Jim Carrey's tragic real-life story

Jim Carrey's wild personality, kooky facial expressions, and outlandish sense of humor have been making the world chuckle since the '80s. After snagging a gig on The Tonight Show at the age of 21, he parlayed his newfound success into a recurring spot on the '90s sketch comedy show In Living Color. He tickled our funny bones as he depicted memorable characters, such as Fire Marshall Bill and the buff bodybuilder Vila de Milo, and it was clear as day that Carrey had no limit to how far he would go to bring laughter into his fans' lives.

Box office success soon followed, with movies such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber, but despite his accomplishments, he has struggled with inner turmoil that manifested itself during his childhood and wreaked havoc in his life well into his adult years. His goofy personality and his penchant for comedy can be described as protective shields that hide his angst. 

From depression to homelessness, the trials and tribulations he has experienced are no laughing matter. This is the tragic real-life story of Jim Carrey

His intense fear of the Grim Reaper

During a lull in his filming schedule, he penned his children's book, How Roland Rolls, and the story was far from the fairytale template most children's books follow. 

"One of the things I've always wanted to talk about or deal with is the fact that kids have profound feelings and profound questions that people don't give them credit for. They think about life and death and 'What happens when something happens to Mom? What happens when something happens to me?'" he told The Hollywood Reporter. The plot of his book was rooted in the actor's own fears growing up with two parents who were "heavy smokers."

"I remember locking myself in the bathroom and crying because I thought they were going to die. They banged on the door, telling me to come out. I don't know if I got over that fear at that time; it was just kind of with me," he said. 

His fears heightened as his mom freely talked about her own mortality. "I remember being seven years old and my mother at the dinner table saying things like, 'My brain is deteriorating at an incredible rate!' or 'My angina's acting up; I could go at any time!'" he recalled. "Things like that would just shake me to the core."

He later came to grips with his mom's outspoken banter, realizing it was her way of "getting attention and getting love," — but it was at the cost of scaring the bejesus out of him.

He dropped out of school

At the age of 10, Carrey wrote a heartfelt letter to The Carol Burnett Show in hopes that they would give him the opportunity to display his comedic chops and show off his "150 voices" on the program. He waited for a reply and was finally greeted with a rejection letter from the TV personality, who told him the program was "just grown-ups" and encouraged Carrey to "stay in school, study hard."

Sadly, Carrey wasn't able to heed her advice after his father lost his job as an accountant. In order to help his family make ends meet, the Bruce Almighty star dropped out of school on his 16th birthday, according to CBS News. "We were experiencing poverty at that point. We all got a job, where the whole family had to work as security guards and janitors."

There was a bright side to his early exit from school. He was determined not to be a looo-hoo-zuh-her, so he spent his time away from the classroom working on his comedy act "full-time." And, boy, did it pay off.

He became a homeless teen

His family's financial hardships meant tough times were abundant. However, Carrey managed to turn those difficult times into a source of laughter. 

"A lot of people don't know this but when I was about 14 or 15, my father lost his job and I actually became homeless for quite some time, but of course, I grew up in Canada and I thought we'd gone camping," he says in one of his earlier comedy skits.

He may be able to laugh about it now, but that rough period of his life was far from humorous at the time. Carrey revealed in an interview with Inside the Actors Studio (via People), that he and his family even had to live "in a van for a while."

Thankfully, those days are now over. Carrey has used his fortunes to give his lifestyle a complete 180, like the time he purchased a beachside Malibu home that he later sold for a whopping $13.4 million. Cha-ching!

His mirror was his only friend

As if his family's financial struggles weren't bad enough, Jim Carrey also dealt with bouts of loneliness as a child, which he described in a December 1984 issue of Interview magazine.

When asked if his childhood was unusual in any sort of way, he made the startling admission: "Well, I spent most of my time in my room staring at a mirror. I never knew I was supposed to socialize," he said. He went on to say that he would spend "hours" making faces at himself in front of the mirror, but he described the memory in a nostalgic way by claiming he was just "having a good time." 

While chatting with James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio (via the Daily Mail), the Liar Liar actor shared more secrets about his life of solitude, but he hinted that his aversion to being a social butterfly may have been self-imposed. After dropping out of school, he said he went from being a "straight-A student to not wanting to know anybody's name, and not wanting to make a friend."

He suffered from depression

In an interview with CNN's Larry King, Jim Carrey described himself as a "weird, serious person," and he dove deeper into that topic when he chatted with iNews. His "serious" personality isn't one the public gets to see often, and it could be attributed to the actor's struggle with depression. He revealed that it took him some time, but he was able to get to a point where he was "sometimes happy."

After gradually ditching Prozac, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, and limiting his coffee intake, Carrey found that his mental wellness improved. To keep depression at bay, he looked toward the spiritual side of his life. "Jesus. I'm a Buddhist, I'm a Muslim, I'm a Christian. I'm whatever you want me to be," he told 60 Minutes. "It all comes down to the same thing … You are either in a loving place, or you are in an unloving place. If you are with me right now, you cannot be unhappy. It's not possible, just try."

Art cured his broken heart

We've seen him hit up the red carpet with a bevy of beautiful women, but one of his most well-known relationships was with fellow actress and comedienne Jenny McCarthy. After five years together, the couple announced its breakup

"Those moments where you saw us together, was it love? You're damned right it was," McCarthy told Oprah Winfrey in September 2010. "The problem is there wasn't a photographer when the times were rough." 

After going their separate ways, Carrey turned to art as a form of therapy. In the documentary, Jim Carrey: I Needed Color, he said painting and creating clay sculptures helped him "heal a broken heart." Although he didn't mention McCarthy by name, the timeline of their breakup coincided with his foray into the world of art. "When I really started painting a lot, I had become so obsessed that there was nowhere to move in my home. Paintings were everywhere, they were becoming part of the furniture. I was eating on them," he said. 

He's 'a hard guy to date'

Jim Carrey has had a long list of leading women in and out of his life. He married actress Melissa Womer in 1987, and the former couple had a daughter, Jane, before they went their separate ways. He later went on to marry his Dumb and Dumber co-star, Lauren Holly, in 1996, but their marriage barely lasted eight months before Holly filed for divorce in July 1997. A string of rocky relationships followed, including a broken engagement to his Me, Myself & Irene co-star Renée Zellweger (pictured).

After news broke that his aforementioned romance with McCarthy was on the skids, those close to the actor spoke out about just how jacked up their relationship may have become. Although Carrey always had a smile on his face while hanging out with their mutual friends, the usually bubbly McCarthy "rarely smiled and looked serious," a source alleged to People. "There wasn't that spark between them. They didn't seem to be in sync." 

A friend close to the comedian labeled Carrey "a hard guy to date." The insider claimed, "Jim can run hot and he can run cold. He is someone who desperately needs to be with someone, then just as desperately needs to be alone. But at the same time, he can be a very loving, very compassionate guy."

His ex-girlfriend's tragic death led to a legal battle

Another one of his relationships that made headlines began in 2012 when he met makeup artist Cathriona White on a film set, according to USA Today. White tragically took her own life in September 2015 by overdosing on prescription drugs, and Carrey was a pallbearer at her funeral. The following year, White's estranged husband, Mark Burton, and her mother, Brigid Sweetman, sued the actor for wrongful death, claiming Carrey had infected White with "three STDs without warning her" and had supplied her with the painkillers that she used to commit suicide. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Carrey fought back with a countersuit claiming White attempted to extort him in 2013 by threatening to reveal her STD allegation. He also claimed that her mother and estranged husband's wrongful death lawsuit was just another way for her family to attempt to exploit him. 

The court battle and allegations got very nasty, but the whole thing was dismissed in January 2018, according to a statement Carrey's rep gave to The Hollywood Reporter. No further details were given by either of the parties following the suit's dismissal, although Carrey's lawyer told the website the actor was looking forward to moving on with his life.