Family adventure movie Max is out June 26th in theaters, and one of its stars might just win an Arfcademy Award. The film tells the gripping tail of a military dog who returns home to the States after the death of his beloved handler in Afghanistan.
The title character of Max was played by five different Belgian Malinois pups, but one canine in particular had a breakout performance. 3-year-old Carlos (named for Carlos Hathcock, a Vietnam War sniper) was discovered on a farm by animal coordinator Mark Forbes.
Carlos’ unique light-colored facial markings make his eyes stand out, so it’s easier to “read” his expressions. His four canine co-stars had their facial fur (carefully) dyed to resemble Carlos’ mug. I guess it beats hours in the makeup chair every day….
Each of the other four dogs had their own special area of expertise. Jagger was Carlos’ primary double and understudy. Pax appeared in most running shots, and, according to trainer Mathilde de Cagny, was “good at showing his teeth.” A dog named Dude was a whiz at jumping, and Pilot was the stage-combat expert, specializing in play-fighting and knocking over human actors.
Max is a handful for the younger brother of the dead soldier, who takes on the task of rehabilitating the grieving pup. Turns out Carlos was nearly as challenging to work with as the fictional dog.
Director Boaz Yakin said:
“The only problem was that Carlos was very temperamental. But (the trainers) felt they could work with him. We based the character Max on Carlos. When you see Max onscreen, 80% of the time it’s Carlos. Carlos would do everything right in rehearsal. But when we’d start shooting, he’d do something else. It could drive you nuts. But a lot of times, the things Carlos did wrong were so interesting they got in the movie.”
Even still, Carlos and his fellow dog actors pulled off a really great performance. Check out the preview and be sure and catch Max when it hits theaters!