How the Cats Were Trained for ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Inside-llewyn-davis-catAnyone who has worked with animals on a set or stage will tell you that training a dog for a scene is one thing. Training a cat is another matter entirely — just ask the animal trainers for this year’s Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  So there were certainly some issues when the Coen brothers decided that a lost cat would play a central role in the plot of Inside Llewyn Davis — in fact, Joel Coen admits that the cat was added to the film to give the movie about a drifting folk musician some “plot.”

The three tabbies used to portray Ulysses were trained by Dawn Barkan, who has also handled the animals for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Meet the Parents, Runaway Bride, and many others, including this year’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  In fact, two of Barkan’s own three cats were among the many cats who portrayed Mr. Jinx in Meet the Parents, although the cat that was trained to flush the toliet has since passed.

However, even a veteran like Barkan saw challenges with Inside Llewyn Davis.  She explains, “Much of what was scripted is a scary thing for a cat.  [But the Coens have] worked with animals in just about every film they’ve done, so they had an idea of what it takes.”

The film’s three cats — the production started with five, but two were fired for “temperament” issues — were specialized for certain roles during filming.  Tigger was used as the “holding” cat that Oscar Isaac carried around.  Jerry was the “action” cat because he was successful at following directions when treats were offered.  The final cat used was Daryl, who was used during what Barkan calls “hairier situations,” like the subway scenes because of Daryl’s even temper.  However, Barkan reveals that during one subway scene a nervous Daryl nicked star Oscar Isaac in the face.  She recalls, “For weeks, I said it wasn’t a good idea to shoot in a live subway station.  An actor getting scratched, I don’t ever want that to happen.”

Though Barkan was obviously upset about Isaac getting nicked, she points out that it’s part of the job.  She says, “[Actors] can make life easier or more difficult, but they’re just a prop. The animals are working for the trainer.”

Leave it to an animal trainer to refer to the human actors as the props in a scene, right?

via Vulture

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/director-david-gordon-greene-nar.jpg
Director David Gordon Green Narrates a Scene From ‘Joe’
Director David Gordon Green narrates a sequence from his new film, Joe, featuring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. In the video, he mentions his reasons why he likes to hire non-traditional actors. He likes people who have real skill-sets and not actors who have the skills on their resume. He also talked about this in […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/david-gordon-green-joe.jpg
Director David Gordon Green: “I find actors in unusual places”
I keep missing screenings of director David Gordon Greene‘s new film, Joe. I hear it’s really good so I’m looking forward to catching it at some point. Joe stars Nicholas Cage as ex-con Joe Ransom, who isn’t the greatest of role models until he meets a 15-year-old boy (Mud‘s Tye Sheridan). In this featurette, Green […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/judy-greer-i-dont-know-why-you-know-me-from.jpg
Please Don’t Say These Things To Judy Greer (video)
Judy Greer - who we love here at Daily Actor – has a new book called, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From (Confessions of a Co-Star), a series of essays about her life as an actress, friend and someone who everyone thinks they might know. Here’s a blurb about the book: “Want to […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Captain-America-SamuelNick-Fury.jpg
How Samuel L. Jackson Learns His Lines for the Marvel Movies (video)
Samuel L. Jackson stopped by Good Morning America earlier this week to talk about Captain America: The Winter Soldier – which is terrific, by the way – and he told Robin Roberts that for the first Cap film, he had trouble learning his lines. “I sat at home and I did all my studying, and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/andy-karl-margot-seibert-rocky.jpg
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert Talk ‘Rocky: The Musical’ on ‘Today’
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert, the stars of Rocky: The Musical, talked to Today‘s Matt Lauer about the new Broadway musical. Karl talks about the final fight and taking on the iconic role. This is Seibert’s Broadway debut and she’s asked about her callbacks (9 in all!) and more. Check it out!