When news spread around Hollywood that Jim Carrey would play a man with divine powers in Bruce Almighty, the irony was not lost on the industry's money men. Because despite the fact that he's not your regular silver screen hunk, the rubber-faced comedian has God-like powers at the box office.
Since he hit the big time in 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
, Jim's movies have raked in over $3 billion. And while some may complain that his style of humour isn't exactly the epitome of sophistication, there's no question that he is Tinseltown's most reliable draw.
The actor's stratospheric success is all the more impressive when you consider his background. Born in the Canadian town of Newmarket, Ontario, on January 17, 1962, Jim had it far from easy during his early days. The youngest of four children, he spent his teenage years working as a janitor in an effort to help his struggling family make ends meet. At one point, when his parents found themselves out of work, the family was forced to live out of their car.
But the renowned comic was a performer from day one, and his talents simply demanded an audience. Indeed his high school teachers let him give a five-minute show at the end of each day, in return for not making his fellow students laugh during their lessons.
After earning his stripes on the local stand-up circuit, he made a break for Los Angeles, where veteran comic Rodney Dangerfield gave him a regular spot at the Comedy Store. It was here that Jim would encounter two people who would change his life forever.
The first was waitress Melissa Womer, who later became his wife and the mother of his beloved daughter Jane. And the second was comedian Damon Wayans, with whom he made the movie Earth Girls Are Easy
. Damon was so impressed by Jim's antics in the flick that he called his brother Keenan, who was working on a new sketch show called In Living Color
. And once television-audiences got a taste for the comic's screwball humour, the big studios were weren't far behind.
They say clowns often suffer from broken hearts, however, and Jim has had his share of sorrow. Despite a glittering career, he has repeatedly commented on feeling lonely and being unable to find the right woman to settle down with since his marriage to Melissa ended in 1995. That relationship resulted in a difficult legal wrangle some years later, when she filed court papers demanding an increase in her child support payments.
He married again in 1996, to actress Lauren Holly, but their nuptials likewise ended in divorce. In 2004, he admitted to the world that he suffers with depression. Since then the funnyman has also been linked to Russian ballerina Anastasiya Volochkova engaged to Renee Zellweger, before meeting a woman who would change his life - Jenny McCarthy, who he began dating in 2005.
Their relationship quickly became serious, as Jim struck up a close bond with the model’s autistic son Evan. "Beyond doubt it was written in the stars that Jim and Evan were a pair," said Jenny.
"He's actually helped Evan get past some obstacles I couldn't. I sometimes call him the autism whisperer. He speaks a language Evan understands, and Evan feels safe with him."
The pair are activists for the Generation Rescue foundation, an autism charity.
The jester's sober side has also been evident in his forays into serious acting. His portrayal of cult comedian Andy Kauffman in the biopic Man On The Moon
was roundly applauded by critics, and films like The Truman Show
and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
have also proved his aptitude for more complex roles.
But it is his wacky physical humour which continues to earn him upwards of $25 million a movie. And when asked about its origins, Jim admits being zany was always his number one talent. "It started in second grade - I was in music class and we were practising for the Christmas assembly," he reveals. "One day I started fooling around by mocking the musicians on a record. The teacher thought she'd embarrass me by making me get up and do what I was doing in front of the whole class. So I went up and did it she laughed, and the whole class went nuts.. That was the beginning of the end."
In 2010, Jim announced the sad news that he and Jenny had split after five years together. “Jenny and I have just ended our 5yr relationship. I'm grateful 4 the many blessings we've shared and I wish her the very best! S'okay!” he wrote on Twitter.