Jim Carrey Was Paid 20 Times More Than Jeff Daniels For Dumb & Dumber

While trying to produce their first film, Bobby and Peter Farrelly (better known as the Farrelly Brothers) had to hide the name of the title just to get people interested in it. "Dumb & Dumber" was often sent to studios and agents titled "A Power Tool is Not a Toy," so they wouldn't discard the script. After the film's success in 1994, everything changed for the Farrelly Brothers. They would become a comedy tour de force, producing a string of hits in the 1990s and 2000s, including "There's Something About Mary" and "Me, Myself & Irene."

But there is something truly special about "Dumb & Dumber" besides the zany antics of best friends and aspiring worm farmers Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne. The bold buddy comedy challenged Hollywood's expectations of the genre while also creating a massive chasm when it came to paying its top stars. The Farrelly Brothers' gutsy decision to cast a non-comedic actor opposite a burgeoning Jim Carrey led to the "Ace Venture: Pet Detective" star making 140 times what his co-star Jeff Daniels made.

The studio never wanted Jeff Daniels

According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Farrelly Brothers tried for four years to get actors attached to "Dumb and Dumber." After more than 100 actors passed on the project, largely because of the name, the duo got the script in front of Jim Carrey. Peter Farrelly recalled:

"[Jim Carrey] read the script and totally responded to it in a way that we hoped somebody would one day. And so when we met with him, he was like, he got it exactly like we got it, and so we thought this guy would be perfect for it."

Carrey was cast as Lloyd Christmas after the lengthy search, but the Farrelly Brothers' work wasn't done yet. For the role of Harry Dunne, the filmmaking duo wanted Jeff Daniels (after Nicolas Cage turned them down). New Line Cinema, however, did not. In fact, the studio told the filmmakers, "Please, anyone but him. Go get a comedic actor."

The brothers were adamant about casting Daniels as Harry, citing his work in 1986's "Something Wild" and the chemistry between him and Carrey. The studio finally relented, throwing out the smallest of olive branches. They offered Daniels $50,000 for the role, expecting him to turn down the meager offer. Daniels, excited about the opportunity of working with Carrey, agreed to the number.

The salary disparity would soon become even bigger because of the unexpected stardom of Jim Carrey.

Jim Carrey was supposed to make a lot less

Carrey's big payday for "Dumb and Dumber" was due to good timing. He was originally slated to make just $350,000 for the film. The deal was negotiated but never locked in, and suddenly Carrey became a huge star. To everyone's surprise, "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" reached number one at the box office, and with each week at the top, Carrey's salary demands would get higher.

Armed with new leverage, Carrey was able to negotiate up to a $7 million payday, the most for any comedic actor at that time. The figure was almost half of the film's $16 million budget. The Farrelly Brothers didn't take it personally, as it was the studio's money being spent rather than their own. Peter Farrelly said:

"Yeah, the studio, you know, we don't care. We always want the actors to get as much as they can. We're rooting for them to get it."

The Farrelly Brothers were so happy with the casting of Carrey and Daniels that they refused to do another "Dumb & Dumber" movie without them. They passed on the 2003 prequel "Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" before returning to the franchise with the sequel "Dumb and Dumber To" that reunited Carrey and Daniels in 2014. Daniels, who was making $150,000 per episode for HBO's "Newsroom" at the time the sequel was made, no doubt made much more than $50,000 the second time around.