The Bizarre Way Jim Carrey Once Locked Danny DeVito in His Trailer on Set
When Jim Carrey started filming Man on the Moon, he was an A-list actor thanks to his previous movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. Later in the 1990s, he took a more serious role in The Truman Show, then followed it up with the cult classic Man on the Moon. The latter would become one of his most interesting roles to date.
In Man on the Moon, Carrey portrayed late entertainer Andy Kaufman. During filming, Carrey stayed in-character as Kaufman for four months, both on-screen and off. Off-screen, he’d get into all sorts of antics that Kaufman would have done, including a memorable “prank” when he locked co-star Danny DeVito in his trailer on set.
The making of ‘Man on the Moon’
Andy Kaufman died in 1984 at the age of 35, following a diagnosis of large-cell carcinoma, a type of aggressive lung cancer that then spread into his brain. 15 years later, Carrey would play him in Man on the Moon, a biographical comedic drama centered on Kaufman’s life, and following him through his death.
Always a quirky guy, Kaufman was a unique person who never fit into the standard mold for other comedians; instead of telling jokes with a punchline, he preferred to portray different “characters” on stage and play different hi-jinxes.
During filming, Carrey made the intense decision to stay in-character as Kaufman during his whole time filming, as well as while he wasn’t actually on-camera.
Part of Kaufman’s act included playing his different characters, such as Tony Clifton, a prankster who was never up to any good, and Latkas Gravas, a good-natured mechanic. Carrey also took to portraying these characters off-screen, making things all the more confusing for the rest of the cast and crew.
‘Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond’
Much of this was captured in behind-the-scenes footage that was then made into a Netflix documentary in 2017, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. In the documentary, Carrey is interviewed about his experience filming as Kaufman and he admits it took him a while to get back to just being Jim again afterward.
But why go through all of that? Simply put, Carrey wanted to pay tribute to Kaufman in a way that really made his legacy shine.
Whether it was a conscious decision or not, or if Carrey just one day began being Kaufman 24/7, remains unknown. Regardless, it seems Carrey got the results he was looking for.
What did he get up to on set?
With the filming for Man on the Moon having turned into a performance art piece on its own, there are plenty of memorable stories that have come out of that time.
One such story involves Carrey’s co-star, Danny DeVito, getting stuck on the receiving end of a prank by “Tony.” Carrey got ahold of the keys to DeVito’s trailer on-set, locked him in, then drove a car up to the door of the trailer so it couldn’t be opened. He then threw the keys to the car into the Los Angeles River.
This resulted in DeVito obviously being trapped in his trailer, while the crew had to get ahold of a tow truck to move the car out of the way, and much filming time was lost. Of course, Carrey/Kaufman/Tony thought the whole situation was hilarious!
While this was certainly a memorable role for Carrey, he has yet to do another character-acting experience like what he did to portray Kaufman. His performance as Kaufman earned Carrey a Golden Globe, right after earning one for The Truman Show.