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There's an old Hollywood adage that one should never work with dogs or children. The idea is that dogs and children are cute, and will naturally upstage whoever they share a scene with. However, there can sometimes be other problems with making movies with dogs, as Helle Berry somewhat hilariously discovered on the set of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.
Halle Berry discusses in the special features of the John Wick: Chapter 3 Blu-ray that she worked quite closely with the dogs that play her pets in the film. She even gained the ability to command them on set so that no other trainer was necessary. However, while filming scenes in North Africa, there was one problem that kept causing the dogs to go off script, cats. According to Berry...
There's cats everywhere and when my dogs saw cats they went ballistic. We'd be in the middle of a scene and all of the sudden, a cat would come strolling by and off goes the dog. Because at the end of the day they're animals and nature says, you know, go get that cat.
One can only imagine how frustrating, though also sort of hilarious, it was to try to film an intricately choreographed fight scene only to have the dogs stop whatever they were supposed to be doing to chase a cat. Apparently, stray cats are quite prevalent in Casablanca, Morocco where the movie was filming, so this was an ongoing problem.
One can just picture Halle Berry and Keanu Reeves, armed with guns, going through these well defined action sequences, every step has been choreographed like a dance number, and then the dog is supposed to run in and do its thing, but instead it goes running after a cat, completely missing its mark.
The production tried to deal with the issue by having somebody sweep the set before each take, but, unfortunately, because of director Chad Stahelski's particular style of film-making, even that didn't always work. Berry continues...
Before every scene, somebody would come in and do a cat sweep and try to get all the cats out of the square, but Chad's takes are so long, inevitably, during a take, a cat would, you know, wander through the set, and then there goes the dog.
And of course, Chad Stahelski's trademark long takes meant that if the dog ruined the shot by going after a cat, the entire sequence had to be reset and started again. The good news, based on the finished film, is that eventually they got the shots they wanted. Some of the longer takes in all of John Wick Chapter 3 are during the Casablanca fight scene and include Halle Berry and the dogs.
The dogs of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum were clearly well trained, but at the end of the day you can't fight an animals nature. It seems that the ongoing battle of cat vs. dog will never truly come to an end.
Dogs are as important to the John Wick franchise as headshots and Keanu Reeves himself. One assumes that when John Wick: Chapter 4 comes along, they'll still play an important role, even if the production has to continue dealing with cats.