Jim Carrey said that the death of his former girlfriend, Cathriona White, had left him feeling as if he had been hit with “a lightning bolt’‘. A coroner will investigate the circumstances — she was found at her home in Los Angeles after an apparent split from Carrey last week.
The actor and the Irish make-up artist had enjoyed a discreet relationship, in keeping with the low-key way that Carrey has lived his private life in recent years after a string of high-profile romances with famous actresses.
He may have built a career on the back of on-screen exuberance, but privately the actor has sought to preserve the precarious balance of his mental health. “I was on Prozac for a long time. It may have helped me out of a jam for a little bit, but people stay on it for ever. I had to get off at a certain point because I realised that, you know, everything’s just OK,” he once said.
In his films he often appears to be performing after adrenaline injections. Off-screen he avoids alcohol and stimulants to maintain his equilibrium. “I rarely drink coffee. I’m very serious about no alcohol, no drugs. Life is too beautiful.” He describes himself as a “spiritual but not religious guy” and says: “I am a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian. It all comes down to the same thing. You’re in a loving place or you’re in an unloving place.”
Until very recently he appeared to be in a loving place with White, 28, who was from Tipperary. They reportedly met in 2012 and were together until 2013. After a break they got back together this year. Over the past few weeks he posted on his Twitter account pictures that she had taken of him at Grand Central Station and by a tranquil lake. They had been seen out and about together in New York, with Carrey, 53, sporting a grizzled beard.
In an interview published last year, apparently when they were not an item, he said: “As far as dating and stuff goes, I am in love with everybody — all shapes, sizes, whatever … I have a lot of short relationships. People get mad at me because I can’t stay in a relationship. But … I am sure there is someone who will make me want to.”
In the early 1980s Carrey dated the singer Linda Ronstadt. He has a daughter with his first wife, the actress Melissa Womer. He had a second marriage to his Dumb and Dumber co-star Lauren Holly from 1996 to 1997. Later he was engaged to Renée Zellweger, who starred with him in Me, Myself & Irene, and he had a five-year relationship with the actress Jenny McCarthy.
His peak success was in the decade from the mid-1990s. The magazine The Atlantic called him “the existential clown” because of his attraction to roles that combine comedy with philosophical questions. In The Truman Show he played Truman Burbank, a man trapped in a false reality created by an elaborate reality television program. In Liar Liar he was a man tormented by his inability to express a falsehood, and in Me, Myself & Irene he was a schizophrenic traffic policeman.
A sequel to Dumb and Dumber was released last year, but Carrey’s pace of work, never frantic, has slowed in recent years. He started as a stand-up comic and developed his brand of physical comedy when his mother was sick in bed. “I wanted to make her feel better. Basically, I think she laid in bed and took a lot of pain pills. I used to go in there and do impressions of praying mantises and throw myself down the stairs to make her feel better.”
This article first appeared on ‘The Australian’ on 1 October 2015.