The Jim Carrey-starring documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, was released on Netflix on November 17, 2017, and it has introduced viewers to the realm of Carrey’s mind. The documentary’s press, including some bizarre Jim Carrey interviews, has awakened the world to the possibility that the man is an unstable method actress. The documentary, titled Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond-Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton, includes behind-the-scenes tales and footage from the making of 1999’s Man on the Moon, as well as more recent interviews with Carrey.

The footage in Jim & Andy is particularly intriguing, enabling viewers to see Jim Carrey genuinely transform into his idol, Saturday Night Live performer Andy Kaufman, who died from lung cancer in 1984. While other method actors may genuinely “become” the characters they play, Carrey becomes so immersed in the role of Kaufman that he may have forgotten about “Jim.”

Producers Didn’t Want To Release The Footage, Fearing Audiences Would Reject Carrey

The footage that makes up the bulk of Jim & Andy is taken from behind the scenes of the making of Man on the Moon, which was released in 1999. There’s a good reason that it took so long for the footage to reach the public eye. Initially, producers of Man on the Moon didn’t want anyone to see what Jim Carrey was really like during filming, fearing that audiences would think he was either unhinged or unpleasant. In the documentary, Carrey himself suggests Universal Pictures suppressed the footage “so that people wouldn’t think Jim is an a**hole.” Nearly 20 years of Jim Carrey being in the public spotlight have since passed, however, and Carrey is largely standing to the side of it.


Jim Carrey Refused To Break Character And Demanded Everyone Call Him Andy

The reason there’s so much footage of Jim Carrey in character as Andy Kaufman while filming Man on the Moon is quite simple: Carrey was always in character. While on set, and often while off it, Carrey refused to break character and even demanded that others refer to him exclusively as Andy. While he was acting, Carrey would refer to “Jim Carrey” as if he were an entirely different person altogether, often commenting on how infrequently “Jim” came to work. This was undoubtedly a weird thing for the other people on set to get used to, and it was even tougher for them to not get sick of it immediately.


He Offered Plenty Of Analysis Of Jim Carrey While In Character As Kaufman

Perhaps the most interesting footage in Jim & Andy come from the moments when Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman decides to share his opinions about Jim Carrey. Rather than making lighthearted jokes about himself, Kaufman-Carrey dispenses harsh truths about his “alter ego,” calling out his own need for constant approval. At one point, Kaufman-Carrey talks about the real pain hiding behind Jim Carrey’s constant smile, making for a heartbreaking moment of self-analysis masquerading as criticism of another person altogether.


Carrey Also “Became” Kaufman’s Alter Ego, Tony Clifton

It wasn’t enough for Jim Carrey to “become” Andy Kaufman while filming Man on the Moon. He also felt the need to become Tony Clifton, Kaufman’s most famous alter ego. The old gag used to be that Kaufman would consistently deny that he and the boorish and crude Clifton were the same person, and Kaufman even went as far as to have other people masquerade as Clifton to keep the mystery alive. However, there would be no masquerading where Jim Carrey was concerned. Carrey transformed himself into Clifton just as seriously as he transformed himself into Kaufman.


People On Set Feared Tony Because Of His Antics

Tony Clifton could be unpleasant for a nonexistent human being, according to those on set. Unlike the often soft-spoken Andy Kaufman, his alter ego was rude, crude, and aggressive, often shouting his boorish opinions at the top of his lungs. This led to people on the set of Man on the Moon coming to actually fear the version of “Tony” who showed up for filming. Jim Carrey made his coworkers legitimately uncomfortable with how earnestly he portrayed Clifton, leading several people to exclaim “No, we don’t want Tony to come back!” when Carrey threatened to slip back into the character.


Carrey Believed That Andy Kaufman Had Possessed Him

Jim Carrey received plenty of accolades for his performance in Man on the Moon, but according to him, he didn’t deserve it. Shortly after landing the role, Carrey was sitting on a beach wondering where Andy Kaufman would be if he were still around, and he claims that a pod of dolphins suddenly surfaced as if on command. At that point, Carrey says he communicated “telepathically” with Kaufman, who tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sit down, I’ll be doing my movie.” In Carrey’s mind, he wasn’t acting at all, he was simply possessed by Andy Kaufman.


Carrey Instigated Several Fights With Former Pro Wrestler Jerry Lawler On Set

The real Andy Kaufman had both a professional relationship and a personal friendship with wrestler Jerry Lawler, and the two often teamed up for publicity stunts. Unfortunately for Lawler, Carrey was only aware of the duo’s public “spats,” and so he decided to torment and antagonize Lawler nonstop whenever the wrestler was on set. As Kaufman, Carrey would harass and insult Lawler, attempting to instigate fights, and at one point even spat in his face. Lawler was legitimately annoyed at this behavior, suggesting that the real Kaufman had treated him with much greater respect, and real tension between Carrey and Lawler ensued.


He Launched An Assault On The Offices Of Amblin Entertainment In Character

Jim Carrey’s antics couldn’t be contained to the set of Man on the Moon. One moment that was captured on film for Jim & Andy was a veritable assault on Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment offices. In character as Tony Clifton, Carrey burst into Spielberg’s office demanding to see “the real shark,” an apparent reference to Jaws. Spielberg didn’t happen to be there at the time, but that didn’t stop Carrey from screaming at a bunch of Amblin employees about “phony sharks.”


Carrey Pulled Off A Classic Kaufman Prank At The Playboy Mansion

For the entire period of filming, Jim Carrey was Andy Kaufman for all intents and purposes, and of course, Carrey couldn’t resist the urge of pulling some Kaufman-esque pranks. After being invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion, Carrey told Hugh Hefner that he’d be showing up in character as Tony Clifton. Carrey got Bob Zmuda, an old friend of Kaufman’s who had portrayed Clifton on a number of occasions, to attend the party for him. After Zmuda had spent a few hours carousing with Hefner and his bunnies, Carrey showed up at the Mansion himself, and, in his own words, Hefner “completely freaked out and there was instant chaos.”


Unfortunately, Jim Picked Up A Number Of Andy’s Vices

Being Andy Kaufman wasn’t exactly easy on the body, as years of bad habits eventually contributed to the legendary comedian’s early death at age 35 from lung cancer. This didn’t scare Jim Carrey away from picking up some of these vices while he was “being” Kaufman, however. Carrey picked up a serious drinking habit during the filming of Man on the Moon, and was even drunk on set at times. He also started puffing cigs enough to develop a habit, despite never having done so before. Carrey is now sober.



His Fights With His On-Screen Father Made Crew Members Cry

Carrey’s dedication to staying in character ended up proving highly infectious. Carrey’s on-screen father, Gerry Becker, had a number of in-character arguments with his “son” during filming, including a particularly heated exchange in a makeup trailer that was captured for Jim & Andy. At the culmination of their fight, a makeup artist can be seen crying, saying that the argument reminded her of her own father. To anyone watching without context, there’s no indication that Carrey or Becker are acting or pretending in any fashion.


Director Milos Forman Was Irritated By Andy And Tony’s Antics

The man who paid the heaviest price for Jim Carrey’s dedication to method acting, aside from Carrey himself, could have been director Milos Forman, who had the task of corralling Carrey’s multiple personalities. A telling scene from Jim & Andy features the tale of a phone call in which Forman asked to speak to “Jim” so he could complain about “Andy and Tony.”

Carrey offered to “fire” the duo, stating that he could probably pull off an impression of them just fine, and that their “presence” wasn’t necessary for the film. Forman insisted that he didn’t want Andy and Tony to leave quite yet, but noted that it was nice to speak to Jim again, if only for a little while.

Jim Carrey Spent Time With Andy’s Family, So They Could Gain Closure

Plenty of the people working on Man on the Moon were personal friends of the real Andy Kaufman, and it was a bizarre experience for them to interact with a man who so perfectly portrayed their late friend. However, the weirdest moments undoubtedly came when Kaufman’s family visited the set and interacted with Carrey, who never broke character. Acting like a family’s son could have been strange for those affected, but the interactions seemed truly genuine, and several family members seemed to get a sense of closure from talking to “Andy” again.



Carrey Met With Kaufman’s Love Child So She Could Finally “Meet” Her Father

At some point in his life, Andy Kaufman fathered a daughter who never had the chance to meet him while he was alive. However, upon hearing about Jim Carrey’s performance, she tracked him down on set so that she could finally “meet” her father. Carrey sat down with the woman for more than an hour, in character as Kaufman, giving her a truly once-in-a-lifetime chance to interact with the parent she never knew. No footage of the meeting exists, but Carrey himself describes it as an incredibly touching and moving moment.



The Experience Changed Jim Carrey Forever

Jim Carrey allegedly exited the production of Man on the Moon as a completely different person. Having so perfectly slipped into the mind of another human being caused Carrey to question his own being. Carrey claimed that he forgot what it was like to be “Jim” after being Andy for so long, leading him to wonder if personal identity truly “existed” at all. This nihilistic view on life may seem strange to some, but Carrey describes it as freeing.

In an interview, Carrey said, “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 f*cking relief.”

After It Was Over, Jim Found It Hard To Get Rid Of Andy

Jim Carrey

After the marathon that was the filming of Man on the Moon, Jim Carrey was done “being” Andy Kaufman. He turned down an opportunity to portray Kaufman in the music video for REM’s “Man on the Moon,” a choice Carrey regrets, but felt was necessary at the time. However, Kaufman wasn’t quite done with Carrey. While filming his next movie, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Carrey found himself slipping back into the role of Kaufman unexpectedly. Grinch director Ron Howard fielded a two-hour phone call with Carrey as Kaufman, wanting to give him some production notes from beyond the grave.