In 2017, a documentary by the name Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a very special, contractually, obligated mention of Tony Clifton came out. It features behind-the-scenes footage of Man on the Moon (1999), a movie where Jim Carrey plays legendary comedian Andy Kaufman. Jim didn’t only play Kaufman in front of the camera, he also did (quite become Andy) behind the scenes. He didn’t go out of character for the whole shooting of the movie. This crazy method caused some beautiful insights on life, shared with us by Jim Carrey in the documentary mentioned above.
Trailers Man on the Moon and Jim & Andy
Take a look at the trailer below to get a bit of an idea about the movie and the character Jim played. Then we can easily go further because you’ve got more understanding of what I am talking about. 🙂 You can click the link on Jim & Andy if you want to watch the documentary trailer too.
Jim behind the scenes
As I said, Jim played Andy Kaufman both before and behind the camera. Lynne Margulies and Bob Zmuda were prominently on set when Jim acted as Andy. Lynne, for example, made the footage we see in the documentary. Jim Carrey caused people to cry. He caused people to love him and to hate him. He sometimes played Andy who was playing Tony Clifton, which is kind of an ‘inception’ of acting. An actor who plays an actor who plays a character. All in all, some people loved him and some people hated him for it, but Carrey remained in his role.
Identity Crisis and Labels
The same can be said for Andy Kaufman. As seen in the trailer, he didn’t be who he was. He remained in the role of the alter ego he created for his whole life. Everything he did was part of the alter ego. Some people hated that alter ego, either his Andy or Tony character, that’s for sure. But, no one would have even known him if he had stayed himself. They hated his characters, but they were inspiring in some way. Anyway, they were better than the real Andy. That’s what Andy thought. He believed that he had to act like people thought he was in order to remain famous. That probably caused a lot of problems for Andy as an individual, but it did cause some crazy situations as well. For example when Andy tells his closest friends and family members that he is going to die from cancer and they just wonder if it’s another joke or not.
For Jim Carrey, that same aspect played a huge role when playing Andy Kaufman. He decided to ‘go on a vacation from Jim’ and be Andy for a while. While playing Andy, the same problems as Andy had will arise. People loved him as Andy and people hated him as Andy, but that was all part of the act and Jim remained in his role. After finishing the movie, Jim became Jim again. But, as he says in the interview, that was kind of hard. He had to try and figure out who he was again. Jim became very unhappy to know that he was back with his own problems. He didn’t know who he was and how to act.
Then he realized something important. He was so happy being Andy because he was free from himself. He had lost himself, forgot himself. Forgot his politics, personality and individual problems. Then Jim Carry talks about the aspects of an individual, like himself. He speaks about nationality, religion, politics. But he notices that everything is so abstract. Because you are born behind a drawn line on a map who was made by humans, you are an American? Because you are born in a family, you have to not make that family look bad and live up to your expectations? Be a doctor, be successful etc? You have Catholic parents so you have to be Catholic too? Those abstract structures are supposed to hold us together, but, they don’t. You can better give them up.
In the final minutes, Jim talks about the afterlife. He says we either go to a place where we all go and, if there isn’t such a place there is a good chance that there isn’t any more than ‘this’. Then he points out to the interviewer that maybe the whole universe is them. He and his teacup. Only the moment. And he thinks that’s fine.
A few moments earlier he already mentioned his teacup. He said he didn’t think we are all free. He demonstrates it by his teacup, saying: ”When I’m thirsty, I’ll take a sip of my tea. But, who tells me that I’m thirsty? Do I really have the freedom to drink tea whenever I want? When I ain’t thirsty, I wouldn’t go and make tea, would I?” This way, Jim tells us that there are some human needs and situations where we all would do the same thing. We can’t control everything, but we can control our abstract labels and forget about our given purpose and let go of any purpose.
I think what Jim is trying to tell us, is that we can be whoever the hell we want to be!
People worry too much about what other people think about them. They worry too much about their image, their standards and their expectations. They are given some abstract structures -like nationality, religion, ideal future, family name, meaningful front name etc.- but, those abstract structures are letting people fall apart instead of holding them together. Individual and collectively. Humans tend to live up to an afterlife which maybe isn’t even there. Or they live the life they are expected to live but don’t even like to live. All we know for sure is that there is this moment. ”This moment where we are going 10.000 miles an hour while we are standing on a platonic plate that floats over lava.” I think what Jim really does is let us think: why do we worry and attach ourselves so much to abstract things if they are keeping us from happiness and being happy in this very moment?
I noticed when Jim was talking about this, he wasn’t showing that he was very happy about it or very sad. He just showed, with his facial expressions and soft voice, that it is fine like this. We have to keep it like this. Don’t worry about it.
”I learned that you can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well do what you love” – Jim Carrey
And so be it. I wish you all a wonderful day and I’ll see you next time!
Oh, and, I would really recommend that you watch the movie Man on the Moon or the documentary Andy & Jim. You can order the movie by clicking the banner below. The documentary is available on Netflix. Have fun watching them!