Cameron Diaz has been a Hollywood staple over the past two decades, having made dozens of movies and having been nominated for multiple awards during that time. With such an extensive filmography, it might lead to many fans wondering about the starlet’s first movie.
Cameron Diaz’s first movie role was 1994’s hit comedy, The Mask. Able to hold her own against the formidable comedy legend Jim Carrey, most people are surprised to learn that the then 21-year old Cameron Diaz had never graced a film screen before.
Read more below about Cameron Diaz’s rise to fame and how she landed the role that put her on the map with Hollywood’s elite.
Southern California Roots
Cameron Diaz was born in San Diego, California to Billie and Emilio Diaz, but despite growing up in the ritzy coastal city of Long Beach, the Diaz family lived frugally. In an interview with Britain’s Stella magazine, the actress said, “I had amazing parents, they were awesome. We weren’t privileged – very much the opposite.”
Despite her inauspicious upbringing, it was while attending Long Beach Polytechnic High School with fellow classmate, Snoop Dogg, that the blonde beauty found her first taste of fame. She was signed to Elite Model Management at 16-years old.
Once she had a modeling contract, Cameron Diaz trotted the globe working for major fashion brands such as Calvin Klein and Levi’s. Diaz even made the cover of Seventeen magazine in the summer of 1990.
Model to Movie Star
After graduation Diaz continued to model, but on the recommendation of an agent at Elite Model Management, she auditioned for the role of jazz singer, Tina Carlyle, in The Mask. Initially producers wanted the late Anna Nicole Smith to play the role, but after meeting the Playboy Playmate, the casting director decided to audition other actresses and models for the part.
Despite having no acting experience, Cameron Diaz wowed the casting director, Fern Champion, who noted that the model had “instant likability.” After multiple callbacks that spanned the course of six weeks, the studio finally agreed that Diaz was the right woman for the role, but required her to take acting lessons.
The Making of The Mask
The movie’s plot centers around a mild-mannered banker named Stanley Ipkiss (played by Jim Carrey), who finds a magic mask that allows him to live out his fantasies. Diaz’s Tina Carlyle is the object of both Ipkiss’ and The Mask’s affections in the film, and Carrey’s character ultimately saves her and the city from her gangster boyfriend’s nefarious plot.
The movie’s success turned Cameron Diaz into an instant star. The blond bombshell’s talent and good looks resulted in a bevy of roles in the years that followed, including the mega-hit My Best Friend’s Wedding opposite icon Julia Roberts, and eventually her Golden Globe Award-nominated lead role in There’s Something About Mary.
You can watch Cameron Diaz discuss her role in The Mask and its impact on her career in the below YouTube video.
Cameron Diaz’s Legacy
Cameron Diaz spent the next two decades working consistently, leading films to box office success. Diaz retired from acting in 2014, after her role in the film remake of Annie, but in turn has focused on her career as an author and on her personal life.
Cameron Diaz married Good Charlotte’s lead guitarist, Benji Madden, in a private ceremony in 2015 and the couple welcomed a daughter in January of 2020, with the notoriously private couple posting the news to Diaz’s Instagram account, to the shock of many.
Though Cameron Diaz may have retired from Hollywood, The Mask celebrated its 25th-anniversary last year, proving that the film has a lasting legacy in the film industry. Cameron Diaz’s first film catapulted her to fame, altering the course of her life and left a mark on Hollywood comedies forever.