1994 was the year that changed Jim Carrey’s life. After years of grinding away on the comedy club circuit and doing sketch shows, he finally saw his break with the release of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Later that same year, the classic comedy Dumb and Dumber came out. However, in between these two films, Carrey starred in a surprise hit that had everybody talking. That film, still beloved today by audiences of all ages, is The Mask.
The story follows a timid bank clerk called Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) who stumbles across a mask possessed by the spirit of the Norse god Loki. Once he puts on the mask, his entire life changes and he suddenly becomes a playboy with supernatural powers. His new confidence and charm allows him to grab the attention of Tina (Cameron Diaz), a nightclub singer, but he also falls into some troubles that get him noticed by a vengeful crime boss, who makes it his mission to destroy Ipkiss’ alter-ego.
The film made stars out of both Carrey and Diaz and allowed audiences to see witness Carrey's unforgettable talent for physical comedy. Today, people still make references to the many quotable moments in The Mask and the infamous yellow zoot suit Carrey wears is a Halloween costume staple.
If you know and love this classic '90s comedy, than you’ll certainly want to learn about the ins and outs of how this incredible movie was made. You better believe they’re s-s-s-s-s-s-mokin'!
With that in mind, here are 20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of The Mask.
20 The Mask is Based on a Comic Book
While The Mask will always be remembered as one of Jim Carrey’s goofiest, zaniest movies, the film is actually based on some pretty gory comics. The inspiration for the film comes from the Dark Horse comic series of the same name, written by John Arcudi and drawn by Doug Mahnke, which sees the main character, still Stanley Ipkiss, become a violent maniac.
The Dark Horse comic sthe film is based on are pretty disturbing, and the content makes these stories stand out as some of the most violent of the 1980s.
It’s doubtful that Arcudi and Mahnke would have imagined that their super dark comic series would become one of the funniest, most kid-friendly blockbusters of the '90s, but as we all know now, that’s exactly what happened.
19 The Film Was Originally Meant To Be A Horror
Most of us remember watching The Mask at some point in our lives. Whether you were the parent or the kid being taken to see it, the movie was, and still is, considered a family-favorite. Well, if things had originally gone to plan, we could have seen a much darker, much less child-appropriate film coming to theaters in the 1990s.
As mentioned, The Mask is based on the very gory Dark Horse comics. According to The Hollywood News, the film’s director Chuck Russell, admitted that he was originally planning on making the film in a similar way to the film Nightmare On Elm Street: “We started to look at adapting The Mask as a new horror series.”
However, when Russell was inspired to hire Jim Carrey for the lead role, he decided to adapt the story into a comedy.
18 Jim Carrey Was A Risky Casting Choice
Before starring in The Mask, Jim Carrey made a huge name for himself that same year in 1994 with the release of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. While the goofy movie made film industry big shots realize that Carrey was a viable movie star, the critics slated him. Roger Ebert was his harshest viewer, saying he was a “hyper goon.”
According to The Hollywood News, when director Chuck Russell suggested bringing in Carrey to play the main part in The Mask, the production company, New Line Cinema, thought he was “off [his] rocker.”
Well, as we all know now, The Mask helped to catapult Jim Carrey to fame, and from this performance he was able to secure another one of his most famous roles, Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber.
17 Cameron Diaz had never acted before
Cameron Diaz is one of Hollywood’s most famous stars, but in 1994 she was still relatively unknown.
Before turning her sights to the world of acting, Cameron Diaz was working as a model.
However, it was Chuck Russell who offered the actress her first ever film role. In his interview with The Hollywood News, Russell revealed: “Cameron was brand new and had literally never acted before.”
Well, it turns out the rookie actress was a natural, and she skyrocketed to fame after the release of The Mask, soon becoming one of Hollywood’s top-billed stars. Diaz was sensational as the seductress Tina in the film, the infamous critic Roger Ebert even calling her “a true discovery in the film” in his 1994 review of the movie.
16 Jim Carrey’s paycheck was tiny
“Tiny” is a very relative term here, but the truth is Jim Carrey wasn’t paid nearly as much as you might expect for as hit film like The Mask.
According to Rolling Stone, Carrey made just $450,000 for his role in this now-cherished movie, which may seem like a lot of cash to most of us, but it’s definitely peanuts compared to the $7 million paycheck he picked up a few months later for his part in Dumb and Dumber.
Apparently, the reason why the makers of The Mask were able to secure Carrey for such a small amount was due to the fact that they signed him on for the lead role before the release of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
15 Cameron Diaz’s Singing Was Dubbed
For those of you who have watched the classic 1997 rom-com My Best Friend’s Wedding, you’ll undoubtedly remember the karaoke scene in which Cameron Diaz bravely stands up and belts out the song “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”. That performance was painfully croaky, to say the least.
However, this really was Diaz singing, as confirmed by Entertainment Weekly when the music supervisor for the film said: "Cameron had been practicing [her lip-synching] but P.J. decided it would be better to see if she could sing it live, then she’d be embarrassed, like her character.”
Because Diaz was not a talented vocalist, Tina’s song “Ain’t I Good to You” in The Mask was dubbed.
The true singer was Susan Boyd, as revealed by Consequence of Sound.
14 Jim Carrey's Face Saved The Movie’s Budget
One of the most amazing things about Jim Carrey is his sheer talent for contorting his face and body into unimaginable positions.
Watch any '90s Carrey movie, and you’ll be be both in awe and hysterics over the ludicrous ways he distorts his features.
This was definitely one of the reasons why Chuck Russell was so keen to cast Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss, as his already cartoonish ability to twist his face into odd shapes suited the role perfectly.
Russell has admitted that the film’s production team saved a huge amount of money on special effects thanks to Jim Carrey’s talent for cartoonish contortion.
Russell said to the Chicago Tribune: “The guys at ILM said they figured I saved about a million bucks once I got Jim, just on what he was able to do, versus what we intended to do originally."
13 Nicolas Cage almost played The Mask
It’s clear that the choice to sign Jim Carrey on as the lead role of The Mask was one of the best casting decisions ever made, and it’s certainly difficult to imagine anyone else coming even remotely close to being able to deliver a comparable performance.
However, before Carrey was officially offered the role, there were a few other famous faces who were considered for the part of Stanley Ipkiss. According to Digital Spy, Matthew Broderick and Nicolas Cage were both shortlisted for the lead part.
Although both Broderick and Cage are brilliant actors in their own right, it’s undeniable that they both would have paled in comparison to Carrey in this particular role.
As hilarious as it might be to imagine Cage as Cuban Pete, there’s definitely only one actor who could have pulled it off, and that’s Carrey.
12 The Famous Yellow Zoot Suit's Backstory
One of the first things people think about when The Mask is mentioned is the bright yellow zoot suit Jim Carrey’s character wears in the film.
The suit has become iconic, and is as much a symbol of the movie as the green mask itself.
While this was clearly a stroke of genius on the costume department’s part, the reality is, there is actually some background context to this choice of outfit.
According to Famous Actors, the yellow zoot suit is actually reminiscent of the outfit Jim Carrey wore for his first-ever stand-up gig at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club, which was a polyester yellow suit, lovingly handmade by his mother. Apparently this first show was a complete disaster, so it’s only fitting that Carrey wear a tribute to this memory in one of his biggest ever films.
11 The Ghostbusters crossover
The Mask takes inspiration from a lot of classic pop culture moments in history, and references quite a few movies and TV shows during its running time, especially cartoons. However, did you know that there’s a piece of Ghostbusters in the film?
The garage from which Stanley Ipkiss retrieves his loaned car is actually the famous firehouse that is extensively featured in Ghostbusters which came out in 1984, exactly ten years before The Mask. It’s always fun to see familiar locations pop up in different films, especially when they are used to different effect in each one.
Who would have guessed that Ghostbusters and The Mask would be connected?
10 Jim Carrey’s long hours in the make-up chair
Because Jim Carrey’s face is so bendy and so expressive, it can be hard to remember that he’s actually wearing a literal mask in the film. Although the green paint on his face might look just like a natural extensions of his features, it actually took a very lengthy process to get him to look the way he does in the movie.
Carrey's transformation into the mask reportedly took four hours in the makeup chair every day.
According to the book Jim Carrey by Mary Hughes: “Carrey remembers that the long and involved daily makeup sessions just about drove him insane - which may or may not have prompted his Mask co-star, Cameron Diaz, to comment that working with Jim was not unlike visiting an insane asylum.”
9 Jim Carrey Owns The Real Coco Bongo Club
The scene in The Mask where Jim Carrey’s character dances with Cameron Diaz’s Tina is one of the most beloved segments of the film. There’s no doubt that many audience members wished they could also be dancing and having a good time at the Coco Bongo club where all the fun was happening in the film.
If you’re one of those people pining to throw dance in this fictional club, you’re in luck.
The Coco Bongo club really does exist, and according to Geeks, and it’s owned by none other than Jim Carrey himself. Located in Mexico, the Coco Bongo club puts on extravagant Las Vegas-style shows, and is apparently a very popular destination for both tourists and fans of the film. Who knows, you might even get to see “Cuban Pete” performed if you go.
8 Cameron Diaz Had To Audition 12 Times for Her Role
Cameron Diaz was completely new to acting when she took on the role of Tina Carlyle in The Mask, but her sheer beauty and clear charisma evidently were enough for the film’s production team to trust that she would be right for the part.
However, that being said, because of her complete inexperience in the acting world, Diaz was forced to audition twelve times before she secured her part in the movie.
Entertainment Weekly reveals that Diaz had a six week-long audition process and that New Line Cinema called her in to read with Carrey a dozen times. Diaz said: “I was ready to have a nervous breakdown. [...] I kept thinking ‘I’m going to disappoint them and they’re going to fire me.’”
Well, she certainly didn’t disappoint anybody, and the role skyrocketed her to immense fame and fortune.
7 Jim Carrey based his performance on his father
There are certain characters in movies that are so over-the-top and so full of personality that you have to wonder whether or not they’re actually based on real-life people.
In an interview on Roger Ebert, Carrey revealed that he looked to his father in order to gain inspiration for his role in The Mask: “He’s like a cartoon. I mean, he’s just not natural. I use my father in a lot of different things. Stanley Ipkiss is a lot of my father.”
Clearly Carrey’s father must have been a pretty unique man in order to be the guiding light behind one of cinema’s wackiest characters.
We only wish we could see some footage of the man being his strange self.
We’ll just have to make do with watching and re-watching The Mask instead.
6 Jim Carrey Wasn’t Meant To Use His Fake Teeth The Whole Time
The Mask wouldn’t be The Mask without his huge, white, grinning teeth, and it’s safe to say that this dental accessory really does bring the whole look together. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, those iconic teen weren’t meant to be worn throughout the entirety of the film.
Apparently, Jim Carrey was only supposed to wear the big, fake teeth during silent scenes as everyone assumed they would be too difficult to speak in and wear the whole time.
Carrey specifically learned to talk with them in, to make his character even more cartoonish.
It’s clear that Carrey is hugely dedicated to his job as an actor. He went to extra lengths in order to make his character the best it could be.
5 Carrey Turned Down A Ton Of Money For The Sequel
The Mask was a huge blockbuster success when it came out, raking in a whopping $351 million in the summer of 1994, according to the book Representing Talent: Hollywood Agents and the Making of Movies by Violaine Roussel. It’s only natural, then, that New Line Cinema would want a sequel to be made.
Of course, it was hoped that Jim Carrey would get on board.
The L.A. Times notes that Carrey was offered the enormous sum of $10 million dollars to reprise his role as Stanley Ipkiss, but to everyone’s surprise, he turned it down.
Carrey didn’t want to just take a role for the sake of money.
He didn't think he could bring anything new to his Mask character. The idea for the sequel was scrapped until the box-office disaster Son of the Mask came out in 2005, sans Carrey.
4 Anna Nicole Smith almost played Tina
Even with no acting experience whatsoever, Cameron Diaz was absolutely magnificent as Tina Carlyle in The Mask. She proved to everyone, including herself, that she could do more than just model, and thanks to her hard work and resolve to become an actress, she became a Hollywood star practically overnight.
It’s hard to imagine what Diaz’s career would look like today had the production team gone with one of their original choice of actress to play Tina, as noted by Vanity Fair: Anna Nicole Smith.
After auditioning twelve times for the role, though, Diaz was chosen, and the rest, as they say, is history.
3 Milo The Dog's bad behavior
Everybody knows the true MVP of The Mask is Milo the dog, who played Stanley Ipkiss’ loyal companion in the film. As they say in show business, you should never work with animals or children. This statement seems to have rung true for the makers of The Mask since it turns out that Milo wasn’t exactly the perfectly behaved pooch they hoped he’d be.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the scene in the film where Stanley Ipkiss tries to shovel money into a closet using a frisbee wasn’t meant to have Milo grabbing onto the frisbee at all.
Luckily, Jim Carrey is such a talented improviser, that he went along with whatever Milo was doing.
It turns out that this take was the one they used in the final cut of the movie.
2 There Are Loads Of '90s Pop Culture References You Probably Missed
It’s clear when watching The Mask that the film takes inspiration from the old-school cartoons we all know and love, especially many of the Looney Tunes characters. However, there’s a good chance that today’s audiences who have never seen The Mask before might not pick up on some of the older references sprinkled throughout the movie.
One of these is the contextual story to The Mask’s famous “That’s a Spicy Meatball” quote.
This is actually a reference to a famous advert in the '90s for Alka Seltzer where a man has to repeatedly eat meatballs for a commercial.
There’s also a reference to Sally Field’s 1984 Oscar acceptance speech, when she famously said “You like me, you really, really like me”, and The Mask mimics this by saying “You love me, you really love me” while holding a fake Oscar statue.
1 The Director Was Inspired By Silent Film Stars
Jim Carrey was the perfect actor to play The Mask thanks to his immense talent for physical comedy. The way he can move his face and body made him the ideal person to embody the cartoonish Mask persona.
One of the reasons director Chuck Russell was so keen to have Carrey on board is because he was inspired by silent era movie stars for the making of The Mask.
In an interview with The Hollywood News, he stated: “I knew that I wanted to infuse the energy of a silent film into the physical comedy of a modern film. [...] I had some inspiration from Buster Keaton and the other silent film greats. If you look at the physical energy from them it’s actually quite mind bending. So an athletic comedian like Jim Carrey really shares that.”
Do you have any trivia to share about The Mask? Leave it in the comments!