night the movie opened. Carrey was in Chicago doing his stand-up act. still not sure that the film had worked. He had starred in it while working on his TV series. writing until four in the morning. and then turning-up on set to ‘just go crazy‘.
The Mask too was a huge hit. and Carrey‘s fee for his next movie — Dumb And Dumber — went up to $7 million. ‘I don‘t want people to start thinking of me as. like. a money person. ‘cause I‘m not.‘ he says. with feeling. ‘To me. that‘s a
JIM CARREY FEATURE
. and In Dumliand Dumber
little Monopoly game that‘s being played in the other room.‘ Nevertheless. he has just entered the history books as the highest paid actor of all time. for a deal worth $20 million on the forthcoming Cable Guy.
He still claims. however. that money and stardom haven‘t wiped away his anger at how the world treated his father. ‘I wouldn‘t want to lose all my neuroses.‘ he says stubbornly. ‘l can create goblins any day of the week.‘ But he could part. at last. with that Silt) million cheque that he kept in his wallet. His father had always been the one who most wanted Jim Carrey to be a star. and when he died. (.‘arrey let the cheque drop into the coffin to be buried. lle‘s found the kind of success that is much more than just a paper promise. .J Bat/mm forever opens on Friday /4 July. For revieii' see Screen Test.
The List 14-27 Jul 199517