The Moment That Made Jim Carrey Fall In Love With Movies

Cinema is a powerful medium that means different things to different people. Whether inspiring us through the onscreen action or serving as a means of escape by taking us to worlds that don't exist, movies can be quite cathartic. And sometimes, the simple act of going to the movie theater can make a world of difference.

In the case of Jim Carrey, a trip to a movie theater became a pivotal moment in his life. Before becoming one of Hollywood's most eclectic leading men, Carrey was a struggling kid in Canada whose family had fallen on hard times. Known as one of today's most versatile actors, his journey to Hollywood was a long and complicated one — and one specific visit to the theater made him fall in love with movies, putting him on the path to stardom.

He worked in a factory as a teen

The origins of Jim Carrey's movie career could best be described as meteoric. In 1994 he came out of relative television obscurity with the surprise hit "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," allowing him to negotiate his salary up from $350,000 to $7 million for "Dumb and Dumber." Carrey then became the first actor to receive $20 million for his role in "The Cable Guy." Not bad for a kid that had to work full time while in school. 

According to The Morning Call, Carrey's family fell on hard times when his father lost his job, and at one point the actor was a janitor at Toronto's Titan Wheels factory — working a full eight-hour shift after the school day ended. Things got to be so bad that the family lived out of a Volkswagen van. Carry turned to movies to get him through the tough times. He said at age seven he saw his first movie, "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" starring Kurt Russell. Carrey recalled:

"I saw it at the Willow Show on Yonge street in Toronto. I'll never forget that day. I was so thrilled to be in a movie theater. To me, movies are dreams. And the most important thing when you go to the movies is that you see people up there, making the right decisions or making the wrong decisions and trying to get back on the right path."

That experience started a love affair with movies that would take Carrey a long way from living out of a van. It was a journey that would take him on a career path very similar to that of another comedy legend.

Initially, he was afraid to show his feelings

Carrey's transition from comedy to other genres mirrors that of Robin Williams. Like Williams did with "Dead Poets Society," Carrey used blended comedy-dramas such as "The Truman Show" and "The Majestic" to help the public see him as more than just a slapstick comedy actor. In explaining the transition, Carrey explained:

"I've always been introspective. It used to be that I was so afraid that if I showed people I had feelings, they'd think I was broken. But now, my experience is that people find honesty refreshing and uplifting."

Carrey's evolution gave him the freedom to be more selective in his roles, which would span from the genre-bending "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," the crime biography "I Love You Phillip Morris," and more recently the thriller "Dark Crimes."

And like Williams, Carrey has publicly battled depression and has a history of bizarre public behavior, including a more than energetic interview on Good Morning America in 2020.

But that hasn't stopped him from becoming one of today's most versatile actors in Hollywood, channeling his emotions into his work. "I am always this close to breaking down and sobbing anyway," Carrey said. "I'm joyful. I'm in agony. I'm experiencing all the things that human beings experience. The great thing about what I do is that I can express those feelings in my work."

Although he recently announced he's contemplating retiring from acting, there's no doubt that his love affair with movies will endure — and it all stems from a trip to the theater when he was seven.