Flashback: Crystal & Goodman Tell Childhood Fears
By ROBERT PACE
April 16, 2013
Before Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters, Inc., takes us back in time to when "Mike Wazowski" and "Sulley" were college students, let's take a voyage back to the past, when lead voice actors Billy Crystal and John Goodman took us into their pasts. Keeping up?
In 2001, Crystal and Goodman took on their monster characters from the city of Monstropolis, which is powered by the screams they generate by frightening children. As the two reveal in their interview for the film, they too were once terrified of monsters lurking in their closets.
"I was a scared kid in a lot of ways," Crystal admitted, elaborating on a comic skit he once performed that portrayed his childhood fears. "...I always felt that there was something that'd come out of the closet."
Although Crystal, then 53, goes on to joke about his "herring-breathed aunt in a Persian coat" being the scariest aspect of his childhood, his co-star revealed that he too was fearful of being in his room at night.
"I'd just go [into my closet and] sometimes take a broom and poke it in there real quick before I went to bed and then shove it under the bed, make sure there was nothing under there, and then pull the bulletproof sheets over my head if the bad thing started getting me," Goodman says demonstratively.
The computer-animated feature film has since become a staple in Hollywood, but in 2001, it was still a relatively novel movie medium. Pixar, which produced Monsters Inc. and is often considered a pioneer in animation, had released its first computer-animated film, Toy Story, six years before.
Although animated films had existed for a while, computer-animated films were a much more interactive experience for the voice actors due to the increased range they could capture.
Both Crystal and Goodman, who voiced the titular character in Frosty Returns, had previously done voice roles, but Monsters required more of them. They both had to bring their A game in the voice booth, as they were both video-recorded during recording sessions to infuse their idiosyncrasies into their characters.
While most voice recordings are done individually by each actor, Crystal and Goodman decided to work together and feed off each other's energy. The result was dynamite.
"It took off like a rocket. The energy really just went boom," Goodman, then 49, says of their joint recording sessions. "I'd just basically try not to get in Billy's way."
Both comedic actors were proud of not only their work but of the finished product as well. They were both touched by the film's overarching message.
"It's terrific, and it sends a great eternal truth, that...the power of laughter is better than the power of fear," Goodman assesses.
Monsters University is in theaters June 21.