What’s Goin’ On

Channeling Andy Kaufman

In Netflix doc, Jim Carrey claims it was no act


Life imitates art imitating life in "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond," a new Netflix documentary about Jim Carrey's transformation into comedian Andy Kaufman during the making of the 1999 biopic "Man on the Moon."

The film, directed by Chris Smith, draws on hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes footage that shows Carrey's refusal to break character on the set. Director Milos Forman and the cast and crew of "Man on the Moon" were amused and alarmed by the star's behavior. But Carrey insists his "crazy melodrama" wasn't an act. He wasn't obsessed, he was possessed by the spirit of the quirky comedian, who died of cancer in 1984 at 35.

"When I heard I had the part I was looking at the ocean and that's the moment when Andy came back to make his movie," Carrey claims. "What happened after that was out of my control."

The end result was Carrey channeling Kaufman throughout the entire shoot. "Though they operate mostly on different registers," observes Ian Crouch of the New Yorker, "there is, in both performers, just beneath the surface, a palpable rage, an almost cruel compulsiveness that makes you wince as much as laugh."

That was Kaufman's bread and butter—and Carrey's throughout both "Man on the Moon" and, now, "The Great Beyond."

Photo: Netflix