Jim Carrey is turning 60, and he has a lucrative career of fan-beloved projects at his back.
While Carrey enjoys the life of a successful and wealthy actor now, there was a time when he was about as broke as it gets for a young, struggling stand-up comedian. However, he always had faith in himself, which is why he would often throw away even his successful stand-up sets in favor of starting from scratch and betting on himself to come up with something better the next night.
Speaking to Oprah Winfrey in 1997, Carrey revealed that he used to drive his car and look out on the city of Los Angeles, pretending he already had all the stuff he hoped to work for. One night, he wrote himself a check that he just knew in his heart he would one day be able to cash.
"I wrote myself a check for $10 million for ‘acting services rendered’ and I gave myself five years… or three years, maybe," he explained. "And I dated it for Thanksgiving, 1995, and I put it in my wallet and I kept it there, and it deteriorated and deteriorated and stuff."
Surprisingly, when 1995 rolled around, Carrey was in a position to cash a $10 million check. Today, CelebrityNetWorth estimates the "Sonic The Hedgehog" actor’s total net worth to be roughly $180 million thanks to not only immensely popular hits like "Liar Liar" and "Bruce Almighty" but also his decision to get backend producer credits on his films as well.
The story of Jim Carrey’s rise to fame and wealth starts on the Wayans brothers’ 1990 sketch show "In Living Color." Carrey joined the cast as a relative nobody but quickly became a fan favorite. That little dose of fame impressed filmmaker Tom Shadyac enough to make the actor the star of his 1994 comedy "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective."
Thanks to a singular performance that no one other than Carrey could have pulled off, he shot to levels of fame that were otherwise unheard of to him just a year before his self-imposed deadline was up.
That same year, he starred in "The Mask" and "Dumb and Dumber," both of which were box-office hits. In a twist of fate, the latter movie paid him $10 million ahead of Thanksgiving 1995.
However, the star’s meteoric rise wasn’t even close to being done. He went on to make "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" and played The Riddler in "Batman Forever," further adding to his popularity and making him one of the most in-demand stars in Hollywood. However, the best, as they say, was yet to come.
If "Ace Ventura" sent Carrey to levels of wealth he couldn’t have imagined, the 1996 movie "The Cable Guy" brought him to levels of wealth that literally no one could have imagined. According to a report from Variety marking the film’s 25th anniversary, Carrey’s role as a cable repairman who begins to stalk one of his customers actually ended up changing Hollywood forever. At the time, there was an agreed-upon salary cap at around $15 million for stars. While this had been breached by action heroes like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, none of them had ever received $20 million.
Jim Carrey, though, did. Despite the film being a critical and box-office flop, Carrey walked away from "The Cable Guy" with one of the biggest paydays in filmmaking history. From there on out, the typical cap for movies had increased. Today, $20 million is somewhat standard if not being exceeded by stars like Dwayne Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio. Surprisingly, though, Carrey's biggest payday was yet to come.
As Carrey got older and became savvier in show business, he went on to make other films, like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "My Myself and Irene," Bruce Almighty" as well as more dramatic passion projects like "The Truman Show," "Man on the Moon," "The Majestic" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
However, according to Forbes, he peaked earnings-wise in 2008 with the release of "Yes Man." Carrey earned a reported $30 million thanks to his deal to exchange his regular salary for an ownership stake in the movie. Once it grossed an estimated $230 million worldwide, Carrey was somehow sitting on a bigger pile of money than he ever had before. He’d definitely come a long way from the guy who had to pretend to have money and fantasized about cutting himself a pretend $10 million check.
Carrey has spent subsequent years continuing to work, coming out with movies like "Mr. Popper’s Penguins," "Dumb and Dumber To" and a starring role on the TV show "Kidding." With "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" poised to come out later this year, there’s no telling where the 60-year-old will go next.