PETA has spoken out against the use of a real monkey being cast as Ampersand in FX’s Y: The Last Man adaptation. Simply called Y, the upcoming series has hit some serious bumps on the road from page to screen.
The show is based on the comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, which ran on DC’s now-defunct Vertigo imprint from 2002-2008. It centers on a man named Yorick Brown and his male capuchin monkey, Ampersand. Both are left standing after a mysterious plague wipes out every other creature with a Y chromosome. There were plans to adapt the comic as a feature film and though the property changed hands several times, Y spent years trapped in development. It finally began to take shape as a TV series for FX with Michael Green (American Gods) and Aida Croal (Luke Cage) set as showrunners. After the Y pilot was officially ordered, Barry Keoghan was cast as Yorick. Diane Lane won the role of his mother, Jennifer, while Imogen Poots would portray his sister, Hero, and Lashana Lynch was cast as Agent 355. The Y: The Last Man show was given a series order back in February, but by April, Green and Croal had left the project due to creative differences. The series soon found a new showrunner in Eliza Clark.
According to Comic Book, Y has now come under fire by PETA for casting a real monkey to play Yorick’s simian companion. The monkey in question is named Katie. You may not recognize her by name, but Friends fans will remember that she played Marcel on the famed sitcom. This decision has drawn derision from PETA, who released the following statement:
"We were shocked to see that a real monkey was used in Y. As PETA warned FX as well as Y's producer and various showrunners, using monkeys as television props thwarts conservation efforts and promotes exotic-pet ownership, which involves removing baby monkeys from their mothers shortly after birth and raising them in deprived conditions. In an age when Aladdin and Dumbo have brought monkeys to life with realistic, humane computer-generated imagery, there's no excuse for dragging a live monkey onto the set of Y.”
Ampersand’s role in Y: The Last Man is just as vital as Yorick’s. The monkey is his closest companion for quite some time and is also central to the mystery of how one man survived a plague that killed all the others. Earlier reports claimed that Ampersand would be mostly CGI, so it’s unclear how much time Katie actually spent onscreen.
Although it should be made clear that Y hasn’t been accused of harming Katie in any way, there are plenty of cases where live animals certainly have been. In the last couple of years, Crazy Alien, A Dog’s Purpose and Alpha have all been called out for the treatment of animals on their sets, with PETA urging boycotts of all three films. Those are only a few recent examples, but animals have been treated horribly by Hollywood for decades.
As for Y, the desire to use a real monkey is understandable, not just for the obvious reasons, but also because the bond between monkey and man seems much easier to illustrate with two living beings as opposed to Keoghan acting opposite a prop. That being said, PETA makes a good point that we are living in an age that really leaves little need for movies and TV shows to continue to use animal actors, especially when the industry that uses them has a nasty track record of not looking out for their wellbeing. It’s a touchy subject because no one wants these animals mistreated and although Katie hasn’t been harmed, no one really knows if the monkey - now in her 20s - would rather be doing something else with her life. Unfortunately, Katie can’t tell us.
Source: Comic Book