Never Work With Animals

Jon Favreau made a “live-action” Jungle Book movie without using one single live animal. Other directors, however, have been braver-slash-stupider, so let’s take a look.

Babe: a movie about a pig raised by sheep herding dogs involved a lot of animal wrangling by necessity. George Miller’s decade-long labour of love meant that 60101ec7bdac16815ba15ab7f0ccd87156 animal trainers had to be on set to corral the 1000 animals it took to bring the production together. The talking pig herself was actually a series of 48 real Yorkshire piglets because the babies grows so fast, plus an animatronic double (all the pigs were female – pig penises are too noticeable). A makeup artist would add a toupee and eyelashes to each, and the snout would be digitally manipulated so it appeared to be talking. The film was such an ordeal that James Cromwell, a vegetarian at the time, decided to become a strict vegan afterwards. In fact, the movie made trouble for the whole pork industry.

Turner & Hooch: a buddy cop movie in which a detective must adopt the dog of a dead man to help him find the murderer. Hooch wturner-and-hooch-o.gifas played by Beasley, a Dogue de Bordeaux, one of the most ancient French breeds. He was so strong that during scenes where Tom Hanks walked him, he would often escape, besting Hanks who would drop the leash. Bad Hooch!

 

101 Dalmatians: a woman with fascinating hair kidnaps puppies to kill them for their fur, but various animals then gang up against her and get their hqdefaultrevenge. Glenn Close starred in the live-action remake, and was so convincing in her wig and makeup that one of the pups, a little guy named Perdy, would always run away. There are 101 Dalmatians in the movie but it took 230 puppies and 20 adults to complete the filming, and an untold number of raw hot dogs to rub over Jeff Daniels’ face in order to induce puppy licking. The dogs were highly-trained actors, but when the handler yelled “Sit”, it was invariably Daniels who did the sitting.

The Bear: an adult grizzly adopts an orphaned cub and evade hunters together. Bart the Bear played the fully grown bear and had to be prepared to act alongside a cub since in the wild a male bear would normally eat him. Trainers gave Bart teddy bears to practice being gentle and when the real cub was finally introduced, all went well. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop made 5 Bartthebearanimatronic bears to use as stand-ins but when they were flown out to the Dolomites it was clear they just weren’t convincing enough and were hardly used. Bart was an Alaskan Kodiak bear, standing 9 and a half feet tall and weighing 1500lbs, although do remember that the camera always adds 10. Director  Jean-Jacques Annaud called Bart “the John Wayne of bears.” His trainer insists that frequent collaborator Anthony Hopkins (he and Bart starred together in Legends of the Fall and The Edge) “respected him like a fellow actor” and indeed one movie critic credited Bart with “a milestone in ursine acting.” Bart made an appearance at the 70th Academy Awards in a tribute to animal actors, presenting an envelope to un unflappable Mike Myers.

Andre: a “true story” about a marine sea lion who befriends a little girl and her family. Embarrassingly, the real Andre was a harbour seal but the Hollywood enhanced-6470-1414787538-22Andre was played by a sea lion named Tory because seals are “notoriously hard to train” and “easily distracted.” Tory, like most sea lions, could not be house broken, making scenes shot indoors extra tricky. And little Tina Majorino’s tears were real in the final parting scene in part because Tory smelled so goddamned bad. But Tory went on to have a son named Andre who lives in Memphis Zoo where he pursues his dreams of being an artist – his paintings are available by auction.

War Horse: a young man goes off to war, following his beloved horse recently sold to the infantry. Real horses performed nearly all of the stunts in the movie – charging into battle, trudging canons up a hill – and trainer Bobby Lovgren had his work cut out for him. He trained 14 horses to do the work intumblr_m4bp4mGOjc1qafz1k.gif this film, choosing horses familiar with parades or rodeo work for their crowd exposure, and then worked on their not spooking around gunfire. The trainer’s own Andelusian, Finder’s Key (star of Seabiscuit), did a lot of the heavy lifting and even did horse “drag” for the birth scene, where he played the mother since using a foal’s real mother would be too distracting. Finder is also the horse who was trained to jump clear over a tank – a feat accomplished using many carrots for bribes, as you can imagine.

Free Willy: the movie’s about a depressed whale set free by a sympathetic little boy but sadly, the orca who played him, named Keiko, was himself held in free-willy-killing-keikocaptivity. The film’s popularity brought attention to his living conditions in a too-small tank with too-warm chlorinated water which made him sick. A custom tank was built for him in Oregon so he was flown from Mexico to his new home where he recovered enough to be moved to a sea pen in 1998. He was finally released from captivity in 2002 after 22 long years “behind bars” but he died just a year later at the age of 27 after the sudden onset of pneumonia.

As you can see, there are lots of deserving animals on set, and The PATSY awards were given out to just such outstanding animal actors ( Picture Animal Top Star of the Year); the very first was given to Francis the Talking Mule in 1951. Other recipients include Spike the dog for Old Yeller, Orangey the cat foruntitled Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Sophie the sea lion for Dr. Dolittle. Nowadays it’s all about the Pawscars, hosted by the American Humane Society, where Crystal  the Capuchin monkey, aka “The Angelina Jolie of animal stars”, star of Night at the Museum and The Hangover: Part II, received the Lifetime Diva Achievement award recently. And this year the horses who trotted up the mountain in The Hateful Eight were awarded as well as Buttercup, the cat from the Hunger Games series.

Who is your favourite movie animal?

 

Advertisements

53 thoughts on “Never Work With Animals

  1. Lara/Trace

    Jay, I don’t actually remember this (because I was tiny) but the theme song from Lassie made me cry every time. (This is according to my now deceased parents) WHY did I love that song and the dog so much?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      My youngest sister felt the same way about the theme song for The Littlest Hobo, another show about a dog. Strange. It’s easy to love dogs though.

      Like

      Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      It is. He seems to have a soft spot for animals. After writing Babe, he went on to direct the Babe sequel, and then did the penguin movie, Happy Feet.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Christopher

    Because I live with Dalmatians I have to go with the Dalmatians, although there was some controversy with the live-action film. The Dalmatian Club of America wanted to educate people and discourage overbreeding and people buying puppies on a whim and Disney gets a mixed review for how they handled that.
    Also Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams are hilarious.
    To Disney’s credit there are a couple of shots in the live-action version where you see liver puppies. Most people don’t realize that some Dalmatians have liver spots (and also brindle, blue, orange, and yellow, but these variants are discouraged).
    I’m also surprised hot dogs were needed on Jeff Daniels’ face because Dalmatians can be pretty affectionate.
    Parts of the story–including “Mrs. Pongo” giving birth to fifteen puppies, one of whom was stillborn but revived–came from playwright Dodie Smith’s real experiences with Dalmatians.
    It’s funny that a pup named Perdy would run away from Glenn Close. In the original book–another event taken from Smith’s real life–Mrs. Pongo couldn’t feed all the puppies so they found a liver-spotted female who lost her litter but still had milk to help.
    They named her “Perdita”, meaning “lost girl”.
    I’ll shut up about Dalmatians now.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  3. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy

    “[T]he camera always adds ten.” Totally cracked up at that one.

    As for working with animals, I definitely understand the trouble of that. I mean, dogs are fine. But other animals? If they are like cats, they cannot be fun to work with. As for a favorite movie animal…there are a ton to choose from! Despite loving animals, I tend to like movies where the animals aren’t the main focus, but supporting characters who add something (think Bruiser in Legally Blonde).

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      Haha, yes, you know the highs and lows of working with animals!
      And thanks for picking up on that joke – you have an eye for those!

      I like Tom Hardy’s puppy in The Drop 😉

      Like

      Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      I looked him up. I never did see that movie, and I can’t even remember having heard about it. However, the cover does say “kids will squeal over Gordy” so I guess it’s accurate.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Jay Post author

        I have 4 little ones, and sometimes I suspect that they go Transformers on me when I’m out of sight and become one big dog. But even the 4 of them together are only about 40 pounds, so that’s a medium dog at best. Don’t tell them I said that. They all think they’re quite ferocious and impressive.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That Other Critic

    You gotta love the orangutan that stars alongside Clint Eastwood in Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can.
    Or how about Ronald Reagan’s chimp from Bedtime for Bonzo?
    Of course, there’s always Dunston Checks In.
    Come to think of it, there were a lot of chimp comedies in the 20th century. We don’t really get those that often anymore, do we?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Birgit

    I wonder if Bart the Bear felt fat…hahahahaa. I love Babe and had a dream once where I wanted to sing with the mice and they said sure so I was arm in arm with the mice singing that song. When I woke up my husband at that time asked me what I was dreaming because he knew that song but couldn’t place it. I told him the dream and to this day, I still sing that song in My dreams. Yes, I have very…very vivid dreams. ( I just had another movie dream with Cate Blanchett as a fairy in a beautiful Christmas sparkly poinsettia gown with Mad Max depressing scenes thrown in, an Irish bar, romance, flying…yup one dream). I am a sucker for animals and can cry like an idiot. Lassie with Roddy McDowell, 2 Brothers, Never Cry Wolf, I even watched the Canadian show, The Littlest Hobo.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      We loved The Littlest Hobo!

      I love the concept of a pointsettia dress. Now I want one. Also: singing with the mice? Too adorable. I wish I could watch your dreams!

      Like

      Reply
      1. calensariel

        (One of these days I’m going to learn to proofread these comments. That is just pure cussed laziness to spell your own flippin’ name wrong! (rolls eyes…)

        Like

  6. J.

    Great post. My favourite movie animal is definitely Clyde. He rocked. Any orangutan that hangs out with Clint Eastwood and Geoffrey Lewis is topping my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. DotedOn

    I loved this post, Jay! 🙂
    I really like animals but I’m not a fan of movies with them. I think I’m afraid to like them even more and want to adopt a pet… I can’t handle another living creature!
    You asked for a favorite movie animal… Difficult! The one that comes to my mind is “Hidalgo” but I’m not sure if it’s because of the horse or Viggo Mortensen 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. ridicuryder

    Jay,

    Nice post. I’m constantly amazed at what animals do in front of the camera. This maybe somewhat a cheat, but the seal in The Secret of Roan Inish was a Selkie…so also a dark Irish beauty….disqualify me if you must.

    RR

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. Pingback: June 2016 Favourites | FILM GRIMOIRE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s