Jim Carrey: Behind His Many Faces

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Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you. ―Jim Carrey

(Image Source: SplitSider)

Ah, movies! Whether you're home sick from work, just finished a long day at the office, or simply yearning for a break from your daily shenanigans, movie and TV actors are always there to get you through the day. Whether you're into slapstick comedies, heartfelt dramas, or romantic love stories, you can always count on your favourite actor performances to bring your tiresome day to an enjoyable close. Many of us claim we love actors and have watched all of their films but very few of us know more than what the media feeds us about our celebrities. Very rarely do we stop to think about how our favourite actors and actresses have made it to the status they are today, at the forefront of comedy with Hollywood's biggest film stars and giants.

At the forefront among these giants is Canadian-born comedian Jim Carrey. This feature article aims to expose an unsightly part of Carrey's early life in an effort to demonstrate that with enough perseverance and ambition, we can overcome anything to attain our dreams.

Early Life

Born in Newmarket, Ontario on January 17th, 1962, James Eugene Carrey was not always the renowned impressionist many of us now know him as. When he was 14, his father Percy lost his job as an accountant, forcing the entire family to relocate. Later Percy found a job as a janitor in Scarborough which included a house on-site, forcing Jim to take up 8-hour shifts after school.

"I quit school at age 15 to begin working to help support my family as a janitor. I'd have a baseball bat on my janitor cart because I was so angry I just wanted to beat the heck out of something."

As a result, Jim's grades began to suffer. Over the course of his youth, Jim, once a bright student, dropped out of two different high schools to support his family's economic hardship and to care for his mother who later died of kidney failure in 1991. For eight months, Jim lived with his family in a VW campervan which was parked on his relative's lawn. Not only was Carrey's family poor, be he was an undiagnosed dyslexic, and often struggled making friends in school, that is, until he learned to use comedy to reach out to others.

Cultural Significance

And it is by reaching out to others that Carrey learned to find his place so snuggly in the comedic venue. Quite frankly, what we can deter from Jim's current success is that regardless of our situation of desperation and temptation to desist, we must always strive to attain our goals.

Surely this story has influenced young and aspiring comedic minds. Listening to Jim Carrey talk about how he himself was influenced to continue his comedic conquest as a result of great comedians before him, surely others will feel a similar desire to persevere.

This topic is entirely relevant in a world where, as Jim explains in the below speech, people end up choosing fear (their dead-end jobs) and disguise it as practicality. Carrey's message is simply not to give in to fear and to take a shot at our dreams, even if they seem out of reach, because the outcome is unimaginably rewarding and exhilarating.

Of course, there are still instances of this today. For instance, turn to the 2009 drama Up in the Air for a moment, in which George Clooney plays a man whose job is traveling around the country to fire employees from large companies. In many scenes in which Clooney is firing the employee, he moves to explain them that this unforeseen circumstance is nothing but liberation from fear and a chance for them to finally aspire to the fruitful career that they once hoped for.

Jim Carrey performing stand-up comedy.

While Carrey may be a proud Canadian, often remniscining about our North American antics and customs in relation to our southern big sibling, one surprising find is that despite his father (Percy) being of French-Canadian ancestry (the family's original surname was Carré), Jim no longer uses that name.

Carrey's success as a comedian, actor, and screenwriter is not only attributed to his nationality and his relentless passion to perform for Canadian venues --despite his American success and citizenship-- but equally because he succeeded in creating a new genre of comedy. Jim's thousand faces and witty oral impersonations bring life to a comedic style that was arguably unheard of before his time; this is what makes him so valuable and irreplacebale. If you think of Jim Carrey, chances are good that you'll have a hard time comparing him to another comedian, or any other actor, for that matter.

Today, Carrey has earned a spot amongst Canada's greatest comedic icons, all while demonstrating his ability to perform in satirical dramas. Furthermore, on August 29th, 2014, Canada Post issued an Official First Day Cover in Carrey's honour under their Great Canadian Comedians release.

Practical Implications

If there's anything that we can deter from this article it's that no matter where you're from or what social class you were born into, with enough perseverance and ambition, anyone has the potential to achieve their dreams. To a certain extent, and this is arguable, everyone is born with equal opportunity and potential for social mobility.

Almost every successful actor has had to overcome family hardship or financial crisis to earn their current spot in show business. Behind every great actor's performance is an even greater story of triumph, and in some case, destitution. Below, Jim Carrey is delivering an inspiring speech to a graduation class, quite possibly as a double entendre for his life achievements.

Jim Carrey's Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation.

For those of you that are interested in learning more about Jim's early life, feel free to watch the following full-length recording of his interview with Inside the Actors Studio, an American television show originally intended to be a televised craft seminar for students of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.



1 Comment

I was so happy to scroll down and see Jim Carrey's face. I absolutely love him!

I like the way you start your article with "Ah, movies!" It's refreshing and it immediately grabs readers' attention. Also, I like that you incorporate a video.
This is a greatly written article!

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