The fine line between „Method acting“ and being obnoxious asshole
If you saw the first trailer for the upcoming Netflix documentary Jim & Andy The Great Beyond, you’ve probably were reminded of couple of things. How very missed is the talent and presence of Andy Kaufman in comedy (even 34 years after his untimely death), how is good Milos Forman’s Man On The Moon was in honoring that talent, and how brilliant of an actor Jim Carrey was. I’d say he still is but I’m not so sure of the latter to be honest.
But while the documentary about the production of the Andy Kaufman’s 1999 biopic, Man Of The Moon arrives on Netflix next month (November 17th to be precise), let’s look for a minute on the first trailer about it. The documentary will obviously be narrated (in the first person) by the very bearded Carrey himself while he’s facing in the camera and speaking to us – the audience. The movie will feature behind the scenes/archive footage from most of the cats that made Man On The Moon. Deni DeVito, Judd Hirsh and the director Milos Forman, although the presence of Courtney Love is still in question. And while I look and marvel at the trailer with much anticipation (mostly because I think this movie is probably in the top 3 films of Jim Carrey’s career) I cannot help but feel sorry for the crew back in the late 90’s when this movie was made. Let me explain.
It’s no secret that Kaufman was Carrey’s comedic idol growing up, and when he got the role in the biopic was in the state of shock and disbelief… but I’m more bothered about several aspects of the production. Jim’s decision to stay in the character the whole time during production (or should I say several characters) and the subsequent hardship the entire crew experienced because of it. You see, I’m not opposed to Method acting. Quite frankly I think in this day and age it’s a dying art form and very few actors use it as a method in prepping for the role. Back in the days there was much higher regard and demand for that particular acting, but now it’s reduced to rare delicacy reserved just for the finest in the film industry. In the trailer for Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, the Canadian actor explains that because Andy stayed in the character the whole time, he had to do it to act in such manner even off camera… But granted… not having seen the documentary film yet (I look forward in seeing it next month) I can’t help but wonder… Is there a fine line between being a Method actor and being an obnoxious asshole?
For the benefit of a doubt, and from the trailer for Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond I’m going to go on a limb and say that Jim was both. A method actor and an obnoxious asshole who pissed every single one around him, and especially Milos Forman. You can even see Forman yelling and Carrey to stop fooling around. The Academy Award director sadly made just one more movie after that (as a director) and if you go to the IMDB, you’ll notice stories and stories about Carrey’s behavior on set. Most famous and notable is that from Jerry Lawler.
During filming, it was widely reported that a fight ensued between Jerry Lawler and Jim Carrey. Yup a fight. It was later explained that the whole story was fabricated to promote the movie, but Lawler has since revealed that the story was true. Yeah! That’s right! Carrey was so into his character that he constantly harassed Lawler off-camera. At one point, Carrey spit in Lawler’s face and Lawler grabbed Carrey’s neck. The altercation was broken up, and Carrey demanded that Lawler be fired, and that his scenes be re-shot. But Carrey later relented. According to Lawler, when they later filmed the scene in which he slapped Kaufman on Late Night with David Letterman (1982), he slapped Carrey much harder than he ever slapped Andy, as revenge.
In a podcast interview, years later Jerry Lawler confirmed that Jim Carrey was a handful, with which to work. This stemmed from Carrey’s insistence on staying in character constantly on and off-set, but several years later, Carrey sent Lawler some old 1980s records of hits that wrestlers recorded from his personal collection, saying it was a great pleasure working with him. I guess it’s was his way of saying „I’m sorry“ for being a DICK.
So… I can’t wait actually for November 17th and to finally find out if there is truly a fine line between „Method acting“ and douchery in the business and if there is …how fine line it really was for Jim… But in the meantime I’m going to watch Man on the Moon, one more time. It’s soooo god.