Splitsider

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Talking with Crystal (the Monkey) about 'Animal Practice', Her Career, And Much, Much More

With the new TV season just getting under way, we are bombarded with an array of new potential stars of all sizes. The absolute smallest of these stars is Crystal. Historians very often say that a great monkey actor comes only once in a generation and, at this point, it is abundently clear that Crystal is the monkey of our time. Born in 1994, Crystal has been active in Hollywood since the tender age of 3 (or about 6, in human years). Whether it's in Dr. Dolittle, Night at the Museum, Hangover II, Community, or anything else she's been in, she brings a certain humanity – or I guess monkeyity – to every role. Next Wednesday, Animal Hospital is set to debut on NBC and undoubtedly Crystal's career will begin its ascent through the stratosphere. I was lucky to speak with the star to be, on the dawn of her pop culture dominance.

Crystal. It's a pleasure to meet you. How has the press tour been going?

Squeak squeak squeak squeak. Squeak squeak.

Great. So, you started working when you were very young. You were three when you played the part of Baby Monkey in George of the Jungle. How did you avoid the pitfalls so commonly associated with child actors?

Squeak squeak. [pauses for a few seconds] Squeak squeak squeak.

Your next part was in Dr. Dolittle, in which you played the character of Drunk Monkey. Did you find it difficult playing a character with substance abuse issues? 

Squeak squeak squeak squeak.

Dr. Dolittle also was your first film to eventually become a sequel. Sequels show up a lot throughout your career. How have you been able to keep the parts fresh? 

Squeak squeak squeak squeak. [she jumps up and down for about 20 seconds]

Should I move on?

Squeeeeeeeeak.

Ok, so one of those sequels was Night at the Museum. That had to huge for you, right? It was your first role with a proper name and your character was a catalyst for much of the action. What has that franchise meant to you?

Squeak squeak squeeeeeeeeeeeeak squeak.

Since this is Splitsider, I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about Community.  Your character has appeared in three of the hands down best and most important episodes of that series. You first appear in "Contemporary American Poultry," the episode many credit as the start of what the show became. Then you also appeared in the legendary "Cooperative Calligraphy" and "Paradigms of Human Memory" episodes. What was it like to work with Dan Harmon to shape that character?

[she points to some nuts]

Are you saying it was nuts or he was nuts? 

[her handler feeds her some pistachios] Squeak squeak squeak squeak.

Community was also where you first worked with Ken Jeong, who you later famously worked with on the second Hangover film. Have you guys talked about maybe working on something for just the two of you? There is such a frenetic chemistry there.

[again, she jumps up and down for 20 seconds]

Gotcha, and was it through Community that you first got on NBC's and the Russo brothers' (producers of Animal Practice) radar?

Squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak; squeeeeeeeeeeak squeak squeak.

Tell me: Who is Dr. Rizzo?

Squeak. [40-second pause] Squeak.

Your character is so important to that show. Of course, you are used for comic relief but there is more to it. There is a moral centeredness about Dr. Rizzo. Have you ever thought of that character as a one-monkey Greek chorus?

Squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak; squeeeeeeeeeeak squeak squeak.

It was reported that you will be earning $12,000 an episode. That's a lot of bananas.

[Crystal begins to shriek very loudly and bang her chair] [her handler eventually gives her a piece of banana and advises me not mention bananas again]

Last question. Do you think your career has prepared you to be a star of the show, to be on all the posters and billboards? NBC has put a lot of stock in you to be the actress that's leading the way for a different type of NBC sitcom. How does that feel?

[she finishes her banana] Squeak squeak squeak squeak.

Actually, you know what…umm… I hate to do this and I know it's super unprofessional but I think we had a real connection here. I think we just get each other. Do you want to, like, hang out sometime. Crystal, I love you. Crystal! Tell me, Crystal, that you don't feel the same way? TELL ME!

Squeak.

 

Jesse David Fox is a writer, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. He'll never look at a banana the same.

  • Matt Visconage

    You are the Marc Maron of Monkey interviewers. Bravo sir. Bravo.

  • WadeWWilson87

    I just watched the premiere of Animal Practice on my Hopper last night, and I think that Crystal the monkey is the
    only thing that the show has going for it. A friend that I work with at DISH
    said that the show needs to have insanely good ratings tonight, in order for it
    not to be axed. Since my Hopper has so much memory, I’m going to go ahead and
    save Animal Practice for background
    noise later on. It’s great having a DVR that can hold the good and the bad.
    Cheers to at least the monkey landing the next show opportunity—a movie would
    be fine, too.