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Tony Shalhoub on Monk's Dramatic Return and the One Change He Asked For

Monk returns in Mr. Monk's Last Case a little worse off than fans left him in the show's series finale.

By Stephanie Gomulka

Fans of Monk who are looking to dive back in with the beloved characters are in for a roller coaster ride—or a hilariously slow car chase to be more specific—with Peacock’s Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie. The film features many of the original cast members and a new murder mystery at its center. 

Emmy winning actor Tony Shalhoub opened up to USA Insider about how the film moves the needle for the show’s ability to balance both dark and funny moments.

Warning: This article deals with a character who has suicidal ideation and contains details about the movie. If you or someone you know is thinking about self-harm or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Adrian Monk Reaches a Low Point in Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie

Key art for Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie

Although the mystery of his wife Trudy’s (Melora Hardin) murder was solved in the series, Monk is still wracked with grief. In the movie, he longs to be with her again and is even able to speak with Trudy, which concerns his psychiatrist Dr. Neven Bell (Hector Elizondo). 

Monk’s initial thoughts of suicide are a stark contrast to where we left him at the end of season 8. He was getting better and “on the mend,” according to Shalhoub.

“He was in this whole mode and process of healing,” Shalhoub told USA Insider. “His symptoms are starting to dissipate…”

A major turning point and a “compelling reason to revisit the character” was the COVID-19 pandemic, Shalhoub said. 

RELATED: Tony Shalhoub on How Monk Navigated His Character’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

“Now we find him probably even… in worse condition than he was at the start of the series,” Shalhoub said when asked about Monk’s low point. “He’s falling into despair.”

Monk doesn’t see a path forward and doesn’t even have work to focus on anymore, Shalhoub added. Noting, Monk’s work as a detective previously kept his head above water.

Mr. Monk’s Last Case is Close to His Heart

Caitlin McGee as Molly

If there’s one person Monk would risk his life for, or more aptly put, risk encountering germs for… its his stepdaughter Molly (Caitlin McGee)

RELATED: Tony Shaloub Talks Whether This is Really Mr. Monk’s Last Case: "Never Say Never"

The movie places Monk in a conundrum after he loses a book deal he was banking on to pay for Molly’s upcoming wedding to her fiancé Griffen (Austin Scott). He finds himself on the case after Griffen dies and Molly strongly suspects foul play.

Even though the film continues on in the show’s tradition of handling darker moments, Shalhoub says they’ve also expanded on the comedy. 

“We wanted to make sure that we could keep the comedy alive,” Shalhoub explained. “I hope we’ve succeeded at that.”

Tony Shalhoub on One Change He Requested for the Movie

Traylor Howard as Natalie Teeger, Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Ted Levine as Leland Stottlemeyer, and Jason Gray-Stanford as Randy Disher

Shalhoub laughed warmly while recalling some of the “certain physical challenges” returning to the character posed for him.  It sparked one conversation he had with series creator and writer Andy Breckman

“I said look, I’m not—I don’t want to be chasing down garbage trucks and things like I did in the older episodes,” Shalhoub said. 

Although he put in the ask, Breckman still inserted a running scene where Monk chases a guy who unknowingly is holding a bomb in the movie, Shalhoub noted: “Luckily…we kept those scenes to a minimum.”

“Not that I’m in terrible shape, but you know 14 years… is a long time,” Shalhoub said.“I just don’t have the same flexibility that I had.”

Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie premieres on December 8th on Peacock. Stream all eight seasons of the show now.

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