Pounding the pavement of Bay Ridge in hot pursuit of his own myth, Timothy Carey’s youth presaged John Travolta’s Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever). Carey was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 1929 to a tightly knit Italian-Irish Catholic family.
At age 15, Carey used his brother’s birth certificate to enlist in the Marines. After an unsuccessful tryout for pitcher for the Boston Braves “B” team, Carey became a member of Bay Ridge’s Iron Masters Club, where he devoted much of his free time to weight lifting. Carey’s interest in body building carried over to his acting career, where he was often used for his physicality. His large, deft frame would spider across the screen and carry a role with little dialogue.
Carey expressed his acting “technique” plainly: “If you wanna be a good actor, go to the zoo and watch the rhino – look at the way he moves. Watch the weasel, every part involves a new body pattern.” This focus on the representational ran contrary to the internalized method acting of his peers.
Although Carey is often characterized as a Method actor (particularly due to his later association with John Cassavetes), he was, in fact, more likely to throw away the book, appropriate a part, and infuse it with energy.
– Alex de Laszlo, “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Timothy Carey”, Uno Mas magazine, 1996