Kaufman, Carrey, and Bleed

There’s a remark at the end of Jim and Andy that immediately drew me back to the Bleed article. Jim Carrey spends much of the film talking about his effort to stay in-character throughout the entire filming of Man on the Moon, but when it gets to the section about REM’s music video for “The Great Beyond” he admits he feels bad that he wasn’t in it: “I just didn’t want to be Andy anymore… I just didn’t want to go back once I left Andy. And I tried to figure out what the hell I am again.” Carrey acknowledges the psychological impact of staying in character for so long was, claiming he had almost completely forgotten his own self in the aftermath. “Suddenly I was so unhappy, and I realized I was back in my problems.”

“And suddenly I thought to myself, You felt so good when you were being Andy ’cause you were free from yourself, you were on vacation from Jim Carrey.”

Carrey seems to have suffered from the Bleed form “Bleed out,” where the experience of playing Andy Kaufman for so long seems to have affected him as a person. Though he looks back on the experience positively, there is a strong implication that the whole process proved emotionally taxing. In the context of Bleed, it’s worth noting that Carrey doesn’t appear to have had any coping mechanisms as his choice to play Kaufman all the time was mostly a self-imposed decision. Crucially, despite the fact that he ostensibly was “Jim Carrey,” off-set, it’s clear in the documentary that he never really completely decoupled from the Andy Kaufman character until after the film wrapped, suggesting he didn’t have a formal de-roleing process in place while they were shoot.

Perhaps this speaks to what others have touched upon: how Carrey’s choice to stay in character all the time may have been for his benefit but also caused problems for others, such as Milos Forman and Jerry Lawler. By the looks of it, it also caused problems for Carrey, who threw himself so far into the role without having a support system to climb back out. This is where RPG strategies like those mentioned in Bleed would have been very helpful for Carrey’s method-acting: the ability to psychologically decouple from these characters. It’s methods that I reckon all method-actors could benefit from.

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