Content warning: This article discusses drug use and suicide.
In recent years, Jim Carrey has somewhat departed from the confines of regular movie star reality. In 2017 he attended a Harper's Bazaar party during New York Fashion Week, telling a reporter he was there because he "wanted to come to the most meaningless thing I could come to".
"But Jim, you got really dressed up for the party," the interviewer said, bubbly and confused, after he mocked the premise of the party (to celebrate "icons").
"There is no me. There's clusters of tetrahedrons moving around.
"I believe we're a field of energy dancing for itself. And I don't care," he continued. "There is no me."
In the 90s, the flexible-faced Jim Carrey was one of the most in-demand actors in the world. By the end of the decade, he had successfully transitioned from wacky comedy actor into serious leading man. He starred in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon in 1998 and 1999 respectively. Carrey took out the Golden Globe for Best Actor in consecutive years.
Carrey paired skyrocketing fame with erratic behaviour
While receiving his gong for The Truman Show, Carrey gave a lengthy and emotional speech, poking fun at his previous comedic movie career and thanking various people for taking a chance on him. He thanked director Peter Weir for seeing more in him than "just funny faces".
The following year Carrey was less humble, calling himself "the Tom Hanks of the Golden Globes", joking the film for which he received the award was in a confused category. "I was a little shocked that it was in the comedy or musical category, actually. But you know, I'll go with it," he said before breaking into song.
Carrey's comedy had always been bold and unusual, a unique style Judd Apatow compared to David Bowie playing around regular rock bands.
Shooting The Man on the Moon had been a difficult and all-consuming process for Carrey, one where he went into character for the entirety of the shoot. Inhabiting the world and personality of either Andy Kaufman, or Kaufman's sexist and alcoholic alter ego Tony Clifton, Carrey refused to let any cast or crew encounter him without his elaborate prosthetics. When he was not in full makeup, he wore a paper bag on his head.
The documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, released in 2017 via Netflix, follows the making of the film, chronicling Carrey as he cavorts around the set in various states, of recklessness and aggression.
Carrey later reflected on his behaviour, saying it wasn't his choice, and describing it as a type of possession by the deceased comedian.
He harasses numerous other actors and crew members, provoking a wrestler into fighting with him. He crashes a convertible into a wall on the lot. Crew are often unsure about whether Carrey is drunk or pretending to drink, injured or pretending to be injured. He is often so inebriated he has to be carried by his underarms into his makeup chair or off set. He has multiple heated arguments with director Milos Forman, who pleads with the actor to let them make the movie.
At the conclusion of the film, Carrey said he had "no idea who he was anymore."
Carey had a difficult upbringing and used comedy to cope
In an interview with 60 Minutes in 2004 Carey revealed that his talents were born of sheer "desperation." He attributes his wild contortionist slapstick, where his body and face and limbs are windmills and flares, to dull, dark days with his bedridden and unwell mother. He later said she was addicted to painkillers.
"I had a sick mum, man. I wanted to make her feel better. Basically, I think she laid in bed and took a lot of pain pills. And I wanted to make her feel better.
"And I used to go in there and do impressions of praying mantises, and weird things, and whatever. I'd bounce off the walls and throw myself down the stairs to make her feel better.
"Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything, or creating anything. Period. If you ain't desperate at some point, you ain't interesting."
Carrey now lives an isolated life surrounded by his paintings
Carrey chased success in the nineties, and in the early 2000s commanded around US$20 million a movie. He starred in a string of dramas and romantic comedies, including Me Myself and Irene alongside his then girlfriend Renée Zellweger, Bruce Almighty, Yes Man and the comparably low budget cult film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
But Carrey started to shun the spotlight and starring roles, and apart from reprising his role in Dumb and Dumber in 2014, he has not starred in a major film since 2011.
Carrey recently said he had decided he "didn't want to be in the business anymore."
"I didn't like what was happening, the corporations taking over and all that."
Carrey's public appearances have been rare, where the actor soliloquises about the meaninglessness of life and the illusory nature of personality, or muses on the fragile beauty of existence. When pressed, he is often stark and bleak.
His interviewers are often caught off guard or bemused by Carrey's prophetic language. In his 2015 appearance on Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" Carrey refuses to drink coffee because he is 21 days into a fast, only drinking tea, water and five drops of a herbal sweetener he brought along to the shoot.
A recent Hollywood Reporter profile labelled Carrey a painter who had essentially "renounced his celebrity," describing his home in Brentwood as a shrine to his hundreds of paintings and drawings.
He remained steadfast in his etherised view of his former life, telling the reporter that recent acting ventures didn't equate to a comeback narrative.
"I don't feel I'm little Jim trying to hang on to a place in the stratosphere anymore — I don't feel like I'm trying to hold on to anything."
Ex-girlfriend's family have blamed Carrey for her death
In 2015 Carrey's girlfriend Cathriona White died of a drug overdose. White was 27 years old and died alone in her Los Angeles home. Carrey served as a pallbearer at her funeral.
The couple had an on-and-off relationship since 2012, according to TMZ, and had rekindled in May, four months before she died. They split once again, a week before her death.
"She was a truly kind and delicate Irish flower, too sensitive for this soil, to whom loving and being loved was all that sparkled," Carrey stated following her death. He called White "my sweet Cathriona".
In 2016, White's husband Mark Burton filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Carrey, claiming he provided White with prescription medication which he obtained using his "immense wealth and celebrity". The suit also claimed Carrey knowingly infected White with three sexually transmitted infections, including two strains of the incurable herpes virus.
White was married to Mark Burton in 2013, an arrangement Carrey labelled a "sham", in a statement regarding the lawsuit:
"What a terrible shame. It would be easy for me to get in a back room with this man's lawyer and make this go away, but there are some moments in life when you have to stand up and defend your honour against the evil in this world."
White's mother, Brigid Sweetman, filed her own wrongful death suit against Carrey the following month, making similar allegations around Carrey, who Sweetman's lawyer alleged "purposefully hid" test results, "then proceeded to have unprotected sex with Ms White."
During the case, multiple text message screenshots and letters were leaked to the press of personal conversations between Carrey and his distressed girlfriend, as they discussed her paranoia about STDs and his distress at the situation.
Carey filed a countersuit, alleging the family were trying to extort him as a famous actor. He also claimed his deceased girlfriend had attempted to extort him while she was still alive.
The case was dismissed at the start of this year, with lawyers from both sides confirming there would be no further action taken from either party.
Carrey's lawyer had no comment at the time except to say that the actor was looking forward to moving on with his life.
Hot water over anti vaxxing views
In 2009 Carrey penned an article where he linked rising numbers of autism in children to vaccines for rubella, mumps and measles.
He argued that ruling against causation was a "huge leap in logic", going on to argue that, "anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who've seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician's office must be seriously considered".
In 2015 California passed tough laws requiring all schoolchildren to be vaccinated, disallowing parents to opt out for religious or personal beliefs. Carrey called the enacting Governor a "corporate fascist," following the move.
"California Gov. says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminium [sic] in manditory [sic] vaccines," Carrey tweeted.
He went on to clarify, "I repeat! I AM PRO-VACCINE/ANTI-NEUROTOXIN, as is Robert Kennedy Jr."
"All we are saying is, 'Take the neurotoxins out of the vaccines.' Make them toxin free. History will show that was a reasonable request."
Carrey was savaged by various outlets for his views, including by Time editor-at-large Jeffrey Kluger, who picked apart various minutiae of Carrey's argument, taking issue with his role as expert over the medical community at large, and including eviscerating arguments against the use of heavy metals in vaccines.
"Never mind that Carrey does not understand the difference between ethylmercury and methylmercury or the fact that there is virtually no mercury of any kind left in vaccines," Kluger wrote. "Never mind that he doesn't seem to know that to the extent that aluminium is in vaccines at all, it is there only as an adjuvant — or immune system stimulant — and is well-handled by the body, especially in the trace amounts that it's found in vaccines."
Coping with meditation and painting
In a recent interview to promote his new series Kidding, Carrey spoke candidly about his own struggles with depression throughout his life. While saying he still suffers from periods of sadness, he said these days it comes and goes in a more natural way.
He has reflected deeply on how his own fame upset and isolated his daughter, who wrote in her diary in first grade that the big kids gravitated towards her father when he would pick her up from school.
"I change the dynamic of a room when I walk into it," he told a reporter, explaining his struggles with his fame affecting the lives of those he's loved, and his eventual gravitation towards reclusiveness.
His Twitter account has recently become deeply political, with Carrey regularly tweeting his hypercolour and caricatured paintings and drawings with politically charged messages to his 18 million followers.
He says the most difficult periods in his life was when he was, "trying to be The Wizard of Oz instead of the sweaty guy behind the curtain. But now I know that Oz is a character.
"Everybody deals with that, they walk around going, 'Why am I depressed?'
"Well it's because you're trying to be something for the world.
"As soon as you let that go, better things happen, because they're just happening."
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email email@example.com or online chat.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
• SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.