Jim Carrey Agreed to $0 Salary for 'Yes Man', Ended Up Earning Millions Anyway

Jim Carrey Agreed to $0 Salary for 'Yes Man', Ended Up Earning Millions Anyway
Image credit: Warner Bros.

The time when Jim Carrey eventually said no. This did not mean that he had lost the opportunity to receive benefits, though.


  • Jim Carrey is now one of the richest comedians and actors in Hollywood.
  • But despite his fame in the '00s, his road to riches was a long one.
  • However, a risky decision that cost him a base salary for his role led to one of the most expensive bankrolls in Hollywood.

It is not uncommon for famous actors to decide to take a pay cut or work for free for their own passion projects. For example, Christopher Lee starred in the cult folk horror film The Wicker Man for free (as did the rest of the cast) and even invested his own money in promoting it. Or there's the case of Michael Sheen, who decided in 2021 to forgo any income from his performances and donate it to charity.

One of the most notable cases, however, is that of Jim Carrey. He once decided to take an incredible risk by refusing to take any salary in a film with a budget of $70 million. And it turned out to be an example of Carrey's excellent financial acumen, as the actor received one of the highest salaries for Hollywood roles, an incredible $30 million.

A Rough Start in Jim Carrey's Career…

'I would visualize having directors interested in me and people that I respected saying, "You know, I like your work" or whatever that is. I would visualize things coming to me that I wanted or whatever. I had nothing at the time [in 1987], so it was like, it just made me feel better. At that time, all it really was for me was kind of making me feel better. I would drive home and think, "Oh, I do have these things, and they're out there. I just don't have a hold of them yet, but they're out there."'

But even then, the actor was very determined against all odds and therefore took a considerable risk, deciding to motivate himself to become famous in three to five years. And although the risk was very high indeed, threatening Jim Carrey with poverty and oblivion (he wrote himself a check for $10 million, not having such an income at the time!), his decision finally paid off.

'I wrote myself a cheque for $10 million for "acting services rendered" and I gave myself five years… or three years, maybe. And I dated it for Thanksgiving, 1995, and I put it in my wallet and I kept it there, and it deteriorated and deteriorated and stuff. But then just before Thanksgiving 1995, I found out that I was gonna make ten million dollars on Dumb and Dumber.'

That same year, in addition to Dumb and Dumber, the comedies Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask, which not only cemented Carrey's status as one of the greatest comedians of the '90s, but the films themselves as cult classics. However, 14 years later, the actor pulled off an even bigger gamble that has contributed greatly to Jim Carrey becoming one of the highest paid comedians and actors in Hollywood ever.

…Followed by a Decision That Earned Him $30 million.

Today, Jim Carrey's net worth is a staggering $180 million. Of course, this does not compare to Tom Cruise's incredible $600 million fortune, but it still makes the iconic comedian one of the richest actors in Hollywood. However, he has one notable role that would make even the actors who are getting huge fees and residuals for Marvel projects envious.

And no, we are not talking about The Truman Show (for which Carrey received an impressive $12 million, but that was not the limit for him) or The Cable Guy, for which he received $20 million. It's not about Carrey's most acclaimed comedy, 2008's Yes Man. After all, it brought Jim Carrey the highest earnings of his career and one of the highest sums in the history of the film industry in general, and in a very unconventional way, because once again he decided to take a big risk.

According to reports, he decided to exchange his well-deserved paycheck for the purchase of the film itself. As a result, he was promised 36.2% of all backend compensation. And considering that Yes Man grossed $223.2 million worldwide against a budget of $70 million, Jim Carrey earned an incredible $30 million.

Source: The Oprah Winfrey Show.