A Minute With: Uggie, scene-stealing star of "The Artist"

Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:03am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - At 10 years old, Uggie has a long show business resume. But it wasn't until the lively Jack Russell terrier landed the role of sidekick to actor Jean Dujardin in silent film "The Artist" that he hit the big time.

The scene-stealing star of Hollywood's awards season talked with Reuters (via one of his trainers, Sarah Clifford) about the art of animal acting, being snubbed by the Oscars and why "The Artist" is probably his last big movie.

Q: How are you handling the spotlight right now?

A: "It is so amazing ... I have never experienced it before. I have been doing this for 10 years and we have never had a dog get this popular off of one project."

Q: How did this role come about?

A: "When we got the script for the artist, saying it called for a really talented Jack Russell, I thought Uggie is the dog for this movie. There is no other dog who can do this. This dog has to perform really big circusy tricks and perform with this guy on stage and this dog is a star. Uggie has those qualities more than any other dog that I knew of. Jack Russells are real high energy dogs and he had just finished 'Water for Elephants' so he was right up to date on his training."

Q: But surely he had to audition?

A: "He definitely had to audition. At first we sent them (the producers) some videos and didn't hear back for a month and I thought they had found someone else. And then the directors were flying to L.A. and wanted to meet Uggie for an audition. They came with a little camcorder. We showed them Uggie's tricks -- playing dead, skateboarding, all his high energy tricks. And you could tell they were very impressed ... And then we didn't hear back for like three to four weeks. And then we got the callback saying they would like to hire Uggie. It was a long process but we were thrilled."   Continued...