The Oscars are on the horizon and one of the most talked about films generating Awards buzz is “The Artist”. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, the romantic film stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo and celebrates the forgotten beauty of silent cinema. The two leads share the screen with Uggie (winner of the “Palm Dog Award” at last years’ Cannes Film Festival) who has arguably become the most famous four legged supporting actor since Eddie from American sit-com “Frasier”. Discovering the canine was in the Capital this week, we couldn’t resist questioning the lovable dog that critics have described as “an utter star” about his experiences.
You have gone literally from rags to riches having been rescued from a dog pound to starring in Hollywood productions – how does it feel to have the world at your paws?
I wasn’t actually at the pound yet but that’s where I was going before Omar [Von Muller, Uggie’s trainer] rescued me, but now everything is great and all the sexy bitches look at me like I am the Dog.
Has acting always come naturally to you?
For you humans it’s called acting – for me is just being myself.
Was it difficult to remain silent for The Artist?
Well, when I got the part they said no speaking they did not say barking. So I barked all I wanted.
It is a well known rule of cinema that directors should never work with animals or children – we can see you are a professional, but how did you find working with director Michel Hazanavicius?
Working with Michel was great. I really don’t understand why they won’t want to work with kids and dogs if all we do is make their movies shine.
A lot of the cast are French – was there a language barrier when it came to making this film?
I could not understand half of what they were saying, but all I had to do was wag my tail and they would smile. So it wasn’t so hard.
Has the promotional trail for this film been exhausting?
The promotional trail has been great. I’ve got to meet a lot of cool people, travel and even meet other dog actors like Cosmo [another Jack Russell who featured in Mike Mills’ “Beginners”].
Do you think animals should be entitled to Best Supporting Actor Award nominations?
Yes! I think we should get recognized because it takes a lot of work – sometimes many years of set experience, following my masters cues without looking at the cameras, having patience when you get everything right and the director has to do 30 takes because the human is messing up. And to set the record straight it’s not just the sausages or hot dogs. Of course I have to get a reward! It took many years of training and experience to become a great studio dog.
Can we expect to see you in more movies soon?
You will have to talk to my agent about that.
The Artist is in cinemas from today.
Words: Seamus Duff