Jim Carrey Took a Wild Pay Cut to Star in His Most Acclaimed Movie

Since his breakthrough year in 1994, Jim Carrey has made so many movies. Of course, he’s mostly known for his comedic roles in films like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. But Carrey has willingly taken a pay cut for a riskier project in the past. Among those for which he has earned significantly less than his going rate is the film role many consider the best of his entire career.

‘Bruce Almighty’ star Jim Carrey smiles and poses on the red carpet
‘Bruce Almighty’ star Jim Carrey | Vince Bucci

Jim Carrey broke ground as Hollywood’s first $20 million movie star

Following his trio of 1994 hits, Carrey became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand movie stars. The next year, he starred in both Batman Forever — the year’s highest-grossing movie — and fast-tracked sequel Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. They each became blockbuster hits and set the stage for Carrey to break new ground in the industry.

For 1996’s The Cable Guy, Carrey famously became the first actor to earn a $20 million paycheck for a movie. Now The Cable Guy is regarded as a cult classic. But the movie’s reception at the time didn’t exactly warrant Carrey’s salary. According to Box Office Mojo, The Cable Guy earned $60 million in domestic theaters. Carrey’s salary accounted for nearly half of the entire movie’s production budget.

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The actor took a very steep pay cut the year after ‘Bruce Almighty’

In short order, $20 million paychecks became popular in Hollywood. And by the time 2003’s Bruce Almighty came along, Carrey landed another epic salary. According to The Richest, the actor earned $25 million to play a reporter who receives the power of God. Bruce Almighty went on to earn $485 million at the worldwide box office. But Carrey didn’t hesitate to drop his asking price significantly for his next movie.

The Richest reports that Carrey earned $10 million for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Of course, that salary is still very solid. But compared to how much he normally makes for big studio movies, it is a steep drop. However, Carrey’s willingness to sign on for the movie speaks to how much he believed in the movie. Many fans and critics consider his performance as lovelorn Joel Barish to be one of Carrey’s finest ever.

Jim Carrey has made his peace with becoming an A-list movie star

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wouldn’t be the last time Carrey would step aside from his usual comic persona. The actor routinely alternates between broad studio fare and more idiosyncratic movies. And with his recent announcement that he’s considering retirement, fans worry he might not make another small movie.

After all, Carrey’s — so far — final two films are 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog and its 2022 sequel. Both films have proven to be box office hits. So perhaps, at the very least, Carrey might continue on as Dr. Robotnik for a while longer before calling it quits.

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