From clown to award-winning dramatic actor: examining the career of Jim Carrey.

Discover Hollywood’s ultimate master of burlesque comedy, who made his dream of fame a reality and became a living piece of art.

The Interview

Unifrance: How did you come up with the idea of this profile of Jim Carrey?

Adrien Denouette

Adrien Denouette, writer and director: I used to associate Jim Carrey with gimmicks and silly humor, but with Dumb and Dumber in 1994, I discovered his potentially subversive tone and unique comic power. As I grew older I came to see what a paradox he was: he is one of the best paid actors in Hollywood but has remained disruptive within show business and is critical of American values. In 1994, The Mask was a massive hit generating $352 million at the box office. It also garnered multiple awards, bringing Carrey to the height of his international fame. As a writer and director, I realized that little had been written or filmed about him, so I decided to write a book. A year later, I managed to make this documentary with Bellota Films’ Dominique Barneaud and ARTE, retracing where Carrey comes from and what he has brought to the film industry. 

Dominique Barneaud

Dominique Barneaud, producer: This film profiles the most disruptive Captain America in Hollywood, the one with no limits in terms of the outrage he could provoke. He is someone who knew that fools could capture the essence of a decade, making fun of the American ideal, revealing the cracks in the “winner ” generation, and holding a magnifying glass up to the racial and economic divide. A profile on such a thought-provoking icon of popular cinema immediately attracted ARTE’s attention and pushed them to commission the film.

The film should air in the coming year on ARTE having premiered at the Deauville American Film Festival in September this year.

Unifrance: What makes Carrey’s acting performances so unique?

Isabelle Graziadey

Isabelle Graziadey, executive Director International Copro, Sales & Acquisitions with Terranoa: This documentary reveals what a genius artist he is, both as a burlesque actor in hilarious films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) and also in more dramatic ones such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and The Truman Show (1998), for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor. Carrey’s career has spanned 40 years so far and includes more than 50 feature films, which shows how his work has shifted from burlesque comedy to more dramatic roles that have earned him the praise of his peers and the general public. In his burlesque acting, he is able to pinpoint America’s most grotesque behaviors and turn them into larger-than-life characters. His films have something to say about the “winner” generation of the 1980s and 90s and our consumerist society, and also about the downside of the American Dream.

UniFrance: The Mask (1994), Dumb & Dumber (1994), The Truman Show (1998): Jim Carrey’s filmography has left its mark on a whole generation.

Adrien Denouette: Carrey was the pulling face of the Clinton years , the link between Charlie Chaplin and the cartoons in Roger Rabbit, the last explosion of dumb laughter before the depression ushered in by 9/11. He was also the first and only white actor on the popular Fox Entertainment TV show In Living Color in the 90s. He was very involved as a producer and director in some of his films. This profile looks at Jim Carrey’s stellar career and awesome talent, revealing his cynical, elusive and disruptive facets. He has really transcended his initial roles as the “fool” and made his mark as an artist. Today, burlesque comedy and cartoon-like performances are being rejected in favor of less subversive digital animation and superheroes within studio franchises.

Unifrance: What is your distribution strategy for Jim Carrey, America Unmasked?

Isabelle Graziadey: As a distributor, we felt the film could address a large audience across all ages – from the generation who grew up with The Mask when Carrey was at his pinnacle, and younger audiences who can still relate to his outrageous performances and appreciate his wacky personality. Many of Jim Carrey’s films have become references in their genre, for example Ace Ventura, Men on the Moon and The Truman Show, and are loved by generations of comedy and movie fans.

Unifrance: And sales have you made so far?

Isabelle Graziadey:Sales have already been made with TSR, RTBF and Ceska TV. We are expecting more soon in Poland and Australia.

Unifrance: What is your favorite Jim Carrey film?

Adrien Denouette andDominique Barneaud: Me, Myself and Irene (2000), directed by the Farelly Brothers. It’s Carrey’s most burlesque acting performance and a film that portrays manhood in the funniest way.  

Isabelle Graziadey: The Truman Show (1998), directed by Peter Weir, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), directed by Michel Gondry. These films show this extremely subtle and sensitive dramatic actor at his best.