By Agnieszka Flak
VENICE (Reuters) - Playing Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon" was a chance for Jim Carrey to reflect on his own identity and the impact the late cult comedian had on him, the actor said on Tuesday.
Carrey was at the Venice Film Festival to present "Jim & Andy: the Great Beyond - the story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman with a very special, contractually obligated mention of Tony Clifton", a documentary about the making of the 1999 biopic.
Director Chris Smith uses hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes footage to show how Carrey immersed himself in the roles of Andy Kaufman and Tony Clifton, the character of an obnoxious lounge singer created by the U.S. comedian.
The documentary, which is being screened in the out-of-competition section of the festival, contains footage interspersed with interviews with present-day Carrey, reflecting on what portraying Kaufman meant for him.
"He (Smith) made it about identity and ultimately that's the real lesson in the whole experience", Carrey told journalists, adding that playing Kaufman allowed him to put aside his own issues, which he then had to face when the movie was finished.
"We spend our lives running around looking for anchors," the 55-year-old Canadian actor said, referring to how people cling to nationalities and other labels to define themselves.
Carrey said his portrayal of private detective "Ace Ventura" was his own bid to "destroy Hollywood, not be a part of it ... to make fun of the leading man".
"Most of us are wearing (a mask) and when somebody’s authentic, it becomes very difficult for everyone else to wear a mask," he said at the Venice festival, which ends on Sept. 9.
Asked whether he would like to direct movies, Carrey said it would probably happen one day, although for now he enjoyed "the freedom of being an artist within a project that can eccentrically explore every avenue of a character".
"But I would like to direct at some point if I wasn’t acting in the film," he said.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; editing by Alexander Smith)