So the Wachowski Brothers (the geniuses behind The Matrix) have been holed up for a while working on a live action version of the ’60s cult cartoon Speed Racer. Sounds pretty awesome, except that they’ve made the decision to use a real chimpanzee to portray Speed Racer’s simian friend Chim Chim. And, as always when a primate is used in filming, it is an absolute guarantee that there’s behind-the-scenes abuse—even when those half-awake film enthusiasts at the American Humane Association are on the job. The fact is that while the original, animated Chim Chim never had any trouble mugging for the camera, the new guy on the job can think of about a million things that he’d rather be doing than performing for the Wachowski brothers. For most chimpanzees used on set, this natural aversion to stardom means that severe beatings, intimidation, and all-round lousy treatment are standard tools of the trade for the trainers who are paid to make them perform. And according to our source on set, the chimp being used for this movie is no exception, which may well explain why he recently deviated from the script and bit a child actor.
We’ve been communicating back and forth with the movie’s producer, Joel Silver, asking that he make the humane decision and use animatronics instead of live animal actors. I’ll keep you posted on any developments with this one, and you can read more about how that discussion’s been going here. Incidentally, my favorite movie blog, I Watch Stuff, also covered the story, which pretty much made my day.
And finally, please click here to learn more and to ask that the Wachowski brothers use animatronics instead of live animals.