In addition to writing, directing, producing and starring in his films, Jerry Lewis is credited with creating the "video assist," and has always been very hands on when it comes to the production side of the business, with Method to the Madness being no exception. "There were points where I'd be shooting him and he'd say to get a shot from a different location," producer-director Gregg Barson recalls. ""I thought, 'Jerry Lewis is helping me direct and giving me pointers."
Jerry Lewis in 1960's Visit to a Small Planet, based on the play by Gore Vidal. The comic played Kreton, an alien who lands his UFO in the yard of a TV journalist who doesn't believe in other lifeforms. Comedy ensues.
Three and a half years in the making, Encore's Lewis documentary Method to the Madness presents a complete picture of the funnyman, with director-producer Gregg Barson noting that Lewis was the same both on- and off-camera. "You could tell he was enjoying the process; he's the same when the camera is on and off and there aren't many people like that," he says.
In addition to writing and producing his films, Lewis directed scores of the films in which he starred, including The Ladies Man and The Bellboy, among countless others.
On the set, Method to the Madness producer-director Gregg Barson says Lewis would typically refer to his characters as "The Kid" or "The Idiot" but will leave a legacy that goes far beyond the iconic on-screen personas. "He wasn't just that kid or the idiot, he was an inventor and a real director who broke ground and was a creative genius," he says. "For him, I think that word is acceptable."