Crystal, Goodman are roommates at 'Monsters University'
05:00 AM, Apr 24, 2013
Billy Crystal likes acting with John Goodman so much that he’ll work in the same room with the guy.
That may not sound like much. But in the world of Hollywood animation, that’s about as typical as a summer movie living up to the promise of its trailer.
“His voice is just too big, too good to go off a recording,” Crystal says. “You need to be in a room with the guy to get the chemistry.”
Crystal and Goodman hope to reignite the chemistry they found a dozen years ago in Monsters, Inc. when they join vocal forces again for Monsters University. The film, which hits screens June 21, is Pixar’s first prequel and the 14th film from the studio since 1995’s Toy Story.
It’s also Pixar’s opportunity for 14 straight films to premiere at No. 1 at the box office, a streak Crystal wants to hear nothing about.
“You get nervous every time a movie opens because you never really know if people are going to come out until they do,” he says. “But with this, you also don’t want to let the studio down, because they have such a reputation.”
So do Crystal and Goodman, who broke from tradition in 2001 when Crystal insisted they work in the same recording booth for Monsters, Inc., a comedy made for $115 million that would earn $290 million in the USA and $563 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
Most voice-over actors rarely see each other when shooting an animated film The Croods co-stars Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds didn’t even meet until the premiere let alone share a soundstage.
But “there’s a rhythm between those two guys that you just can’t duplicate from separate (audio) tracks,” says director Dan Scanlon, whose film takes us back to the college days of Mike Wazowski (Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (Goodman), when the two were rivals, not colleagues.
Crystal says he recalls his first day on set for Monsters, Inc., when he was to perform a scene using an audio track of Goodman’s lines.
“If one person goes before the other, you’re laying down the rules for the scene,” Crystal says. “It’s not spontaneous, particularly when you improvise as much as we do.”
They never recorded separately again. Goodman says part of their on-screen rapport comes from their off-screen differences, particularly size. The thunder-voiced Goodman stands at 6-foot-2 and has a hefty build, while Crystal has pipes that are a full octave higher and is slight: 5-foot-7 in shoes. Maybe.
“We really like to get physical and play off each other,” says Goodman, 60. “It helps you connect with the character you’re playing. After two hours of recording, I’m wiped out. It’s like we played a rugby match.”
A match both are willing to play again. “Some actors have trouble getting back into a role,” Goodman says. “This was like an old pair of sneakers.”
Crystal’s only request: If Pixar makes another installment, the studio shouldn’t wait so long.
“I know they wanted to get the story right, and that’s what makes the movie special,” says Crystal, 65. “But I can’t wait another 12 years.”