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Film

Watch Jim Carrey’s stunning audition tape for ‘Man on the Moon’

Jim Carrey received endless praise for his role as performance artist Andy Kaufman in the 1999 comedy-drama Man on the Moon, directed by Miloš Forman. The film chronicles the rise of Kaufman, who rose to fame in the early 1970s after performing in small comedy clubs. His atypical performance style grabbed the attention of talent agent George Shapiro, who signed the funny man, and landed him a role in the sitcom Taxi. Man on the Moon depicts the events that, for many, made Kaufman a comedic hero, tracing his stints on shows such as SNL and Fridays.

Kaufman has been described as an “anti-comedian”, favouring impersonation and audience trickery rather than telling jokes. He once referred to himself as more of a “song and dance man” stating that “I am not a comic, I have never told a joke”. Instead, Kaufman would portray certain characters that he created, such as Foreign Man, a strong-accented yet shy and awkward man that claimed to be from the fictional island of Caspiar.

Playing the Mighty Mouse theme song, Foreign Man would stand silently until the lines “here I come to save the day” were sung, to which he would lip-sync enthusiastically. After convincing the audience that he was just an odd man with little skill for comedy, he would turn round, slick back his hair, and take off his jacket in order to perfectly impersonate Elvis Presley, much to the audience’s enjoyment.

Kaufman liked to play trickery on his audiences, such as making them believe he was feuding with wrestler Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, or bringing his grandmother to watch him perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall, revealing at the end of the show that the elderly woman was, in fact, Robin Williams. Furthermore, the entertainer also ended the performance by inviting the audience to join him for milk and cookies, hiring 24 buses to take them with him.

In Man on the Moon, Jim Carrey plays the role shockingly well, nailing Kaufman’s idiosyncrasies flawlessly. Since Kaufman passed away at just 35 years old in 1984, Carrey could not consult the star for advice on mastering the role. Yet Carrey recreates some of Kaufman’s most famous acts, such as the Foreign Man gag with frightening accuracy.

Carrey’s dedication to the role was extreme, to say the least. He demanded to be called Andy on set and continued the persona when the cameras stopped rolling. If Carrey was shooting a scene as Kaufman’s obnoxious lounge-star character Tony Clifton, he was to be referred to as just that. The 2017 documentary Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond compiles behind-the-scenes footage of Carrey’s method acting, shot by Kaufman’s former girlfriend, Lynne Margulies, (played by Courtney Love in Man on the Moon) alongside contemporary interviews with Carrey.

You can also find Jim Carrey’s audition tape for Man on the Moon on YouTube, which Carrey made as soon as he heard about a Kaufman biopic being made. He recreates the Foreign Man bit, as well as some of Kaufman’s wrestling interviews, bringing plenty of passion to the role, which he would carry into his real performance in the movie. From erratically dancing to goofily impersonating a Tennessee accent, Carrey’s audition tape is an enthusiastic five-minute attempt at landing the role that became one of the actor’s most highly praised performances.

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