9 Milestones in the Evolution of Jim Carrey

In this weekend's Mr. Popper's Penguins, Jim Carrey plays a ruthless Manhattan businessman who is unexpectedly bequeathed a brood of penguins. How did Carrey transform himself from the Hollywood goofball talking out of his butt cheeks in Ace Ventura to the buttoned-up father figure in this family comedy from 20th Century Fox?

You can always trace a direct line through a few important roles to illustrate what led to an actor's current success. So let's look at nine pivotal performances that track the evolution of Jim Carrey.

In Living Color (1990)

Compared to most Hollywood actors and actresses, 28 is a little "old" to be breaking into the business. Yet that is how old the Ontario-born actor/comedian was when he was hired by Keenen Ivory Wayans to star on the Fox sketch show In Living Color. Before In Living Color, Carrey had spent nearly a decade in Los Angeles going on failed auditions (for Saturday Night Live among many others), landing bit parts (like in Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married) and honing the physical comedy skills that would make him one of the most bankable movie stars of the '90s.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Four years later, Jim Carrey would have one of the most successful working years of any actor in recent memory. In February, the unknown comic hit the box office with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, playing a wacky, loose-limbed P.I. opposite Courteney Cox. For this role, Carrey was nominated for a Razzie. In July, Carrey returned to the multiplex with The Mask, where he again played the wacky, loose-limbed title character. This time, his effort was rewarded with a first Golden Globe nomination. In December, Dumb and Dumber hit theaters, cementing Carrey's movie star status. All together, the comedian's films that year grossed over $700 million worldwide.

The Cable Guy (1996)

After playing The Riddler in Batman Forever and reprising his Ace Ventura character in When Nature Calls, Carrey earned $20 million -- the highest paycheck commanded by any comedy actor until that point -- for his stuttering, starring role in Ben Stiller's dark comedy The Cable Guy. Although the film received mixed reviews, The Cable Guy still found a cult following and Carrey was easily able to rebound from the critical failure the next year with Liar, Liar.

The Truman Show (1998)

Having proven his ability to command comedy audiences, Carrey rerouted his career in the late '90s to prove that he was as flexible dramatically as he was physically. In Peter Weir's The Truman Show, Carrey held his own against Laura Linney and Ed Harris as a man who is at first unaware of the fact that his life is being broadcast to the world as a reality television show. In spite of garnering Oscar buzz for his role, Carrey did not receive an Academy Award nomination (although the film received three), but he did win his first Golden Globe. Carrey followed this critical success with another in Milos Forman's Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, for which Carrey earned another Golden Globe.

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