File this one away with the other entries in the “eccentric actor” folder: Jim Carrey, speaking at the premiere of a new documentary at the Venice Film Festival on Friday, said that he lost his identity and was essentially possessed by the spirit of Andy Kaufman while he was shooting 1999’s Man on the Moon.
“It was psychotic at times,” Carrey said of his time on the set of the Andy Kaufman biopic that won him critical acclaim. The topic came up while Carrey was discussing the new documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – The Story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton, which premiered at the festival on Friday. The film is a close-up look at the making of Man on the Moon, and includes behind-the-scenes footage that shows the great lengths that Carrey went to in order to accurately portray the famously-eccentric Kaufman. For Carrey, that meant losing himself in the role, going full method.
“Jim Carrey didn’t exist at that time,” admitted Carrey. “The true author of the project is Andy and his genius, 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.”
And lose himself he did. Carrey acknowledged that he delved so deep into the role of Kaufman that he repeatedly butt heads with Man on the Moon director Milos Forman. What’s more, his “possession” by Kaufman carried over into his next film, with Carrey apparently spending two hours on the phone with How the Grinch Stole Christmas director Ron Howard, completely in character as Kaufman, giving notes on the script.
If Jim Carrey, playing Andy Kaufman, playing The Grinch, discussing script notes on the phone with Ron Howard isn’t the most batshit insane thing that I’ve heard all day, I don’t know what is.
Check out the full article, which contains some more illuminating quotes from Carrey regarding his views on personal identity, over at The Hollywood Reporter.