Jim Carrey’s Friends Believed ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ Would Flop: ‘They’d Laugh at Me’
The best comedy stars might make it look easy, but make no mistake: getting laughs is harder than it looks. Take Jim Carrey, for instance. The actor took a chance on a little movie called Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994. And while that movie would ultimately launch him into superstardom, its success was far from a sure thing. In fact, Carrey faced some gentle ridicule from those closest to him before the movie was released to theaters.
Jim Carrey was best known for ‘In Living Color’ in the 1990s
In the years before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective made him a movie star, most fans knew Carrey from Fox’s sketch comedy series In Living Color. On that show, Carrey even developed his own signature character in Fire Marshall Bill. But as much as he became a standout for his work among the cast — which also included Tommy Davidson, Damon Wayans, and David Alan Grier — big-screen stardom had long eluded Carrey.
1985’s Once Bitten gave Carrey the chance to play his first lead role in a major movie. But in the years after its release, he mostly played supporting roles. It wasn’t until Ace Ventura: Pet Detective — followed closely by The Mask and Dumb and Dumber — that Carrey became the big-screen comedy star fans know him as today.
‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ made him an instant movie star
Against all odds, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was the perfect marriage of an over-the-top star with offbeat material. Carrey — who shares screenplay credit with director Tom Shadyac — turned his larger-than-life character into one fans could root for. Instantly, a comedy movie star was born. But before moviegoers met Ace Ventura, Carrey’s In Living Color co-workers were less than hopeful the movie would be a hit, the actor told The Hollywood Reporter.
“David Alan Grier would go out in the audience and say, ‘Jim, in his hiatus, is gonna be doing a movie called Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Let’s wish him luck with that.’ And everybody would scoff at me — they’d fake-applaud and laugh at me.”
In hindsight, the concept of a private detective who works exclusively on animal cases could have been the wrong kind of laughable. In Carrey’s hands, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective sailed to $107 million worldwide against a $15 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. A sequel, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, hit theaters just a year later and nearly doubled the worldwide box office total of its predecessor.
Jim Carrey could be returning to his breakthrough role soon
Even though Carrey’s career eventually incorporated more dramatic roles too, the actor continues to deliver stellar comedy. Most recently, 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog showed Carrey is more than willing to indulge his silly side just like that earlier phase of his career. He’s even returning for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, set for release in April 2022.
But if reports from IGN and others are accurate, Carrey could be entertaining a return to Ace Ventura. The actor hasn’t played the role since 1995, but it remains one of his most notable characters. Though a new movie is in development, it’s unclear if Carrey is committed. Judging by the negative response to the 2009 direct-to-video spinoff, Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective, it’s hard to imagine another movie in the series getting made without Carrey.