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Ron Howard thought Jim Carrey wouldn’t make it through The Grinch

How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become a nostalgic favourite, but it came with a price - Jim Carrey's eyeballs. The star was in so much pain, he almost quit.

Jim Carrey as The Grinch

2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become a beloved Christmas movie, and is particularly praised for Rick Baker’s extraordinary make up effects. While the Whovians certainly look weird and wonderful, the latex and contact lenses caused great discomfort for the cast – especially star Jim Carrey. In fact, director Ron Howard thought he wouldn’t be able to complete the film, until Carrey trained with a Navy SEAL to learn how to handle the pain.


In an interview with Empire Magazine, Howard and Carrey discussed how hard it was to make the film, which involved Carrey getting to the studio for 6:30am every morning, spending four hours in the make-up chair and then donning the 10lb bodysuit before a single frame of film was even shot – all of which soon began to take its toll on the star.

“Some people can wear contacts and some can’t,” Howard pointed out, “and Jim can’t, but he had to, because he knew it was right for the character. But there were days when we had an optometrist standing by all the time with a super magnifying glass because he always got stuff in his eyes, and then we were told he couldn’t film.”

Howard was genuinely worried that “Carrey wouldn’t be able to make it through the movie.” Carrey was sent off to train with a Navy SEAL, an expert in teaching paramilitaries how to cope with intense discomfort. After a weekend of mastering the techniques and learning how to handle pain principles, Carrey came back a changed man. “It was tough, the first couple of weeks, but then I was able to transcend it because I learned about pain deferment and things like that. You can pinch your arm or something like that to take the focus off your discomfort. It’s amazing what humans can get used to,” Carrey said.

Howard had to join in at one point, to cheer up the cast; “My brother Clint is in the movie and he said to me, ‘You know, everybody’s getting a little down. If there’s maybe some kind of stunt you could pull, wear the make-up, let people know that you know it’s tough…’ So one morning without telling anyone, I slipped into the make-up chair at about 3:30am in the morning and donned the costume, and shocked Jim, and got a real cheap laugh out of the crew, and I think people appreciated that I was willing to endure at least one day. It was a bizarre day in Whoville to have two Grinches wandering around.”

The movie went on to make $345 million and has become a nostalgic favourite that people like to return to every Christmas. If you’re still in the festive mood, but looking for something a bit different, check out our guide to the best Christmas horror movies.