Friends monkey trainer hits back at David Schwimmer for badmouthing simian costar: 'Let it go'
As has long been well-established, Schwimmer was not exactly a fan of the monkeys who played Ross's pet Marcel on Friends. (Marcel was played by two female capuchins, one named Katie and one simply named Monkey.)
"I hate the monkey," Schwimmer famously told EW back in 1995. "The trainers won't let me bond with it. They're really, really possessive. It's like, 'Land on your marks, do your job, don't touch or bond with the monkey.' It's a bummer."
More recently, during HBO Max's Friends reunion, Schwimmer said, "Here is my problem: The monkey, obviously, was trained. It had to hit its mark and do its thing right at the perfect time. 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."
But according to animal trainer Mike Morris, who handled the Marcel capuchins on the NBC sitcom, there's a different explanation: Schwimmer was "jealous" of his simian costars.
That's what Morris told the U.K. tabloid The Sun, anyway, in a new interview published Monday. "This is just my opinion... [but] the first couple episodes [Schwimmer] was pretty friendly with the monkey, and after that, the monkey was getting a lot of laughs, and either it was throwing him off or [he was] getting a little jealous," said Morris, who told the outlet he worked on "about five episodes" of Friends. "I don't know. One of those two things."
Morris also responded to Schwimmer's comments that the trainers wouldn't let him "bond" with the monkey: "It is true that we prefer that actors don't become too friendly with the monkey. An actor is a prop to the monkey and has to work with that prop. We don't want them to become friends because then [monkeys] think, 'Oh, it's my friend, I don't have to work… They just want to go hang out with their friend instead of doing what they're supposed to do. It's not out of spite or malice."
Morris added that Schwimmer's costars Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc, who also shared scenes with the monkeys, were "a pleasure to work with." In 2019, LeBlanc told Jimmy Kimmel, "I liked the monkey! I like animals, and the monkey was really cool. Schwimmer… Not so much. He's the one that had to work with it the most, so he was like, 'Again with the monkey?' But I got along great with it."
While Katie, one of the capuchins, is still working, Morris told The Sun that Monkey recently died of cancer. "So Schwimmer was talking ill of the dead when he made those comments [on the reunion]," said Morris, who added that he's never watched Friends or the reunion "because of David Schwimmer."
"I find it despicable for him to still be speaking ill of her," he continued. "Him still talking ill about the monkey all these years later seems pretty childish to me… It was one season over 25 years ago, it's time to let it go."
Every episode of Friends is currently streaming on HBO Max alongside the reunion special.