Jim Carrey Was the First Actor To Get Paid $20 Million For a Film — But Admits the Money Didn’t Make Him Happier

Jim Carrey is one of the most successful comedians to ever enter the entertainment industry. Having starred in hit movies such as Liar Liar, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Mask, he accumulated a net worth of around $180 million.

Carrey was one of Hollywood’s hottest actors in the 1990s and early 2000s, and his earnings certainly proved it. He became the first actor to ever get paid $20 million for a film after starring in The Cable Guy.

However, despite the massive net worth Carrey has accumulated, he maintains that money does not buy happiness. In fact, it was only after he became extremely rich that Carrey realized he hadn’t become any happier.

Jim Carrey was the first actor to get paid $20 million for a film role

Jim Carrey attends a photocall for "Dumb and Dumber To"
Jim Carrey attends a photocall for “Dumb and Dumber To” | Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

Jim Carrey Only Made $450,000 for Smash Hit Comedy, ‘The Mask,’ Due to Bizarre Timing

Jim Carrey initially made his mark in the entertainment industry as a comedian seen on the sketch comedy show, In Living Color. Working on the show from 1990 to 1994, he was able to showcase his range of skills as a comedian and generate a buzz for himself.

When In Living Color ended in1994, Carrey had positioned himself as a bonafide funny man, and Hollywood studios were interested. He began working on a string of successful movies in 1994, which included The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Dumb and Dumber.

By the time he signed on to star in The Cable Guy in 1996, he was a household name that was guaranteed to fill seats at movie theaters. Knowing this, studios offered him a hefty salary of $20 million for the film, which was historic at the time. According to Business Insider, no other actor had been paid $20 million for a role at that point, but several would after. 

He wrote himself a $10 million check when he was broke and unknown 

Even though Carrey’s $20 million payday was shocking to many, he was not surprised. He’d been working hard to reach a very specific monetary goal that few people knew about. 

According to a 1997 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Carrey had written himself a $10 million check long before he ever became rich or famous. Carrey personally believed that the power of manifestation and visualizing his dreams brought the money to him. 

“I would visualize having directors interested in me, and people that I respected saying, ‘I like your work,’ or whatever that is,” Carrey said. “And I would visualize things coming to me that I wanted or whatever.”

Carrey confirmed that he was doing the exercise between 1985 and 1987, way before anyone had even heard of him in Hollywood. 

“I wrote myself a check for $10 million for ‘acting services rendered’ and I gave myself five years—or three years, maybe—and I dated it Thanksgiving 1995. … Just before Thanksgiving 1995, I found out I was gonna make $10 million on I think it was Dumb and Dumber.” 

The money didn’t make Jim Carrey happy

Even though he was making more money in a year than most people do in their lifetime, Carrey didn’t feel any happier while he was earning mountains of cash. 

In a separate interview with The Talks, Carrey noted that he’d undergone a spiritual transformation after achieving all of his goals, largely because the money didn’t satisfy him. 

“I guess just getting to the place where you have everything everybody has ever desired and realizing you are still unhappy,” Carrey said. “And that you can still be unhappy is a shock when you have accomplished everything you ever dreamt of and more and then you realize, ‘My gosh, it’s not about this.’ And I wish for everyone to be able to accomplish those things so they can see that.”