Do you remember Dexter – the monkey from Night at the Museum? Well, that’s Crystal, the monkey. And do you remember Dr.Rizzo from Animal Practice? That’s also Crystal, the monkey. And also the monkey from The Shaggy Dog, and the drug-dealing monkey from The Hangover Part II? Those roles are all played by Crystal too.
Crystal is not a very old monkey, but she is certainly a unique one. She is a Capuchin monkey, born in 1994 and lives in Los Angeles with her trainer, Tom Gunderson, and few other animals.
Her acting career began as a baby monkey in the 1997 film George of the Jungle. In 1996, Birds & Animals Unlimited, the largest furnisher of animals to Hollywood, sent one of its trainers, Tom Gunderson, to purchase a capuchin monkey in Florida. Three monkeys were offered, and one of them was the audacious two-and-half-year-old Crystal, whose canine teeth had begun showing. So, three employees received the three monkeys. Gunderson had let the other two employees select their monkeys first and ended up with the oldest, Crystal. He named her Crystal, a namesake to a country music singer Crystal Gayle. The magazine New York’s Benjamin Wallace wrote, “It was like she was born to perform.”
Wallace has also written that her Internet Movie Database page is “more hit-studded than most actors three times her age.” Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times called her “a veteran of movies and TV with an enviable IMDB credit list.” USA Today called Crystal “Hollywood’s Hottest Monkey” and the Los Angeles Times called her “the most powerful pet in Hollywood.”
Almost all the monkeys you have seen in movies since 1997 are Crystal. She is mostly known for her roles in the 2006 film Night at the Museum and its sequels where she plays troublesome monkey Dexter and also another character, Able, in the second movie. In the 2009 film, her character slapped Ben Stiller’s, while her trainer encouraged her with “Get him! Get him! Hit him harder! Hit him harder!” Stiller joked that “I really dislike the monkey. There’s no way to feel great about having a monkey slap your face on any level…And ever since he saw The Planet of the Apes she is changed…”
During filming, Crystal in an “unscripted moment” relieved herself on Robin Williams, who was playing Teddy Roosevelt. Williams said, “It combines the worst aspects of working with children and animals when you have an animal that looks like a child…Plus, what human can [defecate] on you in the middle of a scene and people would be like ‘Awww, great'”
Ken Jeong, Crystal’s fellow Hangover and Community co-star, praised her, saying, “She’s amazing. She’s not a monkey; she’s an actor. And quite possibly the best actor I’ve worked with.”
And of course, if anyone wonders there are a lot of concerns and accusations coming from PETA, but in meantime, Crystal has been listed in TV Guide Magazine’s annual highest paid stars list.