If you’ve ever heard Jim Carrey speak about playing Andy Kaufman in the 1999 film Man On The Moon, he saw it less as adopting a character, and more as an intrusive possession from beyond the grave.
“The true author of the project is Andy and his genius,” Carrey told THR. “The fact that he committed so completely to what he did, really made that possible and made it essential for me to lose myself. I don’t feel like I made the film at all. I feel like Andy made the film.”
Now a new documentary coming to Netflix will lift the veil on this manic process, being crafted from over 100 hours of footage shot on the set of the film. Man on the Moon. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond—Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton is directed by Chris Smith, and will also feature interviews with Carrey, cast members, and those involved in the film.
Now, this following run, again from the THR coverage from Venice Film Festival, explains how deeply Carrey got into playing the character, to the point where he basically willied himself out of believing in his own existence, focusing on the fact that — as Moby once said — we are all made of stars. “The fact is you don’t exist. You’re nothing but ideas”, he says at one point.
“I feel like my personality was something that I thought was everything to me at the beginning of this incredible journey I’m on. Doing characters for the films, especially with Andy, the realisation starts to hit you after awhile that even you are playing the character as a character,” he said. “This [documentary] experience as well kind of draws some realisations, especially that there’s a character that is playing me my whole life.”
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“I think that’s the truth of everybody. There’s an energy that has been given a label and a bunch of ideas about their heritage and about their nationality and all those things that are supposed to be anchors to a boat that doesn’t exist,” he continued. “We spend our life running around looking for anchors. ‘Oh, I’m Italian, that’s who I am.’ The fact is you don’t exist. You’re nothing but ideas. We take all those ideas and cobble them together and make sort of a personality charm bracelet, an ID bracelet we wear in life. But that’s not who we are, because we’re nothing. And it’s such a fucking relief.”
It is a relief.
No official word yet on when the documentary will be on Netflix (well, one word: “soon”.)