Photo: Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images)

Every article written about Jim Carrey in the past few years can be boiled down to one simple question: What’s going on with Jim Carrey? Fans and casual observers alike seem perplexed by the Dumb And Dumber star’s recent transformation from Hollywood top-earner to reclusive political cartoonist and painter. Most interviews with Carrey result in more questions than answers, with the actor espousing his own brand of New Age mysticism and occasionally speaking in the third person. But a recent, thorough profile from The Hollywood Reporter may be as close as we’re going to get to understanding Jim Carrey’s journey away from the limelight and his recent, reluctant return to it.

For the most part, Carrey’s life follows a similar trajectory to other entertainers in his field. There’s the childhood marred by emotionally distant parents who first inspired him to seek attention through performance, the early professional period when he oscillated between crushing and bombing at stand-up clubs across the country, and the first big break, when the critically maligned Ace Ventura raked in over $100 million in its opening weekend, bringing him fame, fortune, and more attention than he knew what to do with.

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But it’s Carrey’s self-awareness during this last period that ultimately led him down a different path. At the height of his success, the public’s perception of who he was—not only as a performer but as a man–weighed on him heavily. Every time he walked out the door, he was confined to the box that his adoring fans believed he belonged in. He was the high-energy, rubber-faced funny man and couldn’t be otherwise.

“They’ve done experiments where they’ve documented how when you look at a project it changes the result,” Carrey tells THR when discussing the difference between his private life and public life. “So, how can people, knowing who I am and looking at me and giving me their attention, not affect the result? Not affect what’s going to happen in that store or that restaurant? It changes everything. I change the dynamic of a room when I walk into it.”

In an endless fight against this pigeonholing, Carrey insisted on pursuing more serious roles like those in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Man On The Moon, and, more recently, The Bad Batch. His upcoming Showtime series Kidding finds him not only returning to work with Eternal Sunshine director Michel Gondry, but playing a role that he was seemingly born to play.

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“It’s a story about a character who has a larger-than-life public persona that he doesn’t feel connected to,” says Carrey’s producing partner Michael Aguilar. “Someone who wants to go off-brand but people keep telling him, ‘No, you absolutely can’t.’ And, I mean, that’s Jim.”

Still, there are people that wonder what happened to the goofball they remember from their childhood. “I hear the voices,” Carrey tells THR. “I hear people say, ‘Why doesn’t he just be funny?’ That stuff has just never mattered to me. To me, it’s like, this is the experiment tonight. If you enjoy it, great, if you don’t, that’s cool, too. There’ll be another one tomorrow.”

You can read the full profile here, which includes a closer look at Carrey’s politics and personal art collection.

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