The actor went from being a “straight-A student to not wanting to know anybody’s name, and not wanting to make a friend."
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 18, 2021. It has since been updated.
When Jim Carrey was in school, one teacher wrote a comment on his report card that “Jim finishes his work first and then disrupts the class.” Back then, no one knew what the future had in store for one of the funniest actors in Hollywood. Carrey was born into a normal, middle-class family from Newmarket, Canada on January 17, 1962. Believe it or not, but the Bruce Almighty star had a tough time making friends in school, because of his dyslexia. Despite that, his ability to make his peers laugh helped him make friends.
According to Successgrove, he didn't let his dyslexia stop him from becoming the best possible version of himself. He worked hard and in turn, he realized that he was blessed with a good memory. Unfortunately for Carrey, his life changed dramatically after his father lost his job and his mother fell sick, according to PEOPLE. When he was 12, his father—a saxophone player— worked as an accountant to pay the bills, but was laid-off.
This unfortunate scenario forced the family to live out of their car, a yellow Volkswagen camper van for a full eight months, parking in campgrounds. "A lot of people don't know this but when I was about 14 or 15, my father lost his job and I actually became homeless for quite some time, but of course, I grew up in Canada and I thought we'd gone camping," he said, according to Nickiswift.
“We lived in a van for a while, and we worked all together as security guards and janitors,” he told James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio.
The Dumb and Dumber actor attended school until he was in 10th grade when he left to work 8-hour night shifts to help the family financially. The workload did take a toll on him mentally. Up until then, working “an eight hour day in a factory” after school left him wanting to “bash somebody’s head in.” He also went from being a “straight-A student to not wanting to know anybody’s name, and not wanting to make a friend.” He got lonely, but he preferred to keep it that way since he didn't want anyone knowing about his financial status.
Carrey was very tired, especially from the lack of sleep, and he just couldn't focus during class. When he turned 16, he decided to drop out of school. He then proceeded to work as a janitor so he could help out his family. However, he had been performing stand-up since the age of 15, and was already opening for big comedy acts like Rodney Dangerfield, per Insider.
At the age of 18, Carrey found his first credit with TV series, "The All-Night Show." By the time he turned 21, he made his first appearance on The Tonight Show. “I don’t think human beings learn anything without desperation,” Carrey told CBS of his early success. “Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything or creating anything. Period. If you ain’t desperate at some point, you ain’t interesting.”
Despite all the hardship, Carrey always believed in magic, and in himself. Even when he was struggling to get roles, he'd drive up to Mulholland Drive, look out at the city, stretch out his arms, and say, “Everyone wants to work with me. I’m a really good actor. I have all kinds of great movie offers.” He'd convince himself that he had signed a couple of movies. and drive back, ready to face a new day.
“Movie offers are out there for me, I just don’t hear them yet.” On one such trip, he wrote himself a post-dated check for $10 million, added the notation “for acting services rendered,” and kept it in his wallet since. In 1995, after the huge box office success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber, his asking price for one movie was $20 million, one of the highest in Hollywood at the time, according to LA Times. His dreams finally came true!
With success, he also found love, but nothing seemed to last. One source even labeled the comedian "a hard guy to date," saying that "Jim can run hot and he can run cold. He is someone who desperately needs to be with someone, then just as desperately needs to be alone. But at the same time, he can be a very loving, very compassionate guy."
Jim Carrey truly did go from rags to riches, and in 2017, while performing at Pasadena's Ice House Comedy Club, he opened up about his feelings, states The Things. He said to the crowd that night, "I'm not hungry anymore. I've done it all."
Cover Image Source: Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images