5 Things to Know About Crystal the Hangover Monkey
1. In real life, she doesn't smoke.
Director Todd Phillips jokingly said that after training Crystal to play a chain-smoking drug mule, he had "PETA after me because the monkey's become addicted to cigarettes." Phillips later had to clarify that he had been joking. Crystal's trainer, Thomas Gunderson, worked with his 17-year-old monkey so that she could hold a hollow prop that looked like a cigarette (the smoke effects were added later through CGI). She also learned how to use several different kinds of lighters (that didn't have real flames).
2. She doesn't have any other deviant behaviors, either.
"Most monkeys are liars, Crystal is not." Gunderson says. "She's not a good liar. She's very honest." Other than enjoying bonding time with humans, Crystal isn't one to mess around. "She takes her work very seriously."
3. She was pretty popular on the Hangover set.
While actors Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong had worked with Crystal on other projects, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis hadn't, and they started out "a little – and this is putting it very mildly – apprehensive," Gunderson says. "Just out of respect for her being a wild monkey." Eventually, Crystal became a member of the "Wolf Pack," and people would take turns petting her, feeding her, and the group would often sit and have lunch together.
4. She's not a diva.
While Crystal may look like one on the red carpet, this is one down-to-earth capuchin. "She doesn't understand all this stuff," Gunderson says. "When we were on the red carpet, there was a lot of noise, a lot of lights, a lot to keep her stimulated. Most monkeys would probably be stressed out and not want to be there. She stands right out there and smiles and waves."
5. She's named after a country singer.
Soon after Gunderson was assigned to train his new monkey about 15 years ago, he was sitting in his car when a song by the country singer Crystal Gayle came on the radio. Gunderson says, "A lot of people will tell me, 'Oh, it fits because it sounds like a stripper!'"