How old was Cameron Diaz in her breakout role in ‘The Mask?’

Cameron-Diaz-The-Mask
Image via New Line Cinema

Few celebrities can call themselves an overnight success, but Cameron Diaz is one of them.

When the actress landed her breakout role in the movie The Mask, she had never professionally acted before. That’s right, Diaz was practically plucked off the streets and thrown into one of Hollywood’s most memorable movies, and now she’s a household name.  

Her biggest films include There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels, and Shrek, among others. She’s been nominated for four Golden Globes, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a BAFTA. Her comedic timing, tell-it-like-it-is personality, and formidable on-screen presence have made her a force to be reckoned with, and in 2013 she even became the highest-paid Hollywood actress over the age of 40, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite all this, in 2014, at the height of her career, Diaz did the unexpected and stepped away from Hollywood. Her last movie was Annie, in which she starred as the child-hating orphanage leader, Miss Agatha Hannigan.

The 49-year-old former actress is no longer making movies, but she is still very much a part of the entertainment industry. In 2021, she appeared on Kevin Hart’s Peacock’s original series Hart to Heart to discuss her motivations for quitting acting, saying that there were “so many parts of my life…that I wasn’t touching and that I wasn’t managing.” Even though she still loves acting, as she told Hart, the longing for a sense of autonomy over her life was larger than her desire to keep performing.

Since quitting acting, Diaz married Benji Madden in 2015 and gave birth to their daughter, Raddix, in 2019. She continues appear in one interview or another, from The Drew Barrymore Show to the The Kelly Clarkson Show, and even starred as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 in 2022.

It’s been almost three decades since her breakout role in The Mask, and even after all these years, the film is still a classic, with Diaz as formidable as ever. The movie is among the best, if not most enjoyable, films to come out of the ’90s, and Diaz has gone on to do exponential things with her career since then. But how old was she when she starred as the beautiful Tina Carlyle? Here’s what you need to know.

How old was Cameron Diaz in The Mask?

Diaz was the spry age of 20 when she landed the role of Tina in The Mask. Until then, she had never professionally acted in a movie or TV show before. She told Hart in her interview on Hart to Heart that she didn’t initially even interview for the part because the director, Chuck Russell, was trying to nab Anna Nicole Smith for the role, but after seeing Diaz, Russell was convinced that he’d found the better candidate. “She is my Tina Carlyle,” he said. “I want her.”

Diaz turned 21 on the set of the film, a very formative time in any young person’s life. She told Hart that before The Mask, acting was “wasn’t my thing,” and that it was “never the plan.” However, filming it had been so much fun that afterwards she felt like “this is what I want to do.” Of course, that didn’t mean she was going to take just any role in any movie. Like many women from decades past (and present), the movies she was offered were often for stereotypical roles that subjected her to sexualization and objectification, and she wanted no part in that. “I don’t want to do the parts they’re going to ask me to do. Those are not the parts I want to do,” she said.

Diaz became one of Hollywood’s leading ladies after that, all the way until her retirement in 2014. She is widely known for her funny bone and has delivered some of the most iconic comedies of the last two decades. Beyond that, she’s also flexed her acting chops in serious dramas like My Sister’s Keeper and Being John Malkovich. From her breakout hit to her final goodbye, this overnight success carved her own path in Hollywood, leaving behind two decades’ worth of movies to remember her by.