Among cinema lovers, few know that the award for best animal-acting performance exists and that it’s called the PATSY Award. There are so many animal actors we’ve loved on screen and it can be said that sometimes they even overthrew their human co-stars. Some of those sweet creatures were so exceptional in their roles that a thousand treats and cuddles are not enough to reward them.
At Bright Side we selected the most adorable and memorable animal moments featured on screen and we present them to you. Each and every one of them became famous for their unique talent and look. Enjoy!
1. Hachi the Akita, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Hachi: a Dog’s Tale is probably one of the saddest pet movies, especially since it is based on a true story, starring Forrest the Akita and Richard Gere as professor Parker Wilson. The role was actually played with 3 different Akitas, Chico, Layla, and Forrest, but the last one was the main star.
The famous dog actor was born in 2004 and passed in 2017 living the life of a star. Wherever he went, everyone loved him. Except for Hachi, Forrest also appeared in an episode of Animal Planet’s Dogs 101- Akita, as his owner Joey Capaldi says, along with a cameo in a TV commercial for a local Delaware finance company.
2. Hooch the Dog, Turner & Hooch
Beasley the dog was the Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff) that played the role of Hooch in the 1989 movie Turner & Hooch starring Tom Hanks. Beasley only starred in this one movie and became famous for his police-dog-drinking-beer character.
Beasley, along with 3 other mastiffs that stunted him in some scenes, were so loved by the cast. As Tom Hanks says in an interview when asked about Hooch: “All the dogs who played Hooch — all 4 of them — went to dog heaven.” This fluffy buddy was born in 1978 and died in 1992, living a full life — since the average life expectancy of his breed is only 5 to 8 years, but he lived to be 14.
3. Lion cub, The Zookeeper’s Wife
The movie The Zookeeper’s Wife is based on the true story of Antonina Zabinska and Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo in Poland. The filming actually took place at the zoo in Prague. Jessica Chastain, who plays Antonina, the zookeeper’s wife in the movie, said that she loved acting with her co-star lions and all the animals in the film. In an interview where she was asked whether she was afraid of them, she said, “…if I were to ever get hurt in this movie, it’s because I’m doing something wrong. It’s not the animals’ fault — it’s my fault.”
Even though her favorite animal was an elephant named Lily, the lions were really well behaved and “It wasn’t that we were leading them, they were leading us,” she added.
4. Buddy, A Dog’s Journey
Odin, the mixed breed Great Pyrenees Mountain dog that plays Buddy in the movie A Dog’s Journey is more than lovable. The character was actually portrayed by 3 different dogs, but Odin is the main star. Everyone adored him on the set since, as the director said, “Odin is a sweetheart.”
Also, as his trainer Bonnie Judds revealed, in contrast to the other dogs on the set, Odin, despite his huge and fluffy looks wasn’t in it for the treats, but more for the cuddling “he would do almost anything for a big bear hug!” She also said that before filming, Odin moved-in to her farm in Vancouver for his training and he really loved it. Because of his size, Bonnie said, “The scene where he had to jump off of Dennis’ back and catch a ball was done by Odin’s sister, who’s much smaller.”
5. Joey, War Horse
In the film War Horse, the 4-legged leading character, Joey, was actually played by 14 different horses depending on the age, the stage, and the scene. However, Finder, an 11-year-old Bay Thoroughbred Gelding then, was the main horse star. Steven Spielberg, the director of War Horse, admitted that Finder didn’t listen to him but that his trainer, Bobby Lovgren, was there to help.
He used to be a racehorse but wasn’t successful and luckily he turned to acting. As a film veteran, he has stared in movies like Legend Of Zorro, Did You Hear About The Morgans, Unstoppable and the American TV crime series CSI Miami. His most recent work was on Netflix’s Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
Bobby Lovgren met Finder on the War Horse set and he bought him from the producers. They’ve been inseparable ever since, living their life on Bobby’s range in California.
6. The Monkey, Night at the Museum
Crystal the Monkey is actually a well-known pet actress. She is a female capuchin monkey born in 1994 and started her acting career in 1997 filming the movie George of the Jungle. Ever since, she’s made several appearances in Hollywood movies with her best shots being the role of Dexter in Night at the Museum beside Robin Williams, and that of a thieving monkey in Hangover Part II.
Even though Crystal looks adorable, her co-star, Williams, didn’t seem to get along well with her. “It combines the worst aspects of working with children and animals when you have an animal that looks like a child,” he said one time when the monkey peed on him. Ben Stiller once joked in an interview that she should definitely be nominated for an Oscar.
7. Molly the Beagle, A Dog’s Journey
One of the dog characters in the movie A Dog’s Journey is Molly, played by a beagle named Lemy. The role was played by 2 beagles, but Lemy is the actual star. Her trainer Bonnie Judd reveals that the most difficult scene was to teach her how to bite, when her character, Molly, needed to “bite” the leg of the film’s villain. As the trainer said “It’s kind of like a piñata. The more they go at it, the more they get.”
Lemy and Abby Ryder Fortson, the young actor playing Young CJ, became best friends during filming. Fortson said in an interview that it was challenging to work with Lemy because of all the funny things she did. “My favorite part is when she knocked me down and started licking my face”, the actress said.
8. Jack the Parsons Russell Terrier, The Artist
Uggie was the cute Parsons Russell Terrier best known for his role as Jack in the silent movie The Artist for which he was even awarded with the Cannes Film Festival Palm Dog Award. Since 2005, when he started his career, he’s starred in several movies like Wassup Rockers, Water for Elephants, and his last one, Holiday Road Trip.
One of his trainers in The Artist, Clifford, joked that working with him was pretty easy because the film was silent and she could call out commands while the film was rolling. His performance in this movie was actually so good that people even created a campaign on Facebook called “Consider Uggie” where they tried to gain recognition for Uggie’s performance in contrast with Hollywood stars.
Uggie was born in 2002 and died in 2015. And there was even a memoir that was published under the title Uggie, My Story.
9. Lassie the Rough Collie, Lassie
Lassie is probably one of the most famous animal-roles ever. Pal, who lived a full 18 years life, was a male Rough Collie that trained by Rudd Weatherwax to portray the role of the female dog, Lassie. His first owner, Howard Peck, brought Pal to Rudd because of his continuous barking and chasing of motorbikes. Even though he got the barking under control, the chasing was never fixed and Howard decided to give Pal to Rudd who gave it to a friend.
When the novel Lassie Come-Home was published, Rudd bought Pal back from his friend for $10, believing that the dog could be a movie star. When the movie was filmed, a female dog was cast, but Rudd showed up with Pal in order to show the producers his talent. In a river scene, when the female collie refused to get in the water, Pal stepped in and performed so exceptionally that the director had “tears in his eyes” and of course hired him.
Everyone loved Pal and that’s perfectly portrayed in a dedicated documentary on Lassie’s life with the title The Story of Lassie, as an episode of the series Hollywood Biography.
10. The little pig, Babe
Looking back at his career, the famous actor James Cromwell who starred in Babe said that, “That pig changed my life… and gave me a career,” talking about the little pig from the movie where he was nominated for an Oscar award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
The thing is that for the role of Babe, 48 different piggies performed because baby pigs grow really fast. They were all cutie pies though and the cast loved every single one of them!
11. Benji the Dog, Benji
Higgins was the star of the famous 70s family film, Benji, where he played the main character. He lived a full and happy life from 1957 to 1975 when he passed away the age of 17. He was found in 1960 by his about-to-be life partner and trainer Frank Inn in an animal shelter in Los Angeles.
His first role was “the dog” in the series Petticoat Junction, and he even won a Patsy Award for his performance in 1967. Inn said that Higgins was the smartest dog he knew, and was able to learn one new trick or routine per week. He even wrote a poem about Higgins called, “My Little Brown Dog” and requested to be buried with his dog’s ashes before he died. However, that wasn’t legally permitted.
Higgins had a very deep and affectionate connection with his co-star, Edgar Buchanan, in both the series and in Benji. After Higgins died, his daughter Benjean played his role as Benji in the sequel of the movie series, For the Love of Benji in 1977.
12. Bruiser, Legally Blonde
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With a sad heart, I have to let all the #LegallyBlonde fans know that Bruiser Woods (also known as Moonie) passed away yesterday. He was a sweet little Chihuahua who was very loved. I will never forget all the days we spent together … I'm sure his tail is wagging in the sky. Sending love to his trainer, the wonderful @tailsticks #RIPBruiser 💔
Moonie the Chihuahua was a very popular dog actor, best known for his role as Bruiser in the Legally Blonde movies beside Reese Witherspoon, who played Elle Woods. Moonie was found as a puppy by Hollywood animal trainer Sue Chipperton who trained him to be a star.
Aside from his role as Bruiser, he also starred in 2 TV series, Three Sisters and Providence, in several commercials, and he even appeared by Cher’s side in one of the singer’s music videos. He was adored by his fans and also his co-stars everywhere he went.
When he died of old age, in March 2016, Reese Witherspoon posted on her personal Instagram account about the sad news mentioning that, “He was a sweet little Chihuahua who was very loved. I will never forget all the days we spent together … I’m sure his tail is wagging in the sky.” Moonie even accompanied her when the famous actress received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010. Their friendship was forever.
13. Marcel the Monkey, Friends
Marcel the monkey who had a brief role in the most popular show of the 90s, Friends, was actually a female monkey named Katie. Katie also starred in NBC’s TV show 30Rock along with taking roles in several commercials and photoshoots.
During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel, Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey in the show, was asked about his relationship with Marcel and he said that he liked her a lot, “the monkey was really cool.” But David Schwimmer — Ross — wasn’t so fond of her. “Not again with the monkey,” he used to say as LeBlanc recalls.
The actor also remembers a scene when Katie suddenly disappeared into the ceiling, jumping from one light to another. It took the crew more than half an hour to bring her back by tricking her with mealworms, her ultimate delight.
14. Jerry Lee the police dog, K-9
Koton was a beloved German Shepherd and the dog that played Jerry Lee in the 1989 movie K-9. Koton was an actual police dog who worked with the Kansas City Police Department. Unfortunately, his tragic story follows the plot of the movie he starred in. In his career as a police dog, he had many successes. However, he was shot and killed during his attempt to bust a suspect for the murder of a police officer.
During an interview, Jim Belushi, who played detective Michael Dooley, and Koton’s owner, said it was great working with him and that it was nice that he had finally gotten the chance to make a movie his son could watch.
15. Lady the Dire-wolf, Game of Thrones
Zunni was the adorable wolf named Lady that accompanied Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. Zunni was a Northern Inuit, a giant breed, with a life expectancy of about 8 to10 years. Sophie Turner, the actress who played Sansa, actually adopted Zunni and made her a member of her family.
As she says in an interview, “Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one. We kind of fell in love with my character’s dire wolf, Lady, on set.” She later reveals that, because of Lady’s death on the series, the producers wanted to re-home her, but her mom as she said “persuaded” them to let us adopt her. Unfortunately, her furry friend died a few years later.
16. Willy the Orca, Free Willy
Keiko the Orca was one of the most well-known animal actors in Hollywood starring as Willy in the family movie Free Willy in 1993. Keiko was a male whale, born in 1978, but his story took a sad turn. He was first sold to the Icelandic aquarium in Hafnarfjörður, then sold to Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada where he was bullied by the other orcas and was then sent to an amusement park in Mexico City.
Warner Bros scouted him and made him a star. In 1995, they founded the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation and they raised money to actually free Keiko into the wild. When he was finally released to the ocean in Iceland in 2002 he didn’t make it in the wild environment because he was not able to adapt and was found dead in Norway’s fjords, hit by pneumonia in 2003. A documentary under the tile Keiko: The Untold Story was later released based on his life.
17. Daisy, John Wick
Andy, who plays Daisy in the movie John Wick Part I, is actually a male beagle and not a female, as the role he portrays. John Wick’s creators choose the cutest puppy in the world for a reason. As his trainer, Kim Krafsky says in an interview, “There’s this thing about them, they’re just cute. They’re not overly large or small. They’re just a cuddly breed with those big sad eyes.”
The trainer recalls that the hardest part was that of Omer Barnea’s role, one of the actors who plays a killer in the movie and has to mistreat the dog. The actor was having such a hard time that, “Every time the director yelled cut, Omer just picked up the dog and cuddled him.” Even though he was just a puppy when he starred in the film, Andy, got so much attention and love from fans. However, he hasn’t played in any other roles yet.
We hope that you enjoyed these revealing stories about our beloved Hollywood animals. Do you have a pet? Would you ever think they could star in a movie or a TV show? Show us pictures of your pet’s artistic side in the comments.
Preview photo credit Hachi: a Dog’s Tale / Stage 6 Films