In their directorial debut, the Farrelly brothers scored a huge hit with their 1994 buddy comedy Dumb and Dumber. But actually getting this film to the big screen was an uphill battle. Most agents wouldn't even look at a script titled Dumb and Dumber. "Then we named it A Power Tool is Not a Toy, which sounded hip, and they started reading it," Peter Farrelly explained. Even with a new (temporary) name, many studios still rejected it. According to producer Charles B. Wessler, "I got calls from executives saying, 'Why would you send me this s—?'"
Finally, New Line Cinema took a chance on Dumb and Dumber—but the studio's constant blunders nearly torpedoed the movie more than once. First, they tried to control the casting, but all of their "approved" choices—including Steve Martin, Gary Oldman, and Nicolas Cage—passed on the project. When the Farrellys got Jim Carrey interested, New Line decided his $400,000 fee was too much. Carrey soon rocketed to stardom with Ace Ventura, and the studio belatedly changed its tune. They ended up paying $7 million to sign him, which was nearly half of the movie's $16 million budget. After this costly mistake, New Line fought back—hard—when the Farrellys and Carrey requested Jeff Daniels as the other lead. "They said, 'Please, anyone but him,'" Bobby Farrelly recalled. Hoping he'd turn it down, the studio offered Daniels a measly $50,000. Thankfully for fans, he didn't say no—because who could imagine Nic Cage and Martin Short as Harry and Lloyd?