Splitsider

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

The Lost Roles of Jim Carrey

Casting is one of the most important processes in movie making. Placing the right actors in the right roles can determine whether or not an entire film rings true. Thus, casting directors and filmmakers consider a variety of possibilities before going into production. Lost Roles is a weekly series that examines the missed opportunities — the roles that could have been — and explores how some casting choices that almost happened could have changed the film industry and the comedy world, at large.

After spending the ‘80s as a standup comedian struggling to make a name for himself as an actor, Jim Carrey finally got his big break starring in the popular Fox sketch show In Living Color in 1990. He became the show’s most popular cast member and used his newfound fame to make the leap to movies. Carrey has sustained a career as a leading man for nearly two decades now, and he’s even managed to make the difficult transition to dramatic acting that’s eluded many a comic performer.

Along the way, Jim Carrey has racked up on impressive list of parts he was either turned down or was considered for, including Ferris Bueller, Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow and Dr. Evil.

1. Saturday Night Live (multiple auditions in the ‘80s)
Jim Carrey auditioned to be part of the cast of SNL multiple times in the 1980s. One of Carrey’s unsuccessful bids was in 1986, the year that Lorne Michaels was assembling a new cast after the disappointing 1985-86 season. The producers added Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks to the cast, but passed up Jim Carrey. This is one of the strongest casts in the show’s history, but it’s questionable how Carrey would have fit in. His brand of over-the-top physical comedy would have been at odds with the more-nuanced comic stylings of some of these other performers. On the other hand, Carrey has since given impressive sketch performances on In Living Color and with his guest-hosting gigs on SNL. His placement in the Saturday Night Live cast in the ‘80s could have been even more successful than his run on In Living Color, due to the show’s larger viewership and solid track record of churning out stars. If he were successful on SNL, Carrey would have been able to start his career as a lead actor much earlier.

In the book, Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels tried to downplay his involvement in the decision not to hire Carrey:

“Jim Carrey never auditioned for me personally. There is an audition tape which we almost played on the twenty-fifth anniversary show — if he had come that night, we would have.” (p. 300)

I’d really love to see that audition footage, and I hope we don’t have to wait until the show’s 50th anniversary for it to surface.

2. Sixteen Candles (1984)
The role: Ted (a.k.a. “The Geek”)
Who got it: Anthony Michael Hall
Carrey was amongst the actors considered to play this nerdy character in the John Hughes teen classic. A young Jim Carrey’s incarnation of Ted may have lacked the innocence and subtlety of Hall's, but it probably worked out best for Carrey in the long run to have missed out on this one. After Sixteen Candles, Anthony Michael Hall was swept up into the Brat Pack and had trouble finding success after his teenage years had passed. If Carrey had suffered the same fate, it would have prevented his career from blowing up in the '90s. On the plus side, Anthony Michael Hall was able to parlay his teen movie stardom into a brief stint on Saturday Night Live during the 1985-1986 season that also featured Joan Cusack, Randy Quaid, and Robert Downey Jr. If Jim Carrey had played Ted, it may have given him an edge that he didn't have during the other times he auditioned for the sketch show and he could have been cast.

3. Bachelor Party (1984)
The role: Rick Gassko
Who got it: Tom Hanks
Carrey was considered for the lead, along with fellow then-unknowns Tim Robbins and Howie Mandel. When the film went into production, Tom Hanks was mostly known for his part on the short-lived sitcom Bosom Buddies, so he wasn't too far out of Carrey’s fame class. Bachelor Party and the mermaid rom-com Splash shot Tom Hanks to movie stardom. If Carrey had landed the part, it would have made movie stardom more difficult for Hanks.

Jim Carrey would have been more than capable of pulling off an energetic performance akin to what Hanks does here, and his comic persona would work well within this movie's absurd universe. However, Tom Hanks keeps the film a little more grounded than Carrey would have, which makes the zaniness that surrounds his character much more believable and realistic. Despite this, starring in Bachelor Party at a young age could have done wonders for Carrey, possibly allowing him to kick off his career as a leading man a decade early.

4. Legend (1985)
The role: Jack
Who got it: Tom Cruise
Along with Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey was considered to play the lead in this Ridley Scott fantasy adventure. Although Carrey has shown a lot of diversity in his roles over the past several years, at this point in his career, his experience was mainly as a comedian. Now, Carrey has the dramatic chops to back up a part like this, but as a young comedic actor, he would have been out of place in Legend.

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The role: Ferris Bueller
Who got it: Matthew Broderick
When casting the lead in this seminal John Hughes seminal teen comedy, Jim Carrey was considered, along with John Cusack, Tom Cruise, and Michael J. Fox. Carrey could have done fine with the part and would have had a very different interpretation than Matthew Broderick’s; however, Broderick’s performance in this classic is perfect, and Carrey wasn’t as well-suited to play the charming, laid-back Ferris Bueller.

6. Back to School (1986)
The role: Professor Terguson
Who got it: Sam Kinison
Producers wanted Jim Carrey for the part of Rodney Dangerfield's history teacher. Dangerfield had given Carrey a major boost early on by hiring him as his opening act, and this would have been another instance of Dangerfield helping Carrey out. The producers eventually decided that Carrey was too young for the part. This makes perfect sense, as Sim Kinison’s character is a Vietnam vet, and Carrey was 13 when that war ended.

7. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The role: Edward Scissorhands
Who got it: Johnny Depp
Jim Carrey was considered for the title role, along with Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr.. As with Legend, Jim Carrey lacked experience as a dramatic actor during this period. His turn as Scissorhands would have been inadvertently more comedic than Depp's and would have jeopardized the project, as well as his own career.

8. Chaplin (1992)
The role: Charlie Chaplin
Who got it: Robert Downey Jr.
Jim Carrey was considered to play the iconic screen star during the casting process, but the film’s financiers were pushing for Billy Crystal or Robin Williams. Director Richard Attenborough held out and convinced the studio to allow him his first choice: Robert Downey Jr.

Carrey later exceled in another biopic about a comedian when he played Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, so he is capable of doing well in this kind of part. However, this was still early in his career before he began to take on weightier roles. There’s no doubt that Carrey would have been able to handle the physical comedy required in recreating Chaplin's films, but his career as a dramatic actor was still several years away at this time. Robert Downey Jr. received a great deal of acclaim for his performance, which was nominated for an Oscar and won a BAFTA. Carrey may have had a shot at pulling off the same thing if he had played the part. Either way, it would have been better than casting Robin Williams or Billy Crystal as Chaplin.

9. Encino Man (1992)
The role: Link
Who got it: Brendan Fraser
Jim Carrey and Nicolas Cage were considered to play the caveman that Sean Astin and Pauly Shore unearth. This was a breakthrough role for Brendan Fraser, and unlike some of the other parts listed here, this one seems well within Carrey's wheelhouse. Carrey would have been great as a caveman adjusting to modern times, and it would have boosted his stock as a movie star.

10. Toy Story (1995)
The role: Buzz Lightyear
Who got it: Tim Allen
Early in Toy Story's development, producers wanted Paul Newman as Woody and Jim Carrey as Buzz Lightyear, with the two actors representing Old Hollywood and New Hollywood, respectively. The film's budget couldn't accommodate the two stars, so Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were cast instead. Carrey seems like a born voice actor, and it's really surprising he didn't get into it until Horton Hears a Who in 2008. Starring in Toy Story would have been great for him. At the time, though, it would have been hard for Carrey and other actors to predict that Toy Story would have become such an influential, long-lasting massive hit.

11. Kingpin (1996)
The role: Ernie McCracken
Who got it: Bill Murray
Jim Carrey was the Farrelly Brothers' first choice for this supporting part. While Carrey would have been fine in the role, and he's proven he can work wonders in the Farrelly Brothers' comic universe, it's hard to imagine he'd be better suited to play Ernie McCracken. Part of what makes Ernie McCracken so funny is that he’s an older, over-the-hill guy who's struggling to keep it together. With Carrey in the role, the character would likely have been tweaked a fair amount. Bill Murray pretty much ignored the script on set and ad-libbed his way through his scenes, and the Farrelly Brothers were happy with his improvements. Lots of funny moments in Kingpin would have been lost with somebody else in the role.

12. Austin Power: International Man of Mystery (1997)
The role: Dr. Evil
Who got it: Mike Myers
Mike Myers sought out Jim Carrey to play Dr. Evil in the first Austin Powers, as his initial plan wasn't to play multiple characters in the series. Carrey was interested in the part but had a scheduling conflict with Liar Liar.

While Liar Liar was a big hit for Carrey and a film that put him front and center, playing Dr. Evil would have been a great boon to his career. However, given Carrey's reluctance to appear in sequels (more on that later), he may not have stuck around for future installments, which would have jeopardized the franchise, as well as the careers of Mike Myers and director Jay Roach. Myers plays Dr. Evil very well, partly basing his performance on SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Jim Carrey, having spent much less time around Michaels, wouldn't have been able to capture the comedy icon's verbal tics as well. If Carrey had taken the role, it's possible Mike Myers wouldn't have decided to play multiple characters in the sequels or in the Love Guru, which would have definitely been a good thing.

13. Meet the Parents (2000)
The role: Gaylord “Greg” Focker
Who got it: Ben Stiller
When Meet the Parents was first in development in 1996, Jim Carrey was attached to star and Steven Spielberg was planning on directing. Carrey and Spielberg each supplied the screenwriter with notes and suggestions for the script, and it was Carrey's idea to have the main character's last name be Focker. Spielberg and Carrey's schedules didn't line up right, and they both left the project.

Stiller's version is much beloved, but it would have been interesting to see the direction Jim Carrey would have taken the project. That version would have definitely included a lot more physical comedy. Spielberg's involvement is surprising, as the acclaimed director has only directed two comedies throughout his career: the disastrous WWII-themed 1941 and the Tom Hanks starrer The Terminal, which is more of a dramedy.

While There's Something About Mary is the hit that proved Ben Stiller to be a bankable leading man, Meet the Parents cemented that status for the star. Carrey taking this role would have sucked some momentum of out of Stiller's career, preventing him from landing some of the big parts he took after it. Also, Carrey's reluctance to do sequels would have come into play here, which would have prevented the less-liked Focker follow-ups.

14. Joe Somebody (2001)
The role: Joe Scheffer
Who got it: Tim Allen
Jim Carrey passed up this role to make The Majestic. Appearing in this forgettable comedy would have hurt Carrey's career (at a time when he needed a hit). While The Majestic wasn't a hit either, it was another opportunity for Carrey to show off his strengths as a dramatic actor. Starring in Joe Somebody, a flop comedy, could have led to Carrey being passed up for a different actor when it came time to make Bruce Almighty a couple years later, which ended up being one of the biggest successes of the actor's career to date.

15. Phone Booth (2002)
The role: Stu Shepard
Who got it: Colin Farrell
Jim Carrey was cast in the lead role but dropped out. This would have been an unusual choice for Carrey, but he could have done very well here. It would have been neat to see him leave his comfort zone and star in this thriller. Director Joel Schumacher had this to say:

“We were going to shoot it that summer and he was fitted for the suit. But I got a call from Jim one night and told me he had cold feet. He really didn’t feel comfortable with it. Actors never give up their role. If an actor gives up a part then it’s not right for them.”

16. Scooby-Doo (2002)
The role: Shaggy
Who got it: Matthew Lillard
When this project was originally in development back in 1996, Jim Carrey was attached to star as the owner of the titular mutt. While he doesn't bear much resemblance to the cartoon character Shaggy and his manic intensity doesn’t match Shaggy’s laid-back beatnik vibe, Carrey could have brought a lot of humor to this role. These Hanna-Barbera adaptations have never been well-received (The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, etc.), but Carrey's presence could have given Scooby-Doo a nice boost.

17. Master of Disguise (2002)
The role: Pistachio Disguisey
Who got it: Dana Carvey
Jim Carrey was the first choice for the lead role in this Adam Sandler-produced film, but he turned it down. Carrey dodged another bullet here, missing out on what ended up being a bomb in Dana Carvey's hands. Carvey had an opportunity to bounce back into features with Master of Disguise, his first big film role since 1994's Trouble in Paradise. If Jim Carrey had taken the part instead of him, Carvey may have been able to return to movie stardom with a more successful comedy, leading him to star in more projects.

18. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
The role: Jack Sparrow
Who got it: Johnny Depp
Along with Michael Keaton and Christopher Walken, Jim Carrey was considered for the part of Jack Sparrow. This would have been a lucrative and very successful part for Carrey, but the production schedule for the first Pirates film would have conflicted with Bruce Almighty's, which has been one of Carrey's biggest successes. This is also another project that would test Jim Carrey's aversion to sequels, as the Pirates franchise is still going strong eight years after this first installment.

Besides, Johnny Depp seems to be the main audience attractor with these films, and who knows if Carrey's version of Sparrow would have proven as popular? Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s yet to be a movie where Christopher Walken plays a pirate. Get on that, Hollywood!

19. Elf (2003)
The role: Buddy the Elf
Who got it: Will Ferrell
When the script for Elf first emerged in 1993, Jim Carrey was attached to star. The project didn't come into fruition until a decade later. By that time, he had moved on. This would have been a big fit for Carrey and something that would have utilized his penchant for physical comedy, but it's hard to argue he would have done nailed this cheerful role the way Ferrell did. By the time Elf was finally released, Jim Carrey had already starred in a blockbuster Christmas comedy of his own with How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

20. The Aviator (2004)
The role: Howard Hughes
Who got it: Leonardo DiCaprio
Jim Carrey had wanted to play Howard Hughes in a movie long before Martin Scorsese's The Aviator went into production. Carrey was considered for the part that went to DiCaprio, but before that, he was involved in another portrayal of Hughes. When Christopher Nolan began planning a Hughes biopic, he attached Jim Carrey to star, but the project fell apart when Scorsese's film was greenlit. With the recent news that Nolan is resurrecting his Hughes biopic project after he films the next Batman, could Jim Carrey still take the part?

21. Garfield (2004)
The role: Jon Arbuckle
Who got it: Breckin Meyer
Jim Carrey turned down the part, making this the second project on this list he passed up in which he would play the owner of a CGI pet. Although the first Garfield movie was successful, this is kind of a bland role and one that would have seen Carrey playing second fiddle to a computer-animated cat. It's probably for the best that he missed out on this one.

22. Bewitched (2005)
The role: Jack Wyatt/Darrin Stephens
Who got it: Will Ferrell
Jim Carrey was approached for the part but had to decline due to other commitments, which worked out since Carrey’s 2005 film, Fun with Dick and Jane, was more successful than this update of the classic '60s show.

23. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
The role: Willy Wonka
Who got it: Johnny Depp
Tim Burton considered casting Jim Carrey but decided against it, making this the millionth time Carrey has cursed Johnny Depp's name for taking a part from him. Carrey would have been a nice fit for Wonka, and the success of this film would have helped his career considerably. It's surprising that Carrey and Burton have yet to work together, as they seem to share a similar dark, offbeat sensibility.

24. The Da Vinci Code (2006)
The role: Silas
Who got it: Paul Bettany
When casting The Da Vinci Code, Jim Carrey was considered to play Silas, the murderous albino. This was a great opportunity for Carrey to portray a different kind of character in a different kind of film, and The Da Vinci Code became an overwhelming financial success. Carrey missed a big chance to once again show off his dramatic abilities and to add another huge hit to his resume.

25. Get Smart (2008)
The role: Maxwell Smart
Who got it: Steve Carell
Jim Carrey was attached to this adaptation of the classic TV series when the film was first proposed in the late '90s. Development stalled and Carrey left. Will Ferrell was briefly attached before Steve Carell was cast.
Get Smart became a huge hit, and the success would have helped Carrey continue to score big roles, but the part feels much better-suited for Steve Carell. Carell's a lower-key comic actor than Carrey, and in Get Smart, he's able to keep the whole movie grounded, which is a necessity considering the big budget spy set pieces it contains. Carell's calm and mundane exterior serves as a nice counterpoint to the dangerous situations in which his character is placed. Plus, Carell does bear a striking resemblance to Don Adams, the star of the original Get Smart series.

Carell needed a hit after his 2007, in which the newly-minted movie star appeared in two commercial non-hits: Dan in Real Life and Evan Almighty (a franchise he inherited from Carrey). Get Smart's success justified Steve Carell's newfound status as a leading man and helped him to land bigger parts. Had Carrey taken this role instead of him, Carell might not have been a top choice for Date Night, Dinner for Schmucks, or some of the actor's other recent projects. Get Smart is still Steve Carell’s highest-earning live action big screen hit, and without its success, his movie career perhaps wouldn’t be going well enough to lure him away from The Office this year.

26. The Promotion (2008)
The role: Richard Wehlner
Who got it: John C. Reilly
Seann William Scott mentioned in an interview that Jim Carrey was at one point considering starring in this little-seen film. Even more surprising is Scott’s claim that Carrey wanted to cast Tom Cruise in the role he ended up playing. Jim Carrey starring would have raised the level of awareness of this movie and allowed the studio to place it in more theaters. Carrey ended up making Yes Man that same year, which was a much bigger hit; however, Carrey's presence is what made Yes Man a big movie. If he had chosen this project instead, maybe it would have turned this film into a success on the same level.

27. The Beaver (2011)
The role: Walter Black
Who got it: Mel Gibson
Jim Carrey was attached to this comedy-drama, about a man who has a mental breakdown but finds redemption by talking with a beaver hand puppet that speaks with a British accent. It sounds absurd, but the script was beloved by Hollywood executives, topping the 2008 Blacklist of best-liked scripts. Steve Carell was originally signed on for the part with Jay Roach directing, but both parties dropped out. Jim Carrey signed on shortly thereafter, only to drop out as well. The recent controversy surrounding Mel Gibson has led to several delays in the release of this film. The Beaver was originally scheduled for release late 2010, but it's been delayed multiple times.

Mel Gibson's PR and personal troubles cast a shadow over this project, but it could have been a great part for Jim Carrey or Steve Carell and a potential awards contender. The film was originally scheduled for release during Oscar season last year before Gibson's troubles occurred, but it's likely that another actor could have generated some awards buzz for his performance. The script was written by Kyle Killen, who created the short-lived Fox series Lone Star, which was the most critically acclaimed new show of last TV season. Killen is still a new writer, but his work has been generating a lot of heat. This feels like a missed opportunity for Carrey, and his presence could have guaranteed the film’s release wouldn’t be delayed like it has been with Gibson as the star.

28. Superman Lives (never filmed)
The role: Brainiac
When Tim Burton was planning on directing a Superman reboot in the late '90s, with Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel, Jim Carrey was mentioned to play the villain Brainiac. Development stalled and the project collapsed. The Superman series wasn't resurrected until Superman Returns in 2006, and that film took the series in a completely different direction. Jim Carrey had already played a superhero villain before in Batman Forever. While Burton's vision of Superman would likely have been better-received than that particular Batman, Carrey had played a similar role before so this doesn't seem like a huge missed opportunity.

29. The Jetsons (in development)
The role: George Jetson
Director Barry Sonnenfeld wanted Jim Carrey and Nicole Kidman to play George and Jane Jetson in a live-action adaptation of the cartoon series that he was planning in 1996. Sonnenfeld left the project to make Men in Black. Robert Rodriguez recently signed on to direct the film, but he also dropped out. Peter Berg was last reported to be the director the studio was after. Perhaps if Berg takes the reins, he will consider casting Carrey. He's certainly a capable and satisfying choice to play George.

30. The Six Million Dollar Man (in development)
The role: Steve Austin
Director Todd Phillips was adapting the classic '70s action series into a flat-out comedy in 2003 and Jim Carrey was attached to star. The project never came to fruition, and Carrey and Phillips both left to pursue other opportunities. I'm not sure how well a comedy version of the Six Million Dollar Man would play. It seems like fans of the original series wouldn't want to see because it altered so drastically, so the audience would mostly be made up of Jim Carrey fans who would follow him anywhere. It probably would have been better to just write something original for Jim Carrey to star in with a similar concept, as the name recognition of the franchise wouldn't carry over to a comedy. Also, six million dollars isn't as much today as it was when the original premiered in 1974.

31. The Incredible Mr. Limpet (in development)
The role: Henry Limpet
A remake of the 1960s Don Knotts family film, about a man who turns into a talking fish to help the U.S. Navy fight Nazi submarines, has been in development since the late '90s. Originally, Jim Carrey was attached to play Mr. Limpet, but he dropped out. It was announced just last year that Zach Galifianakis was in talks to play the lead role, and Richard Linklater is considering directing. This would have been a quick easy hit for Jim Carrey, as most of the movie would be carried by the special effects and animation. It's not clear why Carrey left the project, but this latest version with Zach Galifianakis sounds promising, as he is a surprising choice for the character. While Carrey has played the lead in family films before, Zach Galifianakis has mainly starred in R-rated fare, so this will be a chance for him to do something different.

32. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (in development)
The role: Walter Mitty
A big screen adaptation of the James Thurber short story about daydreaming Walter Mitty has been in development for years. Jim Carrey was originally attached and directors Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Mark Waters have all been involved at different points. Owen Wilson was developing the role until Mike Myers signed on, but neither of these actors is currently involved. Sacha Baron Cohen was in talks to play Mitty last year, and that’s the latest news on this project. This would be a great movie for any of these guys. We’ll see if Sacha Baron Cohen holds onto the role or if actors keep swapping in and out as development continues into the next milennium.

33. Used Guys (in development)
Used Guys is another long-gestating Hollywood project that has seen numerous stars pop in and drop out over the last several years. The film, a sci-fi comedy about a distant future in which women rule the Earth and trade men like used cars, has always faced budgetary problems. Used Guys was close to being made in 2005, with Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller playing the leads and Jay Roach directing, but the budgetary demands of Carrey and Stiller's high salaries, as well as the costs of creating the futuristic sets and vehicles, caused the project to fall apart rather quickly.

In 2009, efforts were made to reboot the project with Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon as the leads, and Little Miss Sunshine duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris directing. Danny McBride was announced to fill Carrey’s vacated role last year, with 20th Century Fox looking to do a lower-budget version of the film. Dayton and Faris remain onboard, but it’s not clear whether Stiller or Witherspoon are still involved. McBride is nowhere near as big a star as Carrey and Stiller, so it would be cheaper to produce Used Guys with him as the lead. Time will tell if this project ever goes into production, or if it continues to stall for another several years.

34. Burt Wonderstone (in development)
The role: Burt Wonderstone
Steve Carell just recently signed on to star in this film, about a disgraced Las Vegas magician who must stage a comeback to compete against a younger illusionist. Before that, Jim Carrey and Sacha Baron Cohen were circling the project. Carrey was reportedly offered a role, but he must have turned it down, as he’s not currently associated with the project. Steve Carell’s instincts toward picking his projects have been pretty solid for the most part, so it’s surprising that Carrey turned down what Carell and his team feel is a good part.

35. The Three Stooges (in development)
The role: Curly
The Farrelly Brothers have been putting together their Three Stooges movie for 10 years, and a lot of big names have been associated with the project, including Jim Carrey, Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, and Paul Giamatti. Carrey was tapped to play Curly, and he was gaining weight to accurately play the part without a fat suit. Carrey had this to say to MTV news:

“I don’t really want to do anything halfway, and I don’t feel like a fat suit does it. I started experimenting with it a little bit, and I gained 35, 40 pounds. I wanted to gain another 30, 40. When you’re De Niro in your 20s or early 30s, you can kind of come back from that. It’s a tough thing to come back from when you’re upwards of 30.”

The entire cast for the movie is now up in the air, as Carrey and the others have moved on. In recent years, the Farrelly Brothers' movies haven't been well-received, but some of their best work has been with Carrey. The Farrelly Brothers will be announcing the cast soon, and we'll eventually see if this was a project worth committing to for Jim Carrey.

Various sequels
The only sequel to one of his own movies that Jim Carrey has ever appeared in was Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and that was early in his big screen career. Over the past 20 years, Carrey has starred in some major movies, and there's no doubt the studios have wanted sequels to many of them. Just because Carrey has turned down sequels, it hasn't stopped Hollywood from producing them anyway. The first was Dumb and Dumberer in 2003, a prequel to Dumb and Dumber, with teenage actors taking on Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey's roles. The following year, Jamie Kennedy starred in Son of the Mask, and Steve Carell starred in the Bruce Almighty sequel Evan Almighty in 2007.

But easily the most glaring bastardization of a Jim Carrey film was the 2009 direct-to-video Ace Ventura Jr., which starred a child as Carrey's character’s son. It looks and sounds awful, but I'd love to see that kid do a whole series of direct-to-video sequels to his favorite comedies. Austin Powers Jr. and Anchorman Jr. would be undoubtedly awful, but the idea of hundreds of people toiling on the crew of a whole series of these movies revolving around an overweight kid doing a sloppy impression of a beloved character is too good to pass up.

Jim Carrey's refusal to repeat himself is admirable. Movie sequels can be lucrative and they often make more money than the originals, so it takes some integrity to turn down the $20 million paychecks that come with. Some other comedic actors who tend to stray away from sequels are Adam Sandler, Bill Murray, and Will Ferrell. Although Murray appeared in second installments of Garfield and Ghostbusters and Ferrell was recently prepping Anchorman 2, these actors have tried to avoid making the same movie over and over, for the most part. Sequels are all too often just a cash crab and a shameless rehashing of their predecessors, and it’s comforting that Carrey, Ferrell, Murray, and Sandler seem to realize that.

Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter or else he’ll start following you in real life.

  • Megh Wright

    AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. (Fun fun fun)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/laura-turner-garrison/5500143 laura turner garrison

    Well this is super!

  • JoshUng

    Wow, I almost started to feel bad for Carrey for all these lost roles, until I remembered he's super rich.

    I'm a bit surprised that he was up for (what seemed to be) so many "big" roles so early. Also surprising the he seemed to keep losing to the same small handful of people (never thought I'd see an article where a person "loses" TWO jobs to Time Allen), but I'm not surprised at all that Tim Burton went with Johnny Depp for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If anything, I'm surprised whenever Burton doesn't cast Depp.

    Also, is Carrey really against sequels, or were the sequels proposed to him just that bad? I know sequels usually aren't that great, but the ones to his movies are especially bad, including the one he did actually do.

    • Bradford Evans

      Yeah, it is surprising that he was considered for so many big roles before In Living Color. But to be fair, Bachelor Party was a low budget surprise hit and Tom Hanks wasn't widely known when filming began. And Carrey is really against sequels, it's not just that he was offered bad ones. I meant to include a quote from this interview with Bruce/Evan Almighty director Tom Shadyac interview, in which he said Carrey was “not a big fan of doing the same character twice.” (http://www.webcitation.org/5rp1yxQLA)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Worcester/818292220 Ben Worcester

    Really impressive list here.

  • http://favstar.fm/users/wdeg Will DeG

    Awesome article as always.

  • linernotesdanny

    I actually feel like this is a feature that would work better as an article—so many items here say "once again" and "yet another" that I found myself wishing those films had been clumped together, and this piece structured more like an argument than a list. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. Signed, Persnickety Wanker

  • http://www.twitter.com/becca_oneal Rebecca O'Neal

    These "lost roles" posts are really great. Jim Carrey could have been Johnny Depp basically! Whooda thunkit?

  • grovberg

    Great article, but I think you woefully underestimate just how popular and profitable the Scooby Doo live action movies were. And as family movies, they're actually halfway decent. They definitely don't belong in the same category as Yogi Bear.

    • Bradford Evans

      Thanks! I was just saying the Scooby-Doo movies were poorly-received by critics. I know they turned a huge profit, but that Yogi Bear movie did too. You are right though, the Scooby-Doo movies definitely felt like they were better-liked by the general public than Yogi Bear.

  • Ray Banes

    Need to update this as Jim Carrey Is co-starring with Steve Carrell in Burt Wonderstone.