Monkey is top dog among animal actors Crystal the monkey poses at the premiere of "The Hangover Part II" at Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood in 2011 (AP photo / Reuters)
Monkey is top dog among animal actors
Lexile

A monkey who's starred in 25 movies over two decades was top dog at the sixth annual Pawscars, the animal version of the Oscars. Waving a statue over her head in triumph, a beaming Crystal accepted the "lifetime diva achievement award" looking every bit the part in a pink, floor-length gown and necklace during the show streaming online.

The Capuchin monkey, who played a Ben Stiller-slapping, key-stealing primate in "Night at the Museum" and a drug-dealing monkey in "Hangover Part II," is "the Angelina Jolie of animal stars," said "NCIS" actress Pauley Perrette, who hosted the show with teen actor Lou Wegner.

Holding her tiny hand, Perrette asked the prolific primate: "So Crystal, you have starred with some of the top leading men of all times Bradley Cooper, Ben Stiller, Matt Damon, Robin Williams did you have a favorite?"

Crystal nodded as her "answer" appears on screen: "Robin did call me his favorite leading lady, but my favorite leading man has to be my trainer Tom Gunderson."

The show honors other animal actors in categories such as best puppy under pressure and best supporting equine.

As pets become more important parts of everyday life, including on film and TV, animal award shows have grown in popularity. Pets already took the limelight at the World Dog Awards, the Puppy Bowl and Kitten Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday, and the Westminster dog show.

Unlike the Oscars, the Pawscars are are far more low-key. The hosts announced the awards from armchairs in Perrette's Hollywood guest house, while Crystal perched on a nearby ottoman. Other winners were sent an official Pawscars certificate and special treat.

Praise for animals on set doesn't come without detractors. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says live animals don't belong in film and TV work. The American Humane Association, the group hosting the Pawscars, has a 75-year-old program that ensures the safety of animal actors and gives its approval by allowing the familiar "No Animal Was Harmed" tagline to roll in movie credits.

Other Pawscars include:

BEST YOUNG ANIMAL PERFORMER

A trio of pit bull puppies won for their work in the late James Gandolfini's last film, "The Drop." It took T, Puppers, Ice and a makeup artist to bring to life Rocco, a dog that appears in the mob drama. Puppies grow so fast that the film needed three and non-toxic makeup to make them match.

BEST SUPPORTING EQUINE

The award went to Dale, a horse in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" who carries the apes' leader. It looks like the apes ride bareback, thanks to special-effects markers on the saddles that are removed in post-production, Perrette said. In scenes where the horses appear to be jumping over fire, they are actually jumping over a foot-high bar with flickering lights.

BEST AQUATIC PERFORMANCE

The honor went to Savannah, who plays a dolphin that dies in "Dolphin Tale 2." She avoided having to learn a death scene thanks to animatronics. As for the other marine life, the American Humane Association made sure no animal worked more than an hour without a break.

BEST ENSEMBLE

The animals of "Wild" prevailed. Muffet the horse, Dharma the fox, Fred the rattlesnake, Tess the dog, Sport the rabbit and Taiga the llama. In the film about a woman's solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, 40 frogs covered a sleeping Reese Witherspoon. A foot-high barrier surrounding her meant no single frog was lost, Wegner said.

Critical thinking challenge: In "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," why didn't the horses actually jump over fire?

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COMMENTS (14)
  • coreyong-Koc
    3/01/2015 - 11:50 p.m.

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  • jm1999gizmo
    3/02/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    the reason that the horses didnt have to jump over fire was because they wouldent, horses are afraid of fire and they would probably never jump over it . so instead of forceing a horse over the fire and making it cheesy they could just put a green screen behind it and make it look relistic

  • faithd-Che
    3/02/2015 - 11:48 a.m.

    In "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," why didn't the horses actually jump over fire?

    If the horses actually jumped over fire, it could've led to a disaster!

  • nicholas.jones07
    3/02/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    I think that the Pawscars are very interesting. You have to love animals a lot to give them their own award show. I think that these people just love dogs and have too much time on their hands.

  • eugenef-DiB
    3/02/2015 - 01:40 p.m.

    well if anything a monkey would be a better actor than a dog because they are closer to human evolution. they can walk upright like human being and believe or not act in some ways of humans.

  • fernandoc-Che
    3/02/2015 - 01:46 p.m.

    I don't find it surprising that a monkey is the top of animal actors since they share a lot of our abilities, it's cool that they can comprehend what the instructors tell him to do then do it.

  • marcusr-Che
    3/02/2015 - 01:49 p.m.

    it is amazing how smart this animal is and how much movies she played in over 2 decades most of the movies I seen with her were funny

  • namelt-Che
    3/02/2015 - 01:50 p.m.

    I think that its cool for a monkey to be an actor because they have to be well trained in order to do that kind of stuff. My opinion I think that it would be kind of dangerous because what if the monkey gets mad and start a riot.

  • nygels-DiB
    3/03/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    i would wanna work with a monkey. i see on t.v. almost everyday monkeys acting monkeys doing cermercials. they are like humans us but just very hairy and little less speechless.

  • Haley Patterson
    3/03/2015 - 01:54 p.m.

    I love when monkeys are in movies. They are so cute and can climb anything and always seem to do something funny. My favorite movie with a monkey in it is The Night At The Museum.

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