Any film starring award-winning actor Christopher Plummer is going to be at the top of my must-watch list. Somehow his always-tremendous on-screen appeal has only grown with time. Add Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor to the marquee and I’m buying my tickets early.
But tell me the movie also co-stars a rescued Jack Russell terrier with the most soul-melting eyes, and I’m first in line.
Writer/director Mike Mills’ magical film, Beginners, opens in select theaters June 3. It’s an enchanting, sometimes hilarious, sometimes-Kleenex-worthy look at how love evolves over time. The film has a surprise element, but I’m not going to review the film here or go into details, because this is Dogster.com, not RogerEbert.com. (Note that it is rated R, and may not be for all Dogsters.)
But because we’re Dogster, we do get certain privileges to share with our loyal Dogsters. And today we bring you an exclusive sneak peek at the dog who stars in Beginners. The people at Focus Features have given Dogster first dibs on showing a fun behind-the-scenes video (below) that features actors on the set getting to know and working with Cosmo, the immensely talented and soulful Jack Russell terrier co-star of the film.
About the Canine Co-Star
This isn’t Cosmo’s first role on the big screen. He made his movie debut in the lead role of Friday in Hotel for Dogs, opposite Emma Roberts. Many of you saw this and enjoyed it, from what I recall. He was also in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. This probably isn’t something he likes to brag about.
Cosmo is 9 years old. He was rescued from a shelter a few years ago by Beginners head animal trainer Mathilde de Cagny, and lives with her and her family. de Cagny is no stranger to training Jack Russells for acting roles: She nurtured another Jack Russell terrier, Moose, in his role as Eddie through all 11 seasons of the television series Frasier.
Cosmo is normally all white, but some doggy-safe dye made him the spotty fellow you’ll see in the preview. He immediately bonded with McGregor. I loved working with Cosmo,” McGregor says. “Its tough, though, because you develop a bond with this wee dog, and then you have to say goodbye. (A little back story: He said good-bye to Cosmo, and went right out and rescued a dog from a shelter. Woot!)
Not Your Average Talking Dog (thank heavens)
Writer/director Mills, as a lifelong lover of dogs, decided early on that McGregor’s character, Oliver, and Cosmo’s character, Arthur, would converse — but via subtitles. Mills and the actors spent a great deal of time discussing what it meant to talk to the dog not in a cute way, or even as an animal but more as if conversing with another person. I’m sure that resonates with a lot of us here.
The subtitle technique works beautifully in the film. When Cosmo/Arthur “talks,” it’s not hackneyed in the least. You don’t wince. I’m personally pretty tired of dogs who talk in movies or commercials, especially when their lips move via CGI. Give me a dog with knowing eyes over a dog with a flapping mouth any day.
When Jake “talks” to me, he doesn’t utter a word. His lips don’t move. But he speaks volumes without saying a thing. He’s a sounding board of sorts, my wiser half. That’s the role Mills has Cosmo/Arthur play, and it’s perfect. Anyone who has ever talked to a dog will love it.
Below is Dogster’s exclusive sneak peek. Be sure to tell friends about it: You’ll be the first on the block with the inside scoop! And keep your nose to the ground, because on Monday, June 13, we’re going to tell you about a contest where you’ll be able to share your own dog’s adoption story. Three winners will get a sketch of their dogs by director/writer Mike Mills himself. (Apparently he has another forward slash to his talents. Director/writer/artist.)