In case you couldn't tell by the title, dogs are a pretty crucial part of the new movie Dog Days. The movie weaves together five different stories set in Los Angeles, and one key thing all of them have in common is a special four-legged friend. This obviously made it very important for the production to find the best of the best when it came to animal talent -- and director Ken Marino recently told me that they were so key that they came on-board before any of the human stars:

I met some animal trainers, dog trainers, and we hired this guy, Mark Gordon, and he was great! And I said, 'Who you are your rock stars? Who are the dogs you're like, 'There's something special about this dog.' And so he immediately showed me a picture of the dog that plays Charlie, whose name I'm forgetting right now, but a great dog - the Goldendoodle. He was just quirky and weird and funny and awkward, and perfect. So I was like, 'Well, tell me the things that he does, and we'll write towards that.' And then we sort of started casting around that dog. The dogs were actually cast before the human actors were cast.

Dog Days held its domestic press junket this past week in Los Angeles, and it was during my sit down with Ken Marino that I learned about the unique casting strategy that the romantic comedy took collecting its ensemble. Evidently the film found it necessary to not only prioritize getting the dogs before bringing in the humans, but they even had an important impact on the script -- as their special abilities wound up dictating what they would ultimately be doing in the story.

The dog Ken Marino singles out, Charlie, is the one that is paired with Adam Pally's character, Dax, in the film. Dax is a lazy, irresponsible layabout, and he finds his lifestyle upended when his sister (Jessica St. Clair) and her husband (Thomas Lennon) have twins and need him to take care of their pet. It's a problematic situation because Dax lives in a building with a "no animals" policy, but also because Charlie is the kind of dog who does what he wants when he wants to: he'll flop right on top of Dax at a random moment, take forever on walks sniffing things, and wake him up early in the morning. It's definitely a part that requires a trained animal, and the dog that plays Charlie does a wonderful job.

You can watch Ken Marino talk about the process of casting the dogs of Dog Days by clicking play on the video below:

In addition to its collection of canine actors, Dog Days stars Nina Dobrev, Tone Bell, Adam Pally, Vanessa Hudgens, Jon Bass, Ron Cephas Jones, Finn Wolfhard, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tig Notaro, and more, and arrives in theaters this weekend.

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