Were animal welfare experts somehow missing from the set of "The Hangover 2"?

In an interview with Total Film magazine, director Todd Phillips says his star monkey, Crystal the capuchin, became addicted to cigarettes during the shoot. Why? Because they wanted her to.

“I wanted the monkey to smoke so we had to train her to," said Phillips. "Now I have PETA after me because the monkey’s become addicted to cigarettes. She was just shooting Cameron Crowe’s movie We Bought A Zoo. And the monkey won’t stop smoking.”

Now there's a great chance that Phillips could be joking, all in an attempt to drum up controversy and publicity for the film. Crystal the capuchin is something of a rising star in Hollywood circles - having previously worked with Ben Stiller in the “Night at the Museum” films - and it's hard to believe her trainer would jeopardize her health this way.

Then again, there's no shortage of instances where animals in film have been abused for the sake of a gag or shot. It's just hard to imagine that in 2011 we'd still be talking about a director thinking it's a funny idea to get a monkey addicted to cigarettes.

UPDATE: Todd Phillips has admitted that this was all just a joke. His statement below: 

This was a joke. I make comedies.


If you read the story, it doesn’t even make sense. “On the set of her new film, she won’t stop smoking cigarettes”. Umm. Really? Maybe just take them away from her. Or at least take her money away so she can’t buy them any longer.


When you are doing press for a film, it tends to get repetitive, lots of the same questions over and over. Sometimes I like to mix it up with the journalists. Obviously, the monkey in the film NEVER smoked a single cigarette. There are people on set whose sole job is to protect that monkey. Even if I wanted her to smoke it wouldn’t be allowed. By the way, she also appears to do cocaine in the movie, but I guarantee you that she didn’t do that either (I can’t, however, comment on Ken Jeong’s cocaine use in the film).


Sorry for the confusion, but it definitely is a funny headline “PETA pissed after Todd Phillips gets Hangover 2 monkey addicted to cigarettes.” Definitely one for the office wall.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

'Hangover 2' monkey addicted to smoking
Director Todd Phillips claims his star monkey was trained to enjoy cigarettes and consequently won't give them up.