5 facts you didn't know about Crystal the monkey
Crystal plays Dr. George Coleman’s sidekick in the new NBC series Animal Practice but this isn’t her first rodeo—she’s starred in dozens of movies and television shows. An animal talent agency called Birds and Animals Unlimited owns the 18-year-old capuchin, but she lives with animal trainer Tom Gunderson and his family in Agua Dulce, Calif. Here are five more facts about Hollywood’s favorite monkey.
1. Despite rumors, she’s never smoked. Crystal plays a drug-dealing monkey in The Hangover Part 2 and while she holds a prop that looks like a cigarette, all of the smoke is computer-generated imaging. “I would never teach an animal to smoke,” Gunderson says. “Even the lit cigarette—it was never lit when she was holding it. That’s a testament to how good the visual effects team is.”
2. She used to be a serial killer. In a movie released in 2000 called Terror Tract, John Ritter played a real estate agent who terrifies newlywed house-hunters with tales from the past. One of the stories involves an evil monkey played by none other than Crystal.
3. Her trainer was almost a veterinarian. Gunderson worked at veterinary clinic for three years in high school and, after much consideration, turned down a scholarship to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “Instead of going to a nice, prestigious educational facility, I spent a tremendous amount of money at a vocational college in California,” he says. After two years of classes and picking up poop at Moorpark College, he worked his way to his dream job.
4. The fans love her. On an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Crystal played a helper monkey who turns on her owner. “She did some pretty naughty things and that’s one of their highest-rated episodes,” Gunderson says.
5. She’s been on The Tonight Show—twice. The first time, Tim Allen was also a guest on the show so he played off of his experiences with her in The Shaggy Dog. The second time, Jay Leno had just interviewed Joel McHale, so he played off of his experiences with her on Community. “They were even commenting that it was like the six degrees of Crystal the monkey,” Gunderson says. “They were like, ‘Everybody in this business has worked with her.’”