5. The Truman Show (1998)
In a wild departure from his previous comedy roles, Carrey began branching out into a more high-concept films and dramatic roles, starting with The Truman Show. The Truman Show follows a salesman named Truman Burbank who unbeknownst to him has lived his entire life as the unwitting star of a reality TV series.
Truman lives in a totally constructed universe – everything around him is simulated reality; his every move, action and interaction is watched by millions of people the world over. All seems to be going to plan when a string of strange occurrences and accidents occur and Truman becomes suspicious of the people and world around him and begins to question his own reality.
Although there is humor in the film, the character of Truman really demonstrates the versatility as Carrey as an actor, proving he has the talent to play a more scaled down and dramatic performance. Truman Burbank is a complex character; a man who has to search for the truth within a world based on lies. Working with legendary director Peter Weir and a great ensemble cast, Carrey’s performance in The Truman Show earned him a Golden Globe Award, which was well-deserved.
4. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Continuing his domination of physical comedy roles, in another breakout hit comedy Carrey plays Lloyd Christmas, a good-natured dullard and limo driver who seems to have perpetual bad luck. When one of his passengers, the beautiful Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) leaves a suitcase at the airport, Lloyd and fellow dimwitted friend Harry Dunn (Jeff Daniels) devise a plan to travel across the country to Aspen to return the suitcase and in turn, win the affections of Ms. Swanson.
What the pair doesn’t realize is that the suitcase is filled with money which is connected to a kidnapping. Harry and Lloyd are blissfully unaware just how much danger they are getting into – with the kidnappers and the police hot on their tails. Throughout the journey their friendship and intelligence are tested to their limits in all manner of crazy and humorous situations.
In one of his most popular roles, with his terrible bowl haircut and chipped tooth, Carrey makes Lloyd Christmas one of the most lovable losers to grace the big screen. Lloyd’s persistence and idiotic charm make him a character everyone can laugh at, relate to and most importantly root for. Carrey and Daniels’ on-screen chemistry is hilarious to watch and the pair are totally believable as long-time buddies, showing us Carrey’s ability to perform not only in a starring role, but also as part of a comedic duo.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Again, showing us more of his amazing dramatic acting talent, Carrey’s character of Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine is arguably one of his most complex roles, showing that even in non-conventional art-house films he still has what it takes to entertain and move audiences.
The film follows Joel and Clementine (Kate Winslet), lovers who resort to a radical new ‘memory-wiping’ technology in order to remove all traces of their failed relationship from their minds. But when Joel’s procedure gets botched and his memories begin returning, he is reminded of the happiness he once felt with Clementine. Joel struggles with the decision to hold onto both the painful and wonderful elements of the relationship or erase all traces of it from his mind forever.
Although Eternal Sunshine does contain some comedic moments, it is one of the most somber and emotionally raw performances of Carrey’s career. Joel Barish is a damaged man with a life full of melancholy and loneliness. He has an everyman quality to him and this is a refreshingly vulnerable character that we are not used to seeing from Carrey who has mainly stuck to more lighthearted roles.
2. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Jim Carrey gives one of his most complex and daring performance in the bold and autobiographical dark comedy, I Love You Phillip Morris. Carrey plays real-life conman Steven Jay Russell; a former policeman who after coming out as gay and abandoning his family life, begins to live a life of excess, funding his exploits through criminal activities. During a long stint in prison, he meets and falls in love with fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).
It is very refreshing to see Carrey in such a different role than audiences are used to. Not only does Carrey look physically different from other roles (losing a lot of weight for the film), but playing sleazy con-artist who lies, cheats and steals to get what he wants is not something he has often explored. His on-screen chemistry with fellow actor Ewan McGregor who are both straight men playing homosexuals, is tender and convincing.
1. Man on the Moon (1999)
Carrey exhibits his amazing talent not only for dramatic acting, but for mimicry as he plays late comedian Andy Kaufman. In this biopic, Carrey fully immerses himself in the role of Kaufman nay becomes Kaufman; employing the technique of method acting and staying in character, even off the set.
Carrey nails the comedic elements of Kaufman’s unpredictable, innovative, and oddball sense of humor as well as his speaking style and mannerisms, artfully managing to show the lighter and darker sides of this often misunderstood comic genius.
The role of playing a biographical character who is also a wacky comedian is arguably the perfect role for Carrey, allowing him to show his dramatic chops as well as offering a few big laughs along the way. Carrey also received a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the film, showing that Carrey’s performance as Kaufman is not only one of his best roles in his own career, but one of the most convincing cases of actors portraying real people in recent years.
Author Bio: Sophie completed her Masters Degree in Creative Arts at Monash Univeristy, Melbourne. She loves everything about film but her passion is for extreme horror films, foreign and independent cinema and art film/avant garde films.