TIFF 17: Jim Carrey talks wanting to be a SUNshine Boy and his 'existential journey' in 'Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond'
You can take Jim Carrey out of Toronto but you can’t take T.O. out of the Hollywood star.
After I introduced myself as a Toronto Sun reporter on the red carpet for the TIFF documentary, Jim & Andy: the Great Beyond on Monday afternoon at the Winter Garden Theatre, the Newmarket, Ont.-born Carrey asked hopefully: “Hi Jane. Can I be the boy - the SUNshine Boy?”
I responded: “Let’s do it.”
Sadly, there was no time.
CARREY DOESN’T EXIST: Jim Carrey says revisiting his Golden Globe-winning deep immersion into the character of fellow comic Andy Kaufman for the 1999 Milos Forman film, Man On The Moon, in the new TIFF documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, was revelatory.
“I think it was an existential journey,” said Carrey. “By playing those characters of Andy and [his obnoxious lounge singer alter-ego] Tony (Clifton) so completely I realized that at the end of it when I was trying to get back to Jim and it wasn’t so easy, it was like, ‘Oh, wow, if I can lose Jim so completely, who’s Jim?’ And a kind of a separation happened and it’s been going in that direction ever since. More of a unity consciousness rather than individuality. I don’t feel so much like an individual anymore. At the end of it you go, ‘Jim Carrey’s a character too. He’s actually been playing me.' Once that realization happens, there’s kind of a rack focus, Steven Spielberg-style, you just go, ‘OK, I’m not at stake here, there is no me.’ I spent my whole life looking for anchors, for the perfect phrase, or the perfect thing to add to myself, and the fact is, there’s no boat to anchor. And once you know that, all of this stuff is OK.”
The doc, directed by Chris Smith, came about because of 100 hours worth of unseen footage of Carrey working on becoming Kaufman, who died in 1984.
“So for four months he stayed in character,” said Smith, who was approached with the material by producer Spike Jonze who knew about it from Carrey.
“Just being able to talk to Jim [for a couple of days] about not only that experience but the effect that experience had on his life going forward.”
Smith says Carrey himself was a revelation.
“I think a lot of people have this impression of him being this very over-the-top gregarious comedian. I think that doing the movie you see a very gracious, thoughtful, caring generous person that has so much to offer that I think’s a side of him that most people don’t either see or associate with him. And that was a real pleasure just to get to know him as a person outside of a persona.”
In front of the Winter Garden Theatre crowd Carrey joked: “It’s wonderful to be back in Canada amongst the gentility of spirit that is awarded to people who have health care.”
He added more seriously: This experience was otherwordly because Andy Kaufman was otherwordly.”