In a turn of events that would make for a sentimental high-concept comedy perhaps starring Jim Carrey, blockbuster comedy director Tom Shadyac—who helmed Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, Bruce Almighty, and its disastrous sequel Evan Almighty (thereby securing his place on our list of “10 Directors You Didn’t Know You Hated”)—has apparently abandoned his license to print money making sentimental high-concept comedies, moved into a trailer park, and started giving away all of his funny-face-begotten fortunes, after enduring a “spiritual awakening” caused by a bump on the head.
As soon as Evan Almighty proved to be the costliest comedy ever in 2007, Shadyac sold his 17,000-square-foot mansion and relocated to a trailer in Malibu, then began giving most of his money to charity—although as he says in this fascinating L.A. Times profile, he still found himself searching for meaning. Soon after, a debilitating bike accident left him with post-concussion syndrome; he recovered from his depression by dedicating himself to making the upcoming documentary I Am—which explores “why today’s culture is so obsessed with competition and separation instead of community and cooperation”—and abandoning his Hollywood career almost entirely, including all but passing on a proposed remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet, which would otherwise seem to be right up his alley.
But as Shadyac now says, “What good is our art if it doesn’t change us, if our lives don’t reflect the values that we put into our films?” It’s the rare filmmaker who realizes that he’s only getting richer by making things worse, which makes Shadyac’s story pretty inspiring indeed. Here’s hoping no one makes a shitty movie out of it.