You and Goodman both have this chemistry together and it definitely came across on-screen. Have you two worked together in the past? ^ I never met him before.
Being a stand-up comic, you tend to use your body a lot to get across certain jokes. Did you have to restrain your movement while they were recording your lines at all so that the microphones didn’t pick up the sounds? ^ They actually wanted you to move because they videotaped you during the session. They usually had two or three cameras on you to see how you move. So I moved around — I knew he was animated anyway, and I can’t just read a high-energy scene and keep my hands in my pockets. If you watch him he has very fluid wrists, and I am like that when I work, so they just took that and magnified it. He walks like Sammy Davis, Jr., he has the same little bowlegged thing. And the mouth, I just knew what he felt like. I’m telling you, when I put on the headphones I’m that guy.
At the end of the film when Mike is doing stand-up comedy, it almost seems as though viewers are watching Billy Crystal tell the jokes and not Mike Wazowski because the scene fit you so well. Was the ending something you created, or was it actually in the script? ^ This was a new ending, but there was another version of it. I knew that I was going to be doing stand-up for one person, and I’ve done that before, so I just decided to bomb. From there I just came up with stuff. There was different kind of jokes, different material. I think that was it. There were about four or five different endings, but it was more material type of stuff.
Now Walt Disney pictures have become something of a legacy throughout time. Kids today grow up watching “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” the way their grandparents did when they were kids. Is it important to you to be a part of something as legendary as a Walt Disney film? ^ I’ve seen the film in stages but it wasn’t until the other night that I saw it in its entirety. The first thing that hit me, that got me emotional, were the opening credits — the ‘Walt Disney Presents.’ I just grabbed my wife’s hand and held it and she asked, ‘what’s wrong?’ I just said, ‘that’s good. That’s very good,’ cause you are part of a legacy. It’s just a tremendous feeling, especially for me because my mother as a girl loved Walt Disney. My mother used to be the voice of Minnie Mouse in the Macy’s Day Parades in New York. She was Minnie in the floats and would do her voice for years. My mother would be either in the float with a microphone or already did a recording telling the kids, ‘Happy Thanksgiving!’
So how old were you when you first went to Disneyland? ^ Thirty-five.
What do you think makes Walt Disney animated films so beloved throughout the years, not to mention such a success? ^ The whole experience. It’s not just the movies. If you were lucky to go to the movies to see “Snow White” then you got a book. Then you would read the “Snow White” book. You realized, as you got older and had kids, the genius of Walt Disney. With the movies, which are spectacular stories, “Pinocchio” being my favorite, there was always a backup thing. There was a book, there was a coloring book — there was not just the film because we didn’t have tapes and it wasn’t on DVD — so you had support material. He was thinking of the kids. He was an amazing business man.
Now you mentioned earlier that you said yes to Monsters, Inc before you even knew what film John Lasseter was calling to ask you to star in. Outside the whole Disney legacy, what made you jump at the chance to star in a Pixar/Disney film without really even knowing what it was about? ^ Just because I knew it was going to be good and I was a dope who said no to being Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story.”
Really? What made you turn down the role of Buzz? ^ It was a business hassle between… it’s not even a big deal anymore and I shouldn’t really talk about it. It had to do with my managers and Disney and Robin Williams and “Aladdin.” At the time it was a big dispute. You don’t really get paid that much, so when a movie is a success and you don’t share in it… this was back then. So it was that whole ‘do you really want to get involved with this if it’s going to be ugly?’ kind of thing. They were even talking about me being Woody and so on, but looking back you’d have to take two guys out of it who were great in it and start from scratch — Woody was this kind of guy and that sort of thing — and I think Monsters, Inc was just a better fit for me.
Now in Monsters, Inc you play one of the monsters in the closet that kids across the world have always been afraid of growing up. Were you ever afraid of monsters in the closet as a kid? ^ Most of them were my relatives that would go in to use my closet. The Herring-Breath monsters as we would call them when we were kids. Actually, I didn’t like the dark. I just like to know that I can see something, so I’d keep the light on in the hallway and I closed the door, but kept it open just a little bit. So if something was coming through I could recognize it. I remember being home alone for the first time when I was ten or something like that and I would talk in different voices in case there was someone outside they would think that there were a number of people inside.
Get the rest of the interview in part four of I LIKE MIKE: BILLY CRYSTAL ON “MONSTERS, INC”>>>
Posted on November 10, 2001 in Interviews by Heather Wadowski
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