After watching Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, I kept asking myself how far Jim Carrey’s method acting truly went during the filming of Man on the Moon. While the cameras are rolling its clear that he was fully committed to this act, as he said it was a Jekyll and Hyde moment for him. I wonder how this act changed when there were no cameras on him and it was explicitly a moment outside of any film. The documentary informs us that for the most part when Carrey adopted the role he was fully engulfed in the character for hours, sometimes entire days. Early on the film, my initial thoughts drifted to what other members of the crew thought about Carrey’s performance. How many of them found his performance funny and how many were unable to voice discomfort due to the immense pressure of telling Jim Carrey to do something other than act. The film glosses over this question unless its Jerry Lawler not reacting positively to Carrey’s teasing. For the most part, it seems as if the majority of the cast and crew went along with whatever the act asked of them. But there is one moment that stuck out for me towards the end of the documentary.
When Jim Carrey plays Andy Kaufman and announces that he has cancer, there is one actor who immediately objects to this act. Danny Devito objects to Carrey’s performance and makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with this part of the joke and it’s clear through his actions that he feels uncomfortable with the situation. This moment raises the question that lies at the core of this documentary. At what point does a harmless joke become something much worse? What I believe it comes down to is the responsibility of the actor to know the audience. Not every joke is going to be perfect and even the best jokes will be frowned upon by someone. That doesn’t make this a terrible film nor does it make Carrey a horrible person for going too far on occasion. The film goes to great lengths to show how he’s grown as a person since he played this role and there’s definitely a sense of maturity in the way that he handles the interview. It’s something to consider when creating any form of art that seems obvious but is often brushed over. When we experiment and try new things in art we shouldn’t expect it to be perfect or comfortable for us, and when things fail we should take responsibility for our failure and make sure that we grow as whatever kind of artist we strive to be. So that when we do cross the line we can step back, take responsibility for our actions, and ensure that we do better next time.