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The right ingredients
Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston talk about dogs, kids, Marley & Me
At the film's London premiere
11.Feb.69, Sherman Oaks, California
|B Y R I C H C L I N E
Normally in London, interviews are conducted with filmmakers and actors through the fog of trans-Atlantic jetlag. So it felt like a bonus when Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston stroll into the room looking rested and relaxed. They've been travelling around Europe for a week or so and are now looking forward to going home. Jennifer is sleek and tanned; Owen is relaxed and a bit scruffy. And they must be relieved that, although they're known for their work in romantic-comedies, this film is neither: it's the story of the first 10 or so years of a growing family during the life of a rather spirited family pet. In other words, they violated both of the cardinal rules of moviemaking...
Was working with animals and children as difficult as they say?
Owen: They said I held them like a football.
What are your own experiences with family pets?
Jennifer: Are you serious? That's amazing.
Owen: Yeah, he could hold his breath. He was a chocolate brown Lab.
Jennifer: Oh I saw the pictures. A gorgeous dog! That's quite a talent. My dog, well, he didn't like me very much. I was so little, and my first dog Dimitri was a poodle. I used to think he was something I could play with and ride. But I couldn't.
Owen: You were trying to ride Dimitri?
Jennifer: I tried to ride Dimitri. And then no wonder when he bit me. I thought I'd never be a dog person and now I have two wonderful dogs, Norman and Dolly. It all turns out good in the end.
Owen: How did you get Dolly?
Jennifer: Dolly's a rescue from Mexico. We've got to talk!
No matter what you do, is it true that the dog's best take is the one they'll use?
Jennifer: Painful memories.
Owen: But actually, I don't remember that happening. Clyde was the main dog who played Marley and he was pretty consistent about misbehaving and doing stuff.
Jennifer: His misbehaving actually gave us more to play with. It was like working with a really great actor: the take was never the same twice!
Owen: It was sort of like the crew, the director, everyone's waiting. I'd say my line and now is he going to pick up that - yes, he's got it! So I'll say my other line now.
Why do you think there's such a unique bond between man and dog?
Owen: At least that's what they make you think!
Jennifer: They couldn't be happier.
Owen: But out of all the animals from way back in history, humans and dogs were kind of, "OK, check these guys out over here." And we kind of ended up kind of domesticating dogs. I don‚Äôt know. Dolphins seem like they'd be great, but what are you going to do with one?
Jennifer: Or monkeys.
Owen: Yeah, but I've been around monkeys in movies a couple of times.
Jennifer: Don't they throw stuff?
Owen: Yeah, they're not that impressed with us. Dongs seem a little more worshipful. And it's kind of nice to be worshipped.
Now that you've both played journalists, do you have more respect for us?
Owen: I didn't have like a lack of respect going into the film anyway.
Would you trade jobs with one?
Jennifer: Yes, I'm very happy doing my job.
Owen, you have a very emotional scene at the end, which isn't something you usually do in films.
Owen: When you see it on the script, you're like, "OK, this scene's coming up this week." You're going to have to get a little bit emotional, and I'm not like a trained actor, being able to change your voice and get emotional. That's what actors do. In another movie, I remember was supposed to get emotional, and I wasn't able to. And they had to bring out this stuff they blow in your eyes, it's like spearmint. But the situation was so implausible that I was supposed to be upset about. It was in I Spy, and I was like, "I don't think this is going to save the movie, having me squeeze out a few tears here." So for this one I was a little nervous, but then they had the dog Copper, who plays the old Marley, and he came on set and it was hard not to get emotional because he's just a really old dog. Your heart goes out to him. So it wasn't hard. I felt like, "Yeah, I can do this!"
Jennifer: See, you are an actor!
Did you have a favourite among the dogs that played Marley?
Owen: They said it was Clyde but I'm not so sure.
Jennifer: That was Clyde!
Owen: I had seen one earlier on the street earlier that day - a white lab that was drafted into service.
Why do you think this kind of film resonates with audiences?
Do you prefer the independent films to the big-budget studio movies?
Are you looking for something different with your next project?
Jennifer: The right ingredients! But we won't be doing dog movies right up next.
DORCHESTER, LONDON, 2.MAR.09
© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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