Behind the Scenes of MONSTERS UNIVERSITY with Billy Crystal and John Goodman
By Evy Baehr, Managing Editor
Scully and Mike are on the big screen again in MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. The prequel to MONSTER’S INC, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is a cute family movie that stresses the importance of working together and doing the best you can. MOVIEGUIDE® had the opportunity to hear what Billy Crystal and John Goodman had to say about working on the film.
Question: What is it about the character that resonates with you?
Billy Crystal: For me, Mike is fearless. He’s really the favorite character I’ve ever played in anything I’ve done. I’ve really missed doing him until Lasseter, at a party, came to me – it was at John’s 50th birthday party – and said we have the idea. It’s a sequel, but it’s a prequel. They’re in college. He just walked away, but he left an idea, and I went oh, this is gonna be great. It was so fun to revisit them at this time in their lives. It was such a brilliant idea to put them in that time period where they’re about to become who they’re gonna become. That’s what was so interesting to me.
I love this guy to play, and playing it with John is phenomenal because we work together in the studio, and we can act together. It’s not just – we’re not just reading lines; we’re performing them, and we’re playing them, and we feel them. I think that’s why their relationship on screen is really great because it’s a real thing.
John Goodman: I think the reason they work so well together is that they complete each other, in a way. I think Sulley really, really needs Mike Wazowski. Especially in this film, when they’re not completely formed monsters yet, they learn from each other. They learn how to adapt, how to let go of their pre-conceived notions of themselves and of the world. They’re good for each other.
Question: When you were both college age, did you each feel that you fit into the world around you, or were you a little bit of a misfit at that age? Do you remember?
Crystal: I have to admit, I was a little bit of a misfit. I was a film-directing major at NYU when – I’m still not sure why I became a directing major when I was really an actor and a comedian, but there was something that drew me to doing that. I had made a few films on my own, and I loved it. So I felt like I was a misfit, in a way, and out of it because all those other people – it was Oliver Stone, Christopher Guest, Mike McKean. It was a class of movie people. Our professor was Marty Scorsese. So he – Marty was a graduate student – Mr. Scorsese, which is what I had to call him – which I still do, when I see him, ‘cause he gave me a C. He was an intense – it was 1968-9 and ’70, and he was an intense guy, with hair down to here, a big beard and granny glasses. Who looked like that then? He was so fluent in movies and passionate, and I really felt like I wanted to be in front of people still, so I was a little out of it.
Question: Picking up on that, what kind of obstacles did you guys face to get where you wanted? ‘Cause we see these two characters have that right in their face. Did you have those moments of doubt, like this dream that I know I’m destined for might not happen?
Crystal: I still have them. You still do.
Crystal: Every time we finish doing something, we don’t have something else – except him. He did 14 movies last year. You’re the new Michael Caine.
Goodman: Thank you very much.
Crystal: I’m just a guy who can’t say no.
Question: What used to scare you under the bed or in the closet when you were little, and what scares you now when you go to bed?
Crystal: I still don’t love the darkness, though I’ve learned to smile in it a little bit now and then. I’m just sorta – the unknown has always been a little scary when you think about those things, especially as you get older. Boy, that got heavy!
Goodman: It was just run-of-the-mill FRANKENSTEIN. I love those old Universal movies – especially when they’d switch off and Bela Lugosi would play Frankenstein.