Why Hollywood won't cast Jim Carrey anymore

Jim Carrey is one of the most polarizing celebrities around. Some people will go see anything he's in, while others leave the theater if he even shows up in a trailer. He was once a common feature in big-budget comedies, serving as the tentpole for films like Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show, Liar Liar and more, but he's been seen on screen less and less in recent years. Here's why Hollywood won't cast Jim Carrey anymore.

He's too much of a risk

One big problem with Carrey: it's hard to tell whether audiences will love or hate him. The comedian's over-the-top antics work in some roles, but in others, they can fail spectacularly. Comments on the website The Top Tens, which ranks Carrey as the 47th worst actor or actress of all time, range from "Can't stand this guy" to "Don't know why he's on this list, he's hilarious!" Studios may not want to take the risk on an actor who has such an unpredictably polarizing effect on filmgoers.

He's not as much of a box office draw as he used to be

Back in the day, Carrey-starring films like Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar and The Truman Show were surefire box office hits, but his more recent films have been less of a guarantee. While Dumb and Dumber To did well at the box office, earning $169 million worldwide on a $40 million budget, other non-franchise films like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and I Love You Phillip Morris have not been as successful, with Wonderstone earning $27 million on a $30 million budget and Phillip Morris bringing in $20.7 million against a $13 million budget. Studios want a bankable star before betting on a big-budget film, and Carrey no longer fits the bill.

He stopped promoting Kick-Ass 2

Carrey's quirkiness ran head-on into his work obligations when he decided he could no longer promote Kick-Ass 2. According to The Washington Post, Carrey spoke out against the ultra-violent flick in a couple of tweets that linked his discomfort with the film to the mass shooting in Sandy Hook, which occurred after the film wrapped. Kick-Ass comic book creator and executive producer on the film Mark Millar shot back in a since-deleted open letter, which was quoted at the time by Think Progress. In it, Millar suggested that the film is actually a statement on the consequences of violence, and also points out: "Ironically, Jim's character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place." While it's impossible to say for sure that Carrey was widely saddled with the dreaded "difficult" label after that, it's a good bet that at least one producer isn't champing at the bit to cast him anymore.

His method acting got crazy during Man on the Moon

While Carrey got plenty of acting work after 1999's Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, there were a few stories about his method acting for the film that could give any studio pause before hiring him. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Paul Giamatti, who played Kaufman's friend and collaborator Bob Zmuda, said Carrey refused to break character, even when dressed as Kaufman's obnoxious alter ego Tony Clifton. This meant Carrey would play Clifton's favorite gag on people, which was to keep Limburger cheese in his pockets and smear it on their hands when he shook them. Giamatti also said Carrey brought "20 or 30 Hell's Angels to the set" for no apparent reason.

Speaking with Deadline, Carrey even admitted that while in character as Clifton he refused to take direction from director Miloš Forman, and endlessly irritated the rest of the cast. There was also behind-the-scenes footage being shot the whole time that Universal Studios intended on using as part of an "electronic press kit," but they decided to shelve it because it would "make [Carrey] look bad." That means the studio had a golden opportunity to basically market a film as "the one Jim Carrey lost his mind making," but even they were too scared to use it for fear of ruining his career.

Fun fact: That footage has now been used to make the 2017 Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – With a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton.

There may be issues getting him insured

Another crazy story from the set of Man on the Moon is the time Carrey got wrestler Jerry Lawler to "injure his neck" in an echo of the famous piledriver injury that Andy Kaufman supposedly incurred during his bout with the wrestler in the '80s. Speaking with TMZ, Lawler said that Carrey secretly tried to arrange it so Lawler would piledrive him instead of the stuntman, but Lawler blew the whole thing when he told the director. Furious, Carrey allegedly spat in Lawler's face, which led Lawler to put Carrey in a "front face lock," meaning the actor's head was basically in the wrestler's vice-like arm grip. At that point, Lawler said Carrey's bodyguard started pulling on Carrey's legs, which could have caused "some trauma to his neck." So, Carrey didn't get to take a piledriver, but he got his neck injury story blasted all over the press, and if there's one thing movie studios love, it's having their insurance writers see on the evening news that the star of their movie got injured on the set.

He's been dealing with some personal issues

Carrey is currently fighting against wrongful death suits from the mother and ex-husband of his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White, who died of an intentional drug overdose in 2016. White's mother alleges that Carrey knowingly gave her daughter "three sexually transmitted diseases" and then lied to her, threatened her and broke up with her to protect his public image. Carrey has said the allegations are "irrelevant, false and improper," calling them a "shameless shakedown for money."

Her ex-husband's suit reiterates the STD claim, and also alleges that Carrey gave White the drugs on which she overdosed. Carrey responded by saying in a statement, "I will not tolerate this heartless attempt to exploit me or the woman I loved," and filed a countersuit to really underscore his anger over the allegations.

He's gone public with some pretty controversial beliefs

Carrey has been vocal about his stance on some controversial political issues, most notably vaccines. The actor has called them poison and referred to California governor Jerry Brown as a "corporate fascist" who "must be stopped" after the politician put a law in place banning personal exemptions from required vaccinations. While personal beliefs are personal beliefs, it can be risky for a studio to go with an actor who could alienate audiences with his political comments—especially those relating to public health.

Jim Carrey no longer exists

Actually, he never did. Sound weird? Well, strap in, because this rabbit hole goes deep. In recent years, the actor who once sang out of his butt has become something of a spiritual voyager. In 2009, he addressed at the inaugural event for the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, during which he spoke of "intention," as well as "the power of consciousness." During a 2014 commencement speech at Maharishi University, he spoke again of intention and "asking the universe" to help fulfill impossible dreams.

Fast forward three years, when Carrey popped up at Fashion Week in New York. In a bizarre interview with E! News, he explained that he only showed up because he "wanted to find the most meaningless thing" he could join. He then told interviewer Catt Sadler, "I don't believe in personalities. I don't believe that you exist, but there is a wonderful fragrance in the air…I believe we're a field of energy dancing for itself and I don't care…there is no me, there's just things happening and there are clusters of tetrahedrons moving around together." Alrighty then. So what does all of this have to do with getting cast in movies? Glad you asked.

He won't take a role unless it 'chooses' him

In an interview at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, Carrey tied his existential worldview to his career. After waxing philosophic again about how there is no Jim Carrey and there never was, he explained that he would "disappear for long periods of time" in order to return to the scene with a new skill or attribute. "It's like you cut, you lop your right arm off to learn how to right with your left, and then you sew the right arm back on when you've learned and then you go 'Hey, check it out! [Carrey waves both arms around] You know and then you come back, still you can do the old stuff, but the new stuff is there, too."

But the self-imposed hiatuses are only part of it. When asked how he chose the characters he's played over the years, Carrey said, "They're attracted to whatever that magnetism is at that time. I don't really look for things, and it's the same with painting and sculpting or whatever. I'll just start, and it happens that later on my subconscious mind told me something, just like the scripts tell me something about where I was at, and so, they find me." Of course, we're not trying to knock Carrey's spirituality at all, or even imply that studios would have a problem with it. It's just that they may not be so inclined to option a hot new Ace Ventura 3 script if they have to wait until Carrey is 80 before he's divinely inspired to tackle the role again.

He hasn't been nominated for any major awards recently

Carrey was a hit with critics in the late 1990s and early 2000s, earning four Golden Globe nominations and two wins in just ten years. However, the actor hasn't been nominated for a major award since his appearance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004. (Although there was some critical buzz for I Love You Phillip Morris, he missed out on all the major ceremonies.)

In fact, since Eternal Sunshine, Carrey's biggest awards recognition—aside from People's Choice Awards and the like—was a Razzie nomination for worst actor in The Number 23. Not exactly what casting directors are looking for.

And he's happy that way

Carrey seems like he's pretty happy with life behind the camera, saying during a press panel at the Television Critics Association that he's "in the process of shedding layers of persona at this time in my life. … I'm very happy to [be] here for these guys and watch these guys enter this world and create these characters who are looking to create a cadence and a persona and something that will draw people's attention to them."

He reiterated that in an appearance at Pasadena's Icehouse Comedy Club, saying on stage, "I have nothing to say! I'm not hungry anymore. I've done it all!"

He's busy mentoring the next generation of actors

Apparently, in his spare time, Carrey has been giving life-changing, Vanity Fair-cover feature worthy advice to none other than Chris Pratt, who says he idolized the comedian growing up. "There's very few people in the world who I can expect to understand exactly what I'm going through," Pratt told the magazine. "Jim Carrey is one of them."

He later added that, when he asked Carrey for advice on what his next career move should be, the actor said, "There's going to be a point in life where you're going to have to prove that your family is more important to you than show business," leading to Pratt taking a self-imposed hiatus from the industry.

He's been working behind the camera

Carrey has been spending more time behind the camera in recent years, working as the creator and executive producer of the upcoming Showtime series I'm Dying Up Here. The series draws from Carrey's experiences as a stand-up comic, starring Melissa Leo as the owner of a comedy club in the 1970s. Carrey doesn't act in the show, which was renewed for a second season, but he's been actively promoting the project and working on it behind the scenes.

He's been focused on making art for the past several years

With the release of the 2017 mini-documentary I Need Color, Carrey's not-so-well-kept secret, that he's a prolific painter and sculptor, has gone viral. But the comedian previously revealed his alternative creative passion to Jerry Seinfeld in a 2015 episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. During the episode (via The Wrap), Carrey brought Seinfeld into his cavernous home studio, which he referred to as "a womb," and revealed a trove of painting, sculptures, sketches and mixed media work. As he told Seinfeld during the episode, "I could disappear from show business forever and feel wonderful about what I've done."

Carrey also referred to the artwork as "kind of my first love in a way" during an interview with Deadline, as well as mentioned that he's also working on a novel. With all that going on, does he even have time to do a film? And actually, the better question is: does he have the stomach for it anymore? If his recent existential rants are any indication, the answer is probably not.

He signed on for a Showtime series called Kidding

Like many film stars have done in recent years, Carrey has pivoted to the ever-growing world of "prestige television." Variety reports that the rubber-faced funnyman is attached to a series called Kidding for Showtime, which has him playing a veteran children's entertainer whose "family begins to implode." Has Carrey abandoned the fanfare of blockbuster films for the more intimate environs of television productions? It's starting to look that way.

How he can turn his career around

For Carrey, the secret to turning his career around could lie in his return to the small screen. The actor may not have the box-office bang required to sell a blockbuster anymore, but with his decision to move into a smaller market, he will be a big fish in a (somewhat) smaller pond. The aforementioned Showtime series he's slated to star in has the potential to revitalize his career—and maybe even lead him back to movie roles in the future.