Monkeybone | EW.com

Movies

Brendan Fraser, Monkeybone

(Monkeybone: Peter Iovino)

When Selick and Hamm were drafting the story of a comic artist who suffers a blow to the head and enters a netherworld dominated by his primate creation, Ben Stiller was in talks to star. But Stiller was just coming off ”There’s Something About Mary,” and, recalls Selick, ”every week he was feeling a little more powerful…. He wanted to bring on his own writer, and that was a little hard for me.” (A rep for Stiller says that while the actor did feel ”the script needed some work,” he never suggested using his own writer – ”it never got that far.”)

Ultimately, talks stalled, and Stiller opted for ”Mystery Men.” The director then tapped Fraser for a shoot that began in November ‘99, just after the actor’s star rose in ”The Mummy.” Fraser’s character, whom Selick calls ”kind of a Matt Groening before ‘The Simpsons,”’ tries to escape purgatory and rejoin his girlfriend (Fonda) by vanquishing Death (Goldberg) and the obnoxious Monkeybone (a stop motion puppet voiced by John Turturro). ”SNL” trouper Kattan plays a reanimated dead gymnast with a broken neck. ”The hardest part,” he reports, ”is getting the head to flop without your muscles kicking in and going ‘Ow! That’s gonna hurt!”’