Tim Burton's original Batman films paved the way for the superhero renaissance that we're experiencing today. While we owe a great deal to those movies, we had no idea that making them was quite as dangerous as it apparently was. Danny DeVito recently told a story about working with a spider monkey on the set of Batman Returns that almost went very badly for the actor.
The monkey comes down, takes one look at me and leaps at my balls. Swear to god, it was like horrifying because it was slow motion...Thank god, I'm in this suit that is full of all this padding and shit. He grabbed ahold right in here, he took a big, big mouthful.
While most of the animals that Danny DeVito had to work with in Batman Returns were penguins, the movie also included an organ grinder character who had a monkey that worked with him. While a guest on The Graham Norton Show, DeVito spoke about a scene where he had to take a note from the monkey's paw. After watching the animal trainers do the trick DeVito was ready to do the scene, but apparently, the monkey didn't care for The Penguin's menacing look, as instead of handing him a note, he jumped for the actor's crotch.
The good news, is that since the Penguin suit was a massively padded thing, the actor survived the experience uninjured, which is good, because if it hadn't been for the suit, it sounds like Danny DeVito would have been seriously hurt. It apparently took some work to get the monkey to release his grip. Check out the full comments below. The violent stuff starts at about the two-minute mark.
We're not sure we'd have the fortitude to try that scene again after an experience like that. It sounds like the second take went fine. It's not clear what they did to calm the monkey down. Although, if you look at the way the final scene ended up in the film, it would appear they didn't even need Danny DeVito to be there, an animal trainer with a Penguin glove could have made it work. Danny Devito and the monkey are never actually in the shot at the same time.
They say actors should never work with children or animals. We didn't realize the reason for that was that they might try and kill you. We always thought wearing the Penguin suit in Batman Returns looked like a pretty terrible experience. It turns out it was a life-saving device.