4 Secrets Behind the Production of Marley & Me

November 20th, 2014

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Marley & Me is one of the most successful Christmas films in the last 10 years, and it is also arguably one of the most critically praised “animal” films in recent memory. Marley & Me made waves and broke records at the box office, and it was also positively received by most critics. The film, which is adapted from a memoir of the same name, is often listed as one of the most heartwarming—and heartbreaking—dog movies of all time. But how much do you know about the production of Marley & Me? The following are 4 secrets that take you behind the scenes of the film!

Certain dog actors had to be specially trained to chew
There are many scenes in the film where Marley–both as a puppy and as an adult–chews on things that he shouldn’t, such as the cushions on the family’s couch, a baby’s car seat, and even kitchen tiles! However, it would not be safe to simply train the dogs to chew these objects because it could lead to choking or even swallowing toxic materials. Two specific dog actors—one a young puppy and one an older dog—were trained how to chew objects without actually swallowing them for these scenes.

marley-and-me-pup Trainers had to hide in back seats
During any scene where Marley was depicted in the family’s car, dog trainers had to be hidden inside the backseat to properly cue the dog for each scene. The cars would either be hooked up to a special camera trailer, which would recreate the effect of a moving car without requiring the car to actually move; or stationary with moving effects added in post-production; and, for one particular scene, the car was driven for a short distance. Each time, the trainers would be hiding inside to provide the Marley actor with the right cues.

The “extra dogs” included some normal dogs
While some of the ‘extra dogs’ in the film–in other words, any dogs who were not playing the character of Marley–were trained acting dogs, some of them were just normal pet dogs accompanied by their real owners. The producers allowed owners to audition with their pets to appear in the film, provided that their dogs were on leashes or had undergone intense obedience training to reduce the risk of misbehavior during the shoot.

 

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