Most of the viewing public doesn’t know that The Mask was adapted from a very dark, morbid graphic novel series. It entailed the wearer of the mask becoming a psychotic killer, who murdered victims in comical fashions for petty reasons. This is not the final incarnation of the movie, of course, as it became a colorful comedy that played to the strengths of its star. A lot of money was saved on special effects because Jim Carrey’s body movements were so cartoonish that they rarely needed to be enhanced digitally.
Many of his scenes were ad-libbed, and he based the bright yellow suit he wore on the suit his mother gave him to wear for his first stand-up performance. By playing mild-mannered Stanley Ipkiss who turned into a zany loon, Jim Carrey got to stretch his acting range and show that he could play a semi-dramatic leading man as well as a wacko. It was also the first film of Cameron Diaz’s career! With its daring visuals, strange humor, and eye-popping special effects, it was a hit in the ’90s and remains a cult classic. CBR looks into where the cast of The Mask is now and how their lives have changed over the years.
15. JIM CARREY
The rubber-faced Canadian actor was practically made to play The Mask, especially given his outrageous body language and expressions that perfectly complemented the CGI. 1994 was a banner year for the comedian, with the releases of Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective along with The Mask cementing him as a highly sought after star.
While the former films had him playing up ridiculous tropes, The Mask allowed him the creative flexibility to play both The Mask and mild-mannered banker Stanley Ipkiss. He could be hilarious in an understated way, and even convey a series of dramatic emotions. Most recently, a grueling court has kept his name topical but for all the wrong reasons and his recent films have been less than well received, but hopefully he lands a project that showcases his particular talents.
14. AMY YASBECK
A comic actress in her own right, she played Peggy Brandt, the intrepid reporter that followed The Mask as his antics became infamous all over town. Willing to do anything for a story, she used her friendship with Stanley Ipkiss to arrange a meeting with The Mask and, after he transformed into him (unbeknownst to her), she turned him right over to Dorian because reporters make crap money.
Having appeared in such hits as Pretty Woman and Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Mask was in a series of hits she was in during the ’90s. She had guest spots in about every major television show before that, from Magnum, P.I. to Dragnet and Quantum Leap. She was on Wings for several years following The Mask, but after that it was back to cameos and guest spots. She was also married to John Ritter.
13. PETER RIEGERT
As Lt. Mitch Kellaway, Peter Riegert brought a wry wit and a deadpan delivery to an ordinarily bland cop role. With such memorable lines as “Those pajamas are impossible, this actually happened” he instantly became the perfect straight man foil to The Mask’s outrageous antics. Having been in such notable comedies as M*A*S*H and Animal House, he was already a veteran comedy actor for over a decade before signing on to the film.
With a career spanning over 30 years, Peter Riegert has appeared beside numerous well-known celebrities in film. On television, he’s had recurring roles in dramatic serials such as Law and Order: SVU and Damages, as well as comedies like Dads and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He proves that a good character actor is always appreciated and can get consistent work in any era.
12. RICHARD JENI
Many of the great early moments in The Mask came from Stanley Ipkiss’s bank buddy Charlie Schumaker playing the smooth-talking Casanova to his befuddled everyman. Charlie invites him to the Coco Bongo Club and, while he’s able to get in, Stanley is consistently thrown out. Richard Jeni made an ordinarily hammy, unlikable cad into someone you might actually want to hang around.
A comedy writer in the ’80s, The Mask was only his second major film role. He would go on to be in the TV series Platypus Man and most recently have a cameo in Everybody Hates Chris. It was his stand-up that got him the most accolades, and he was a regular on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was found shot in his West Hollywood apartment in 2007 by his then girlfriend, and many famous comedians, including Tim Allen and Jay Leno, attended his private wake.
11. JIM DOUGHAN
Doyle was Lt. Kellaway’s buffoonish partner assigned to The Mask case, and often provided a lot of comic relief (often at his own expense) throughout the movie. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, he has an almost childlike sense of wonder involving The Mask’s antics, and while the “good cop, bad cop” routine has been played out many times before, Jim Doughan does it with gusto.
A character actor that popped up in famous series throughout the ’80s and ’90s such as Moonlighting, Night Court, Who’s the Boss? and The Golden Girls, The Mask was hardly his first comedic foray. He also appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in both Stuart Little 1 and 2. His two most recent movies were Evan Almighty and Hotel for Dogs.
10. JOHNNY WILLIAMS
Burt was one half of the duo of mechanics that give Stanley Ipkiss his “loaner” vehicle when he needs to meet Charlie at the Coco Bongo Club. It’s his idea to screw Stanley out of a lot of money and give him a complete scrapheap of a car to drive. It ends up breaking down on the bridge that Stanley eventually leaps from to retrieve the mask he sees floating in the waters below.
With a career that started with the television show The Harlem Globetrotters in 1970 and included guest appearances on Tales From the Crypt and playing a heavy in Goodfellas, he was already an established character actor by the time The Mask came out. He’s had a steady stream of guest spots on well-known television shows over the years like Ray Donovan and The Mindy Project, his most recent project being the movie Frank and Ava.
9. TIM BAGLEY
The other half of the mechanic duo that screws over Stanley Ipkiss is Irv who, while not the brightest bulb in the tail light, recognizes an opportunity to make a quick buck when he sees it. He goes along with Burt’s intentions to take Stanley for a sucker, and when The Mask returns to the autobody shop to seek retribution for what they did, he is given a painful reminder that while there may be a sucker born every minute, Stanley Ipkiss wasn’t one of them.
Tim Bagley has had a long career in Hollywood as a character actor, which started in the early ’90s with The Mask being his third film. He would go on to appear in every major show at the time, from The Nanny to Seinfeld, as well as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Monk. Catch him most recently in the critically acclaimed Grace and Frankie.
8. REG E. CATHEY
As the appropriately named Freeze, Reg E. Cathey played one of Dorian’s goons that was calm and collected. While Dorian surrounded himself with a lot of muscle, it was mostly in the form of your typical black blazer wearing beefcake sporting a ponytail to compliment his handgun. Freeze was involved in the technological parts of the bank robberies Dorian orchestrated, that is until he got shot in the line of duty. Before dying in Dorian’s arms, he gets one last cigarette placed between his lips, but dies before he can have so much as a last drag.
His face is a familiar one of ’90s movies and TV, with roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Airheads, and Tank Girl. In the 2000s he landed a recurring role on Oz and The Wire. His latest appearances have been in the current series Outcast and the upcoming film Flock of Four.
7. ORESTES MATACENA
As the intimidating Niko who liked to use minions as means to try out his new 9 irons, Orestes Matacena added just the right amount of brooding intensity to the ordinarily thankless role of mob boss. Maybe it’s because he was born in Havana Cuba, and when he patiently smoked a cigar while a goon blubbered excuses as to why they couldn’t get a job done, you knew the next words out of his mouth were going to spell doom.
His career as an actor began in the ’70s, but he has written, directed, and produced many films as well, including In Plain View, Fatal Encounter, and Tainted. Shortly after The Mask he wrote and directed Bitter Sugar about growing up during Fidel Castro’s dictatorship. As a teen, he participated in the resistance fighting to overthrow Fidel Castro himself. His most recent acting work was in the movie Random.
6. PETER GREENE
Tall, cadaverous looking, with a deep voice and piercing eyes, Peter Greene made for a menacing antagonist to The Mask. He played Dorian, the right hand thug of Niko that eventually went on to overtake his criminal empire, who wanted to get his hands on the mask for himself. He also happened to be Tina Carlyle’s boyfriend, who she knew was bad news but feared violent retaliation if she tried to leave him.
Appearing in such character heavy films as Laws of Gravity and Clean, Shaven in the early ’90s, he appeared in The Mask the same year he appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as a torturer named Zed. He then went on to be in the critically acclaimed The Usual Suspects in 1995. Recently he’s been seen on television in guest spots on Hawaii Five-O, Chicago P.D. and several independent films.
5. NANCY FISH
As the curmudgeonly neighbor of Stanley Ipkiss, Nancy Fish played Mrs. Peenman with relish and gave Jim Carrey a chance to have some of his most hilarious encounters without the mask on. Like a henpecking partner or an overbearing boss, whenever he was having a bad day she made it 10 times worse with her shrill voice and relentless assault on his character. Though no one on earth would want her as their neighbor and landlord, everyone can definitely identify with Stanley’s plight.
Nancy Fish started her acting career with a spot on General Hospital, then in bit roles in films like Howard the Duck and Sudden Impact, before finally securing recurring roles on Roseanne and Brooklyn Bridge. After that it was back to spots on Tales from the Crypt and an appearance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. She can most recently be seen in the smash hit Legion.
4. HA NGUYEN
Something that immediately stands out in The Mask is the costuming. From the bright canary yellow zoot suit that Jim Carrey wears, to the flame red dress that Cameron Diaz shimmies around in, the costumes are as much a part of the character as the actor’s performances. This is the work of Ha Nguyen, a Vietnamese costume designer and executive known for her work on the Nutty Professor series, Super 8, and Shooter.
In her early days, she worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Robocop 3, and Mortal Kombat. Other, more recent credits include Shooter, Priest, and the Sylvester Stallone action flick Bullet to the Head. At the time she was invited to join in 1996, she was the only Vietnamese-born female member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. She also served on the Foreign Language Committee for 10 years.
3. MIKE WERB
Both a producer of The Mask and responsible for its screenplay, Mike Werb has made a consistent career of screenwriting in Hollywood working for every major studio. His first film credit was for The Mask, which led to him writing several other fan favorites of the ’90s, including Face/Off, and in the 2000s he co-wrote the first Tomb Raider film starring Angelina Jolie. He also notably co-wrote Collateral Damage, the last major motion picture to star Arnold Schwarzenegger before he would go on to become the “Govinator” of California.
Recently he’s written animated films such as Curious George and Firehouse Dog, as well as Unnatural History, a live-action adventure series for Cartoon Network. His most recent project is Salvation, a TV series about an impending asteroid on a collision course for Earth.
2. CHUCK RUSSELL
A producer and director of such genre films as Eraser and The Scorpion King, Chuck Russell had only Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and The Blob under his belt before he signed on to direct The Mask. At first he wanted it to have a dark tone, since it was originally based on a Dark Horse comic book series that featured horror stories of The Mask murdering people with various cartoon antics. However, since casting Jim Carrey in the lead, he really wanted to capitalize on the star’s special brand of comedy.
After The Mask he directed Bless the Child, The Scorpion King, an episode of Fringe, and then nothing for several years before I Am Wrath. He currently has two films in production for release in 2017; Beautiful Voice and The Hunchback, with The Seven Sins slated for 2019.
1. CAMERON DIAZ
When she signed on to play the sizzling Tina Carlyle, it was her first role in a major motion picture. Cameron Diaz wasn’t the household name she is now, and it would be several years before There’s Something About Mary. “The most beautiful flower of the Coco Bongo Club” was almost played by Anna Nicole Smith, but they decided to take a chance on a young model with no film credits.
After her auspicious film debut, she starred in several films throughout the ’90s, notably Being John Malkovich, Charlie’s Angels, and adding her voice to Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. The last few years have seen her involved in charitable causes, producing and writing films with pals Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore, and enjoying married life to her recent husband, Benji Madden.
Would you want to see an official sequel to The Mask someday? Let us know in the comments!
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