The documentary, directed by Chris Smith, is getting attention for its footage of Carrey’s method acting on the set of the original film, which portrayed the life and career of Kaufman, from his childhood on Long Island; to his role as Latka, on “Taxi”; to his conceptual, often surreal stage comedy.
By 1999, Carrey was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet; he’d worked as a standup comedian for more than fifteen years before surging to mass popularity, in 1994, with the gross-out comedy “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” which was followed by a string of hits in a similar vein.
For Carrey, Clifton was an especially natural fit: there has always been something bullying in Carrey’s performances, a bold physical and emotional insistence that is at once alluring and off-putting—a mixture of aggression and vulnerability that dares you to look away, or to judge and dismiss, but also makes you afraid to do it, or feel bad for wanting to.
Sporting a black leather jacket and a full, luxuriant achievement beard , Carrey insists that his role as Kaufman was less a matter of acting or impersonation than the result of a possession.
His combination of passivity and hostility on “Letterman,” his deadly earnest Elvis impersonation, his odd forays into pro wrestling all seemed designed to generate immense concern in those watching him perform.
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