Jen told the Los Angeles Times that three separate people, including her father, had given her the book by John Grogan (that the movie is based on) last Christmas but she was not expecting it to be a page-turner.
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“I thought, ‘This isn’t a book I’m going to sit down and read, because it’s got a dog on the cover,’” she said. “I don’t know why I had that weird prejudice against it.”
The actress wasn’t initially sold when she got the script either.
“I was like ‘Uck, a dog movie?’” she told the paper, but quickly changed her mind after reading it. “It’s so much more than a dog movie, it’s this beautiful portrait of a marriage and this 15-year span between these two people and this sweet little unconditionally loving creature that sort of walks through it with them.”
The “loving creature,” is a yellow lab named Clyde, whose acting style took some getting used to, according to the actress.
“I walked onto the set and put my sweater and my bag down on the couch, and that dog leapt up onto the couch, grabbed my sweater and started ripping it,” Jen told the paper.
Instead of the dog’s trainers telling the dog to stop, they rewarded Clyde for a job well done.
“They said, ‘Good, good boy!’ and gave him treats.” She said. “The set was a toy.”
Jen worked with Clyde, and 21 other rambunctious dogs, alongside co-star Owen Wilson, with whom Jen adored working.
“Owen Wilson is so divine in this film,” she said. “I’ve never seen him play a part like this. He was a man; he was a husband; he was a father. And I feel like, ‘How brave of him, to walk through the year that he walked through…’ He has no temper, no ego, he’s collaborative and funny and sweet.”
And as for the old movie adage that children and animals are hard to work with, not so on “Marley and Me,” according to Jen. The actress said she couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
“It was perfect. Everybody was in love with everybody,” Jen said. “When you actually can have [the finished film] be as fantastic and fulfilling as the experience itself was, it’s called a home run. A creative, emotional home run. Those moments don’t happen that often.”