An Exclusive Interview With Crystal, the Hangover Part II Monkey
Summer movies rarely celebrate individual actors as much as they do big budgets, expensive explosions and popcorn plots. As such, it takes an especially powerful performance for an actor to stand out at the multiplex during the warmer months. Thanks to a front-and-center role in The Hangover Part II's marketing campaign, however, one unknown is already getting that rare summer superstar treatment: Crystal, the Capuchin monkey.
With a month left before the Hangover Part II's Memorial Day premiere, Crystal phoned Movieline from her modest Hollywood apartment to gamely discuss the pressure of starring in the sequel to the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, those ugly cigarette rumors and her controversial sex scene with Zach Galifianakis.
When you took this role, did you have any idea that you would be featured so prominently in the marketing campaign? Your character wasn't even in The Hangover but Warner Bros. gave you your own promotional poster for the sequel. That seems unheard of.
Isn't that funny? I had no idea. My agent told me that it would be a small cameo similar to what Mike Tyson's tiger had done in the original. I wasn't sure what that meant though because -- well, I don't know if I should talk about this.
You weren't a fan of Mike Tyson's tiger?
No, no. I thought he did a great job but at the time, when I auditioned, I hadn't seen The Hangover. Sorry, Todd!
I assume you ran out and rented it immediately after being cast though?
Immediately! And I loved it. Honestly though, it's probably for the best that I didn't see it before auditioning. I would have been too nervous.
After seeing the film, who were you most excited to work with?
Ed [Helms]. I've been watching him on The Office ever since he joined the cast, and I had always thought that he was funny -- but in a "he's so preppy and square" kind of way. In The Hangover though, he was just deranged funny. I was really impressed by his range.
And who were you least excited to work with?
[Laughs] Mike Tyson's tiger and Zach. I can say Zach though without feeling bad because we get along so great now. We text all the time. I just didn't know what to expect from him. You see him playing all of these weird, angry, withdrawn characters and --
How is he in real life?
[Pause] Well, weird and a little withdrawn but deep down he is just a sweetheart.
You two shared a controversial scene that the MPAA complained about in the theatrical trailer in which you simulated oral sex on a bus passenger.
Well, it was on a strategically-placed water bottle, but right.
How was it shooting that scene?
That was my first sex scene so I was really nervous. But Zach and I talked a lot about it beforehand -- our motivations, what we were thinking. He made sure that I felt totally comfortable and that the atmosphere was light on set. I couldn't imagine a better co-star that day, really.
It looks like you are the only female in the Wolfpack this time around. Was that nerve-racking?
Not at all. My issue wasn't a matter of whether or not I was male. It was whether or not I was funny. For the record, I don't think those two things are related at all. I know a lot of hilarious females but I just never considered myself one of them. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up on set, you know, if we improv-ed or anything.
You're being modest. It looks like you have some hilarious scenes, at least in the trailer.
That's all the script though and the wardrobe department. I didn't come up with the idea to wear, you know, a Rolling Stones denim vest and khaki shorts. Or to scare Ed's character by jumping on his back in that seedy motel. That's what's funny. It's not like I'm killing any scenes with a great one-liner, like Ed, Zach and Brad were doing constantly.
Do you think movie audiences are ready for a talking live action monkey?
Honestly, no. Not unless Adam Sandler is voicing it. [Editor's note: Sandler voices the Capuchin monkey in this summer's Zookeeper starring Kevin James.] But that's fine. I'm not going to read into it too much and make it some big existential issue. I just need to pay the bills, you know?
Stu and the gang look like they party pretty hard in Bangkok. Are you worried that audiences are going to see Hangover Part II and try to duplicate your cast's dangerous hijinks?
Not at all. I mean, first, this is a summer comedy. You think people are going to see Bridesmaids and want to eat bad Mexican food before a dress fitting? That's not a great example but no. <span
class="pullquote right">If audiences do take anything from this movie, I hope it's that monkeys are the ultimate party animal. You should pullquote that right there.
More of a party animal than Mike Tyson's tigers?
I guess that'll be for the audiences to decide. I don't want to name drop, but already, I've been invited to a few high profile parties and the movie hasn't even been released yet. I think it's because of the poster.
Two weeks ago, there were reports that you had become addicted to cigarettes during production.
Todd Phillips quickly clarified that he had been joking with press, but I'm curious, how did you deal with the attention when that story first broke?
Listen, I've been in this business long enough to know that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Unless that publicity worries your family back in Topeka enough for them to try to get you on that week's A&E Intervention. I can deal with tabloid rumors but I feel bad for my folks. They didn't ask to be put in this spotlight.
So the media isn't going to see a sex tape from you anytime soon?
Ha! Never. That is so classless, that trend. I mean, I'm a monkey and I'm above that. Granted, we don't really have video equipment in our bedrooms, zoo exhibits or whatever but in my opinion, people like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton shouldn't either.
So just to clarify, you are not addicted to cigarettes.
I am not and have never been addicted to cigarettes. Now, Cheers re-runs, that's a different story.
Aside from your film, what other movies are you looking forward to seeing this summer?
Definitely Bridesmaids. And James Franco's Planet of Apes movie. I think that'll be a hoot. I don't care what they say about his performance at the Oscars, I still love him.
What's next for you?
I just finished work on Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon, Scarlett Johannson and Elle Fanning. That was a lot of fun. I'm in discussions for a few things now that I can't really talk about. You know, it's hard to find a good animal role in Hollywood, especially now that they can just digitize anything.
What is your dream role?
Haymitch in The Hunger Games. I'm a huge fan of the books. I know Haymitch is supposed to be a male and human but that would be the ultimate part for me. Can you imagine an embittered alcoholic monkey mentoring Katniss and Peeta at the Games?
I'd love to see that. Thank you so much for your time, Crystal. I'm anxious to see what the future holds for you. I just have one last question.
Thanks! Sure, anything.
Did you get to keep the denim vest from the shoot?
I knew that's what you were going to ask! All I'm going to say is "no comment."