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The first trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum introduced us to Halle Berry's character, Sofia, who, like John Wick, also appears to be a dog lover. But her dogs are not just companions. They're also protectors, and we see them charging into battle alongside Sofia and John, a.k.a. Baba Yaga. For that, John Wick 3 required the dogs to be trained for those kinds of stunts, and part of that task fell to Halle Berry herself, as director Chad Stahelski explained:
We didn't want a trainer hiding behind a set piece or a prop or something like that. We wanted Halle---or, Sofia, our character---to be our on-screen dog trainer. So it wasn't acting like these were her dogs, these actually were her dogs. When we cast Halle we had the big talk. Halle actually came, after all her fight rehearsals and gun rehearsals, she would go sit, and work, and play with the dogs for months on end so the dogs on-screen actually obey Halle. They're not looking at a trainer. That was really fun.
The filmmakers could have just used a carefully hidden trainer to issue commands to the dogs, but instead they went with a more method approach by having the dogs be trained by the actress playing the character who owns them in the film. In that way, the dogs would actually respond to Halle Berry onscreen while filming and would be looking to her for direction instead of a trainer hidden behind a potted plant.
To achieve this, Halle Berry had to train the dogs to be comfortable around her and, as Chad Stahelski told Collider, that meant spending a lot of time with them for months building that rapport. The Oscar-winning actress worked and played with the five Belgian Malinois and five Belgian Shepherds so that they essentially became her dogs.
Game of Thrones wolf trainer Andrew Simpson was the dog coordinator on John Wick 3. He was responsible for the casting of the dogs and their training for these kinds of stunts, but when the cameras were rolling, they looked to Halle Berry for guidance and obeyed her.
So in addition to all of the gun and fight training and rehearsals, Halle Berry had the arduous task of working with and playing with dogs. It's kind of funny how Chad Stahelski said that when they cast Halle Berry, they had to have "the big talk." That ominous phrase was not about going through some intense physical transformation or filming an uncomfortable scene, but like 'Hey, are you okay playing with dogs?' As filming experiences go, that has to be a highlight.
Beyond just being fun for the actress, this can only enhance the film. Sofia's dogs in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum will seem incredibly loyal to her because they actually are. The dogs will really be taking her direction and their bond will be genuine.
Dogs have always an important part of the John Wick franchise, acting as both the catalyst for the story and companions to Keanu Reeves' character, but they have never been a big part of the action. So it will be great to see them finally take more of an active role this time around. Of course, that also means we'll all be worried about something bad happening to them getting every minute of the film. That alone sets up this third chapter to be the most intense one yet.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum opens in theaters on May 17. For all of this year's biggest movies, check out our release schedule.