Monsters At Work on Disney+ marks a much-anticipated reunion for Billy Crystal and John Goodman, 20 years after they first teamed up for Monsters, Inc.
The original 2001 Pixar animation captured the imagination with its portrayal of two bumbling but well-meaning monsters, Mike and Sulley, who tried to turn children’s fear into fuel in the city of Monstropolis. Now, Crystal and Goodman are back to voice the lovable pair in spin-off Monsters At Work, airing from Wednesday 7 July on Disney+.
The 10-part series follows the monsters as they now try to make kids laugh rather than scream, after discovering that giggles create 10 times more energy. Meanwhile, a nervous new recruit, Tylor Tuskmon (Mad Men’s Ben Feldman), dreams of becoming a "Jokester" but is given a job as a mechanic with the Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team (MIFT) alongside keen Val (The Mindy Project's Mindy Kaling) and their bewildered boss Fritz (Happy Day's Henry Winkler).
Here, Crystal and Goodman tell us more about Monsters At Work...
Where do we pick things up in Monsters At Work?
"It’s the day after Monsters, Inc. stopped, it doesn't feel like a sequel, the story just continues," enthuses Crystal. "There are changes now that they're harvesting laughs and Sulley and Mike are in charge. Like they said about Laurel and Hardy, it’s two minds without a single thought! Sulley’s smarter but Mike’s got responsibility with a comedy class where he teaches the monsters how to be funny — but he isn’t funny himself!"
"It's more fun to do laughs instead of scares!" smiles Goodman. "Sulley always wanted to be a good ‘scare guy’, but he's really found his groove now."
What has it been like returning to the characters?
"Oh, I loved getting back into Mike," says Crystal. "I don't think he ever left me. He’s pretty much my favourite character I've played. To team up again with John in such a beautiful series was so exciting. And the new characters breathe a whole other life into it."
"Yes, it was a no-brainer," explains Goodman. "The script is so good and the animation is of such high quality that we had a lot of fun."
Monsters At Work was partly recorded during the pandemic, was that tricky?
"It was a strange process," reveals Crystal. "I’d pull up to the empty studio lot – it was like an episode of The Walking Dead! Then somebody greets you in a hazmat suit, you have to scrub down, then go into the studio, and everybody else was on a big screen, so we never saw each other. But Pixar is a great place to go to work."
This is all about the monsters generating laughs, does that feel important after the challenges of the past year?
"Oh, it's a great place to escape to and have a little vacation, it’s just a wonderful other world, it’s imaginative, it's out there," admits Goodman.
"Yes, the timing couldn't be better," adds Crystal. "Watching it, it's emotional but funny. And everyone can watch together. Monsters, Inc. was the first movie of mine my grandchildren could see — with When Harry Met Sally, I couldn’t explain why she was screaming in the deli! So it's great to revisit it and now they're older, their friends will watch it, and kids who watched before and are now adults will have their kids watching. That's a great feeling."
When will Monsters At Work air?
The first two episodes of the 10-part series will air from Wednesday July 7 on Disney+ before airing weekly.
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Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.
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