Did you see last year’s hit-movie The Artist?
If you did, you doubtless fell in love with its four-footed star, a rapscallion of a romantic leading man, er, dog, named Uggie. This Russell Terrier’s expressions are so priceless, they recall the immortal words of Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard‘s sepulchral silent-screen siren: “We didn’t need voices — we had faces.”
Many decades had elapsed between the silent film era and The Artist, which updated the silent movie genre for the 21st century and not only made a matinee idol out of Uggie, but rocketed him into the celebrity stratosphere. On Oct. 16, his tail-all memoir, Uggie: My Story, will be released by Gallery Books. We have a copy of it that we’ll give to one lucky reader. Read on for details.
The book’s cover sports a suitably swanky still of the sexy beast; around his neck is a black silk bow tie anchored by a $60,000 bone-shaped charm, designed by famed French jeweler Chopard and engraved with the dog’s name. (After Uggie wore it, the bauble was auctioned for charity.)
Uggie is “delighted” with the book’s cover design, he informs Dogster through his ghost writer, Wendy Holden. “Although,” he adds, “it was a tough decision to choose from the hundreds of photos of moi taken over the years. The truth is I rarely look anything but adorable in pictures, although some would say that I sit on my best side!”
But don’t just judge this book by its cover. It’s also a rollicking romp of a read — and it’s dedicated “to Reese,” as in Witherspoon, Uggie’s co-star in his previous film Water for Elephants.
Of all the perks that came with canine celebrity, what’s been Uggie’s favorite thus far? “That’s a hard one. Cookies fashioned in my image? Five-star hotels? Sending p-mails on the red carpet? No, it would have to be meeting and falling for the great love of my life, Reese Witherspooon — oh, and French-kissing Betty White!”
In the silent spotlight, a powerful performance by a talented canine actor can really knock a picture out of the park. To quote Norma Desmond again (from the musical version of Sunset), “With one look, I can break your heart.”
There are no Oscars for dog performers, alas, so Uggie didn’t experience the honor of being nominated by the Academy. That’s OK — the “Consider Uggie” campaign garnered 20,000-plus “Likes” on Facebook and, Uggie dishes, “there are already moves a-paw to try to get me considered for a special award next year. I try to stay humble in the face of all this public adoration, but the truth is, I worked as hard as any human actor on The Artist, and taught them a thing or two about the craft of silent movie-making. I have a Palm Dog [the canine equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival’s coveted top prize, the Palme d’Or] but an Oscar would sure look good on my grand piano!”
Of all the actors in the cinema pantheon, of any species, whose work does Uggie most admire? That he answers without a second’s hesitation: Moose, the Russell who played Eddie on TV’s Frasier. “He is a personal hero of mine, not least because he suggested using sardine oil for licking scenes — yum! But his ability to out-stare a human is legendary and he was the first to give Jack Russell ‘Terrorists’ a good name.”
Speaking of terrorists, er, Terriers, being born an earthdog is a lucky accident indeed, which doubtless gave Uggie an unfair dose of canine charisma. “I was blessed with fine Terrier lines, innate good looks, natural charisma, and charm aplenty, and, yes, it gives me an unfair advantage over many,” he says. “But this is a dog-eat-dog business. Even George Clooney recognizes my superior qualities, but he is man enough to know when he’s beat and agreed to pose with me at the Oscar roundtable.”
What advice would Uggie give to young pups who hope to follow in his paw-prints? “Work out your sausage quota early on and stick to it. Remember, an agent is the guy who resents the 80 percent of his income that you take; 20 percent of sausages is a lot to give up after a hard day on the set!”
Uggie is an Aquarian and proud of it. Where did this dog star develop his keen interest in the zodiac? “Watching an astrology channel on daytime TV with my frat brother Gordo on the new plasma I bought the family,” he says. “I am an Aquarian by birth and nature, and so is my agent and acting coach Omar Von Muller. Together, we rock!”
Of late, Uggie experienced some health challenges due to a neurological condition, but he overcame them. How has this affected his daily routine? “I am still so busy I don’t have a routine, but there’s now a rider in my contracts that I must have more rest periods between engagements, for which I am truly grateful. My snoring is well-documented, however, so they have to park my air-conditioned trailer way away from the rest!”
His handlers have, wisely, adjusted Uggie’s diet to be more health-conscious — and Uggie has adjusted to the new spa cuisine with characteristic aplomb. “My personal preference for pizza and sausages has got me into some trouble in the past,” he confesses, “and Omar now mostly feeds me a raw food diet of meat and vegetables, all ground up into a delicious pink and green mush. But I still get to have my treats, and when traveling first class, I am offered everything from Kobe beef to champagne!”
As for Uggie’s off-set activities? “I do a lot of doga, usually lying full stretch in front of the plasma.”
Win a copy of Uggie’s book
To win a copy of Uggie: My story, leave a comment below answering the following question: If your dog wrote a book, what would it say? The story we like best will be the winner.
To be eligible, you must use your Disqus account to comment below. Creating a profile and avatar takes just a minute, and is a great way to participate in Catster’s community of people who are passionate about cats. (And note that if your Disqus account doesn’t contain a valid e-mail address, you can’t win because we can’t contact you. So please check your account.)
We’ll notify the winner by e-mail, and you have two days to respond before we choose someone else.
The deadline is 12 noon PST on Monday, Oct. 22. Good luck!