Jim Carrey Wasn’t the Original Choice for Ace Ventura


The Big Picture

  • Rick Moranis was originally considered for the role of Ace Ventura in the film, but turned it down for unknown reasons.
  • Moranis may have been more selective about projects after the death of his wife and a desire to spend more time with his children.
  • Jim Carrey’s role in Ace Ventura launched his successful career in comedy, leading to several hit films in the same year.

If you were to ask anyone walking their dog down the street what their favorite Jim Carrey movie is, there’s a pretty good chance that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective will enter the conversation. It’s almost funny to see Ace Ventura: Pet Detective become such a popular fan-favorite due to how the film was critically panned when it was first released, but that hasn’t stopped the film from being a laugh-riot detective satire. Reviews be damned, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective even inspired one of the weirdest franchises ever made, with the grosser-than-gross direct sequel Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, the bizarre straight-to-video family film Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective, and even a little-known animated series simply titled Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Amazon even announced that Ace Ventura 3 was in development in 2021.

It’s abundantly clear that, like it or not, Ace Ventura is a comedy icon and much of that is thanks to an outrageously over-the-top performance from Jim Carrey. That said, what if we told you that Carrey was not the first choice to play such an iconic character? The original choice for the role is also a legendary figure in the world of comedy filmmaking, but his style of comedy is astronomically different from the wild and zany improvisation that Carrey is so well-known for.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

A goofy detective specializing in animals goes in search of the missing mascot of the Miami Dolphins.

Release Date
February 4, 1994

Tom Shadyac

86 minutes

Main Genre

He’s the best there is! (Actually, he’s the only one there is.)

Rick Moranis Turned Down ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’

The original choice to play Ace Ventura was ’80s and ’90s comedic icon Rick Moranis. The beloved actor and comedian’s career began on the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV, and that was just the start of an incredible career in entertainment. One could argue Moranis’ rise to superstardom began when he starred as Louis Tully in Ghostbusters, with his signature style of awkward, nerdy comedy shining through in the lawyer who gets possessed by a demonic dog. The iconic roles that Moranis would go on to star in cannot be understated. Sey our Krelborn in Little Shop of Horrors, Dark Helmet in Spaceballs, Wayne Szalinski in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Nathan Huffner in Parenthood, and Barney Coopersmith in My Blue Heaven are just some of the remarkable roles that Moranis played to perfection.


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The exact reason for Moranis turning down the part isn’t explicitly known. It’s very possible that Moranis may have been more selective about projects he accepted, given where he was at the time of his career and personal life. As many fans of Moranis likely know, the actor and comedian’s wife of five years, Ann Belsky, passed away from breast cancer in 1991. Moranis would continue to appear in live-action projects until 1997, when he decided to step away from feature film acting to raise his two children. According to Moranis himself in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he made the right call to take a break:

“I went from that to being at home with a couple of little kids, which is a very different lifestyle. But it was important to me. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. My life is wonderful.”

Given that development on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective began in 1994, in between Ann Belsky’s passing and the actor’s eventual hiatus, it’s possible that may have impacted Moranis’ decision to play the part. That or it could be a reason as simple and innocuous as Moranis not connecting with the screenplay, not feeling he was a good fit for the role, or simply having a schedule conflict. A likely candidate for a schedule conflict very well may have been the live-action remake of The Flinstones, which released the same year as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Moranis has a starring role as Barney Rubble in the “Steven Spielrock”-produced film, and given that The Flintstones is an established franchise where Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was a brand-new idea, that may have been perceived as a safer career choice.

‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ Launched Jim Carrey’s Comedy Career

Rick Moranis being a talented actor and comedian is far from a secret, but it’s probably a good thing that the part of Ace Ventura went to Jim Carrey instead of him. While Ace Ventura: Pet Detective probably went through many changes during its development, as is the case with pretty much every feature film, the way the character is depicted in the final film just doesn’t fit with Moranis’ strengths. There’s a good chance that Moranis’ version of the character would have been vastly different to the extroverted and outspoken craziness of Jim Carrey’s performance.

Speaking of Carrey, the legendary actor and comedian owes a lot of his career to the success of his role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It was one of his first starring roles, and after its release, Carrey starred in hit after hit. The same year Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was released, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber hit theaters. It’s a blockbuster run that most leading actors can only dream of, and one that may not have been possible without Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. All in all, it seems that both Jim Carrey and Rick Moranis made the right decisions for their lives and careers.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is available to watch on AMC+ in the U.S.

Watch on AMC+


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