Friends: The Reunion | Official Trailer. Video / HBOWhen David Schwimmer declared working with Marcel the monkey was the “worst thing” about filming Friends, he probably was not anticipating the animal’s trainer to hit back.
Handler Mike Morris, who worked on Friends for Marcel’s eight starring episodes in the first season, dubbed Schwimmer “despicable” and “jealous” for his comments during the Friends reunion last month, in which the 54-year-old US actor claimed the monkey regularly “messed up” filming.
“Here is my problem: The monkey, obviously, was trained. It had to hit its mark and do its thing right at the perfect time,” Schwimmer said during the reunion, which streams on Binge.
“What inevitably began to happen was we would all have choreographed bits kind of timed out, and it would get messed up, because the monkey didn’t do its job right. So we would have to reset, we’d have to go again, because the monkey didn’t get it right.
“It was time for Marcel to f**k off.”
Morris has since told The Sun in an astonishing interview that the two monkeys who portrayed Marcel only had a problem with Schwimmer, and performed professionally with other cast members, namely Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc.
“I didn’t watch the reunion interview but I heard from others what Schwimmer said. I just don’t agree with it, if anything he threw off their timing if we want to be truthful,” Morris said.
“Schwimmer was fine with the monkeys for the first couple of episodes and happy to be there, but people would laugh at the monkey and I think he got jealous because it wasn’t him getting the laughs.
“He seemed to get a little bitter about them being there after that, and of course the monkeys didn’t like working with him after he turned on them.
“It made it harder to do the work. A five-camera show is hard to work on with animals anyway so if you have an actor that’s not very helpful, it makes it even worse.
“My colleague who also worked on the show says that people would laugh at the monkey and throw Schwimmer off. He’s not the kind of actor who can improvise.”
This is why Morris thinks Schwimmer despised working with the monkeys, saying he was “regimented” and wasn’t able to ad lib.
“I think a good actor can play off an animal,” Morris said.
“We did a shot with Seinfeld and he played off the monkey and went with what the monkey was doing.
“I think David had a little problem with that, he was very regimented and had to do what the script said.
“I think he had a problem improvising with the monkey.”
A capuchin named Katie was one of the two monkeys to play Marcel, who is still working in the film business and living in the San Fernando Valley. The other monkey, known as Monkey, died of cancer in August last year.
“Schwimmer was talking ill of the dead when he made those comments,” Morris added.
“I find it despicable for him to still be speaking ill of her.”
The reunion special wasn’t the first time Schwimmer has spoken of his grievances working with the monkeys.
Morris said he has never watched the ’90s sitcom because of Schwimmer’s earlier claims the monkeys threw poop and tried to bite him.
“I have refused to (watch Friends) ever since he did an interview after the animals got written out of the show and he said they tried to bite him and throw poop at him,” Morris said.
“They didn’t do any of that. None of it is true, when I was there none of that ever happened.”
Despite the monkey business, Morris said Katie doesn’t hold any bad blood toward Schwimmer.
“Katie can’t speak for herself so that’s why I’m talking out for her,” Morris said.
“The monkeys definitely wouldn’t hold a grudge against David, if Katie had to work with him again tomorrow she would do it no problem.
“I know he holds a grudge against the monkeys but they definitely don’t hold one against him.
“They’re just good-natured animals and probably don’t even remember him.”