What interested you about doing this movie?
“I guess you could say that this story spoke to me personally with its emphasis on dogs, outdoor action and surviving the toughest of conditions. I took it as a great compliment when Frank Marshall came to me and said I seemed like the right person for the role. He told me it was going to be really intense and incredibly difficult, but it didn’t turn out that bad. I thought we’d have to endure days at 50 below, but we only got to 30 below.”
Was it tricky working with all those dogs?
“I have a link with animals. A girlfriend of mine told me that it had something to do with my birthday. She said that some Virgo’s, September 12th in particular, have a connection with domestic animals. Maybe it’s true because I understand animals and I have always had them. I actually relate and understand animals better than I do people. I’m dealing with 64 dogs in this movie, as each dog had seven doubles – and I knew them all by name. I knew each and every one of their personalities.”
Did you get to keep any of them?
“No. They were all spoken for. I wanted to go home with Jasper; he was Shortie in the film, the real squinty one. He’s the only white one, and he was the worst dog to work with. But he was the sweetest dog.”
Why was he the worst?
“He just never listened. He never hit his mark. He was always messing up the shot. He had real sensitive eyes. He was white with light blue eyes, and this was him in the snow [he squints and laughs]. So they would figure out ways to shuffle him out of the shot. Their teeth and tails were supposed to be down in the snow, because they were sad that I left them, and he [acted like] a knucklehead. He was the fastest one though. He was the most athletic one, and the sweetest one.”
What did you learn from making this movie?
“One thing that I learned is that when things get really miserable, when it’s cold and conditions are trying, you really see what people’s true colors are. And you also see how teamwork is so necessary to get through it all, which to me is one of the most important themes of the film – this idea that we can only make it through the tough times through love and friendship.”