Then and now: The cast of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' 20 years later

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."Focus Features
  • It's been two decades since "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" first came out in theaters.

  • The movie has been back in the spotlight following the release of Ariana Grande's new album, "Eternal Sunshine."

  • Business Insider has taken a look at what the cast has done since the film came out.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" premiered in theaters 20 years ago, in 2004.

Directed by Michel Gondry, the sci-fi romance centers on a man named Joel (Jim Carrey) who discovers that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had their relationship erased from her memory following their breakup.

Determined to move on, Joel gets the same experimental procedure, only to find himself falling for her all over again as he relives their memories together.

At the time, many praised Carrey and Winslet's performances as well as the script, for which the movie won an Academy Award for best original screenplay.

And it seems it hasn't lost any of its charm over the years, still holding strong critic and audience ratings on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

The cult classic has been back in the spotlight lately thanks in part to popstar Ariana Grande, who has coopted the movie's title for her latest album, "Eternal Sunshine," which was released earlier this month.

To mark the film's 20th anniversary, Business Insider has taken a look at what the cast of the film has been up to since it was released.

Jim Carrey was best known for his comedy work when he was cast as the movie's heartbroken protagonist.

Jim Carrey Eternal Sunshine
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was directed by Michel Gondry.Focus Features

Before taking on the role of the introverted and neurotic Joel Barish in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Jim Carrey was already an established name in Hollywood.

He started out as a stand-up comedian in the 1980s before being cast as the lead in a series of comedy movies.

The Canadian-American actor became known for his roles in films such as "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Mask," and "Dumb and Dumber" — all of which were released in 1994.

He went on to star in timeless classics like "The Truman Show" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

These days, Carrey's not acting so much and has said he was considering retirement.

Jim Carrey at the Los Angeles Premiere Screening of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" held at Regency Village Theatre on April 5th, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Jim Carrey in 2022.Gilbert Flores/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images

After "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" — for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe — Carrey gave a memorable performance as the villain Count Olaf in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events."

He also took on multiple roles in Disney's 3D animated take on the Charles Dickens tale, "A Christmas Carol."

Most recently, he played Dr. Robotnik in the 2022 film "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

However, he stated in 2022 that he was seriously considering retirement.

Kate Winslet mainly starred in period pieces before she was cast as the erratic Clementine.

Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."Focus Features

Winslet had her breakout performance in the 1997 classic "Titanic," in which she starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. That role earned her her first best actress Oscar nomination.

She also appeared in adaptations of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" and William Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

Winslet is still acting and recently starred in the "Avatar" sequel.

Kate Winslet at the New York premiere of "The Regime" held at the Museum of Natural History on February 26, 2024 in New York City.
Kate Winslet in 2024.John Nacion/Variety via Getty Images

Winslet landed a second best actress nomination for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and followed up the performance with a series of other Oscar-nominated roles, including "Little Children" and "The Reader."

In 2008, she reunited with DiCaprio in "Revolutionary Road" and branched out to a franchise in 2014 with the release of the first "Divergent" movie.

Winslet most recently appeared in the HBO miniseries "The Regime," where she plays the paranoid chancellor of a collapsing "authoritarian regime."

Elijah Wood had achieved international recognition for "Lord of the Rings" before taking a supporting role in the film.

Elijah Wood in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Elijah Wood in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."Focus Features

Elijah Wood portrayed Patrick Wertz, one of the technicians tasked with erasing Joel's memory, who uses the information he knows about Clementine to try to win her over.

The movie was the first Wood starred in following the release of the final installment in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "Return of the King."

The fantasy franchise catapulted Wood to A-list status in the early 2000s.

Wood has branched out into almost every genre since — and also works as a DJ.

Elijah Wood at the world premiere of season 2 of "Yellowjackets" held at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Elijah Wood in 2023.Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

Wood has since starred in the animated musical "Happy Feet," the rom-com "The Romantics," the psychological slasher "Maniac," and the zombie flick, "Cooties."

The actor also cofounded the production company SpectreVision, and he has gone on to produce films including "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," "Mandy," and "Color Out of Space."

More recently, Wood starred in the film "The Toxic Avenger" alongside "Game of Thrones" actor Peter Dinklage.

Wood has also DJed since 2000, he previously told The New York Times Style Magazine.

Kirsten Dunst was best known for her role in the first "Spider-Man" film when "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was released.

Kirsten Dunst in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Kirsten Dunst in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."Focus Features

In the movie, Dunst plays Mary Svevo, who works for the memory-zapping company.

By the time she appeared in the film, Dunst was already a seasoned actor. She was known for her roles in the "Spider-Man" series, "Little Women," and "Interview With a Vampire."

Dunst has gone on to become an Oscar-nominated star but said recently she struggles to find good roles.

US actress Kirsten Dunst attends the 96th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 10, 2024.
Kirsten Dunst in 2024.Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

After "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Dunst portrayed the titular character in Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette."

She also returned to the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the third "Spider-Man" movie in 2007.

More recently, the actor earned a 2022 Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her performance in "The Power of the Dog."

But in a recent interview with Marie Claire, Dunst said she took a step back from acting after starring in the 2021 film because she was not happy with the kind of roles she was being offered.

"Every role I was being offered was the sad mom," Dunst said.

Dunst is set to return to the screen in the upcoming dystopian action film "Civil War."

Mark Ruffalo was a rising star in Hollywood at the time the movie was released.

Mark Ruffalo in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Mark Ruffalo in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."Focus Features

Ruffalo's breakout role came in the 2000 film "You Can Count on Me," in which he starred alongside Matthew Broderick and Laura Linney.

He also played a leading role in "13 Going on 30" in the same year "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was released.

He is now an Oscar-nominated leading man and Marvel star.

Mark Ruffalo arriving at the 2024 Oscars Nominees Luncheon Red Carpet at the The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills , CA, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.
Mark Ruffalo in 2024.Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Following his small part as a technician in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Ruffalo starred in a series of romantic films, including "Just Like Heaven" with Reese Witherspoon and "Rumor Has It…" with Jennifer Aniston.

He also joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a replacement for Edward Norton's "The Hulk" character in 2012's "The Avengers."

Ruffalo has also taken on more serious roles in dramas such as "Zodiac," "Dark Waters," and "Spotlight."

In 2024, he earned an Oscar nomination for his role as lawyer Duncan Wedderburn in "Poor Things."

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