Behind The Scenes: The Monkey From 'Speed Racer' Was A Jerk
Recently, a touching story about John C. Reilly befriending a monkey named Willie on the set of the movie Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story went viral on Twitter -- perhaps because we are all still heartbroken from finding out that Reilly unknowingly helped end Will Ferrell's friendship with his other buddy Adam McKay via their new HBO show, Showtime. We want to believe in the power of friendship, dammit.
As Reilly tells it, they were shooting a scene where he's supposed to yell at Willie when he noticed that his co-star, who seemingly hadn't quite grasped the concept of "acting" yet, was taking all that shouting rather personally. So Reilly hugged him, and as they repeated the take, Willie realized it was all just pretend and started getting into it. Here's the scene in question -- the words "all you care about is fruit and touching yourself" are even more moving once you know the story behind them.
But, sadly, that's not the end of this feel-good story. We did some digging and regret to inform you that Willie (also known by the alias "Willy") was kind of a dick. See, shortly after Walk Hard, Willie also starred in that secret Wachowski Sisters masterpiece known as Speed Racer, where he played a chimp called Chim Chim.
Willie's behind-the-scenes behavior wasn't quite as heartwarming this time around. Christina Ricci, who is afraid of monkeys, says she did her best to get over her phobia until Willie "suddenly freaked out and grabbed my left breast and would not let go." According to Ricci, Willie was grabbing her boob so hard that she thought he might end up taking it with him. She tried to call for help as quietly as possible to avoid angering Willie, but no one was looking at her so it was a while before they freed her from the little pervert. In another interview, she blamed a different monkey actor for grabbing her boob. Were there two boob-grabbing incidents? Or did Willie pressure her into changing her story? Either way, she says she went back to not liking monkeys after that.
Other actors claim they felt intimidated by Willie. Emile Hirsch says he was walking down an alley with another cast member when they saw Willie in a diaper and thought he looked funny. But Willie wasn't amused: "And we were laughing at him with his little bottle and diaper, and all of a sudden, he looked at us like he was ready to beat our (butts). We immediately averted eye contact and kept walking. He was not to be punk'd." Who knows which part of their bodies he would have tried to pull off if they hadn't backed down.
So it's impressive that John C. Reilly managed to get through to this violently antisocial animal's heart (here's hoping he can do the same thing with Ferrell and McKay). As far as we can tell, Willie never appeared in a movie again, which is probably for the best. Anyway, here's that dangerous maniac dancing adorably for two minutes.
Top image: Warner Bros. Pictures