The movie business has become monkey business, literally, and Hollywood’s latest breakout star is a 17-year-old Capuchin named Crystal.
Although her stint opposite The Wolfpack in "Hangover Part 2" is Crystal’s major star turn, she’s an old pro who’s been developing her craft with trainer Tom Gunderson through 20 feature films and various TV appearances, including “Night at the Museum,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “George of the Jungle” and the “Dr. Doolittle” movies.
“Crystal turned out to be just kind of this miracle monkey,” says her admiring co-star Bradley Cooper. “She’s incredible – she can do anything! When we were talking about it, [director] Todd Phillips was saying there’s going to be this drug-dealing mule who’s a monkey and he’s going to smoke. I was like ‘How the hell are you going to pull this off?’ One of my favorite scenes in the movie is Crystal’s montage with Curtis Mayfield music – it’s just one of the greatest scenes in the movie.
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“My favorite part about Crystal,” adds Ed Helms, “is that her trainer Tom, who’s a sweet guy, but whenever he needed Crystal to do something, he would literally just say, 'Crystal, jump on the table. Jump on the table, jump on the table, jump on the table.' And then Crystal would do it. So I don’t know if Crystal actually understands English or she’s just able to read the energy based on what he’s saying. I just found it so hilarious that her trainer would just repeat an English command over and over and over again until Crystal eventually did what she needed to do.”
“Crystal is better than all of us,” agrees Ken Jeong, who also recently shared scenes with her in his series “Community.” “She's not a monkey. She's like some divine being that just happens to be a monkey. She can do anything. And everyone is surprised at what outrageous things that Crystal can do."
“She's so sweet,” adds Jeong. “I brought my kids on set, my twin daughters who are three years old, and Crystal is hugging them and kissing them. She's just a miracle. I've worked with some other animals before and they're simply not as good. She works for a reason. She's quite amazing. There's nothing that she can't do. We kind of all aspire to be Crystal in terms of ability.”
“The only downside to Crystal is she has very long claws,” admits Cooper. “You don’t want to get Crystal around an elephant. There was one scene where we were walking down the street, there was an elephant and she sort of destroyed my shoulder.”
Now on her way to becoming a household name, Crystal’s already wrapped two more major films: writer/director Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” and the Kevin James comedy “Zoopkeeper,” in which she re-teams yet again with Jeong. “Crystal's the main monkey in the movie, voiced by Adam Sandler,” he reveals. “I'm doing my third project with Crystal already.”