Izumi Hasegawa: How did this movie come along for each of you guys?
Jake T. Austin: Well, I have an agent so I got the script, and I really felt it was a great character. I read for it, and I was lucky enough to get it and do the screen test with Emma.
Emma Roberts: I got the script sent to me and they offered me the role, and I was just like, “Yeah, I think this is a great project.” Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, and Kevin Dillon are all actors that I really admire, so it was something I just wanted to do.
IH: What about the dogs?
JA: Going into it, I didn't really know what to expect because I'd never previously worked with animals. It turned out being a great experience. I learned a lot about how they work on movie sets as opposed to reality. For the most part, they were very professional. They had their moments, but we'll put those aside.
ER: I didn't know what to expect either, and at times you were just overwhelmed, but it was fun.
IH: Did you have to make any adjustments in your performance when you're dealing with the dogs?
ER: You have to be prepared for anything, like, “Take it back a line,” or, “We're going to take it from the top. We're just going to run two, one after the other.” So you definitely have to be ready for someone to just tell you what to do right on the spot.
JA: As an actor, there are so many things that went in a different direction than how we intended, so you just had to go along with it. I remember I fell in a couple of scenes and they didn't call "cut," so I'd just get up and play with it, and continue throughout the scene. IH: It must feel good when you're playing second fiddle to all these dogs...
JA: At times, we were outnumbered, so of course. Outnumbered by, like, 40.
IH: Did you guys have a favorite dog?
JA: I did. The Mastiff, Lenny, was my absolute favorite.
ER: My favorite was Shep, the Sheepdog. I think it was a boy. It was the smartest and the prettiest.
IH: It must have gotten confusing when you were trying to interact with the dog and the dog is looking over your shoulder at the trainer.
JA: That's why we had to do a lot of post-production. We had to do a lot of ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement, ie: dubbing) work -- we had to overlap our lines because there was either barking or trainers yelling, or Thor [Freudenthal] the director screaming and howling!
IH: I like the fun inventions in this film. What's you guys' favorite and the reason?
JA: My favorite is the simulator where the dogs are hanging out the window. I thought that was the most creative and one of the most honest inventions, because whenever a dog is in a car, that's the first thing they do.
ER: My favorite was the shoe vending machine. Every time, I just laugh. IH: Do you guys have a pet -- a dog -- in real life?
ER: Yeah, I have a Chihuahua named Twiggy, and I have a cat named Stranger. It showed up at our house one day and just decided to live there.
JA: That's a great name for it. I have a zoo at my house. I have three goats, which we inherited with the property, and two dogs -- miniature Poodles.
IH: Those goats were abandoned like these dogs were?
JA: Yeah, we took them over and it's been a crazy experience.
IH: Can you train goats?
JA: You can. We didn't really bother with that part. We just feed them and hang out with them. We don't really get too serious with it.
IH: Could you tell us more experiences in your relationship with your dogs?
JA: I could relate having dogs in my real life to Bruce having dogs in the movie.
IH: Do you walk them and clean up after them?
JA: Pooping -- that's not my department. I'm more like feeding and walking and making sure they don't escape or get out, leave the property. That's my parents'.
ER: Yeah, I just play with the dog. Sometimes I have to clean up after it because my mom makes me, but my sister takes care of it mostly. She's eight and she walks around with that dog under her arm all day long and pushes it in all her baby carriages, and dresses it up and she kisses it on the mouth and loves the dog.
JA: Oh, I can't do that.
ER: She's like, “They have the cleanest mouth,” so I was like, “I don't know about that.”
ER: Yeah, Mythbusters! And then my dog is eating it's own poo and Grace was like, “Oh, maybe it's not the cleanest mouth.” I was like, “Yeah, I don't think so, Grace.”
IH: What was the trickiest sequence you guys had to shoot?
ER: I would say the scene with Lisa Kudrow and our dog. We're trying to hide the dog when it's walking around Lisa in the kitchen, because that scene -- we were shooting it in a studio and the walls in the studio weren't moveable, like most sets. You can get the camera in there. Permanent set, four pages of action and dialogue, plus you have three actors, a dog, and it was just so insane and it took a day and a half.
JA: And the set was small too.
IH: Do you have any theories why dog movies are so popular as family films?
ER: Everyone loves dogs. JA: I think a lot of families have dogs, and I've never met a dog-hater.
ER: It's a common interest too. It's like one of those things where, even if you don't have one, or even if two people are completely opposite, you can bond over just the fact that you have a dog too. A simple bond, and I just feel like this dog movie is really special. None of the dogs die in it.
IH: Emma, is this your first time in the romantic sequence going on in the film?
ER: Oh no, I'm always subjected to kiss a lot of people in movies. I had to do a kissing scene in Wild Child, I had to do one in Lymelife, and I had to do one on my television show Unfabulous, but that was actually two on that show. And in Winning Season too, actually. So no, this was not my first one, but they're all really awkward and embarrassing.
IH: If we could talk about Thor a little bit, he's a younger guy...
JA: When I was told I had a director session, I imagined this elderly man, just typical director.
ER: That's what I thought. They were like, “You're going to meet the director. [His name is] Thor Freudenthal.” I imagined some older man, and then I met him and he doesn't even have an accent. He was really great to work with. JA: Fresh out of college. I was shocked. Thor was great to work with.
ER: He took on a lot for his first movie.
JA: W.C. Fields said, “Never work with kids, never work with animals,” and he basically put that aside. He knows what he wants.
ER: He did a really good job. We saw the final thing a week and a half ago and we were just like, “Wow, congratulations,” because when you're in the middle of doing it, you're so stressed out and you don't even really think about how it's going to turn out, and then to see it finally done... I was just like, “You know what? You did a really good job.”
JA: Watching it on the monitor and then watching it on the screen is a completely different experience.
IH: What about the actors you work with in this movie?
JA: I idolize each and every one of them. Kevin Dillon is one of my favorite actors, Lisa Kudrow, Don Cheadle... So being able to work with them was great. I learned a lot and I got to work with some of my favorite people.
ER: Yeah, I love Lisa Kudrow. On Friends, she was always my favorite. Years and years before I even thought I would ever do a movie with her, I loved her so, and I love Kevin Dillon on Entourage -- he's my favorite. Don Cheadle -- he's the man. He's amazing. So it was just great to get to be in a movie with all of them, and it was a really good chemistry everyone had with each other.
IH: Kevin seems a little similar to his character in Entourage.
JA: I think that's maybe towards the tone of voice and the facial expressions, but personality-wise, he's a pretty genuine guy. And I think he plays his character really well and so people think that's actually him.
IH: These two actors are so funny on-screen, but did you guys have a crack-up moment and “I have to stop right now and start laughing”?
ER: Sometimes we would start laughing and we couldn't stop, and then everyone's like, “Okay, guys, okay,” and we were like, “I can't stop.”
JA: I laughed a lot during the interrogation scene, where I'm being interrogated by Kevin Dillon and he gets up in my face and he's got his eyes bulging. He's like, “Tell me what you see.” One take, he goes, “Look into my eyes, tell me what you see!” And it's like I didn't burst out laughing, but I was on the verge -- like my eyes were watering, not from sadness, but from internal laughter. IH: Emma, in the notes, it says you worked with Alec Baldwin on Limelight. Are you interested in doing 30 Rock?
ER: I think 30 Rock would be so fun to do a guest-spot on. I think Tina Fey is a genius. Alec Baldwin is such a cool guy, so that would be really cool.
IH: Can you imagine doing another TV series?
ER: I think doing a series would be really fun. At the moment, I'm not actively pursuing that, but I would never say "never." I'm obsessed with Lost; I love Grey's Anatomy; I love tons of shows. I love watching TV. That's recently too. I stopped watching TV for a year, and then all these good shows came on.
IH: What's the deal with the Unfabulous DVD?
ER: Good question. I'm sure it will come out eventually, but I don't know if anytime soon. You can get it on iTunes. Same with Clarissa Explains It All, an old Nickelodeon show that I used to be obsessed with when I was younger, so I was really happy about that.
IH: You mentioned Entourage which, in a way, might fit this, but what would you say is something that each of you likes that people wouldn't expect you to like?
JA: I like Entourage. I don't think a lot of people know I live in New York. I go to public school and I love to write and everything, and I have a lot of friends that I hang out with whenever I go back, so when I'm not in Hollywood, I'm just a normal kid. ER: I'm really into photography. I love taking pictures of people. I make all my friends be my models and they get really annoyed, and I love Entourage. I'd love to guest star on Entourage, actually.
IH: Who is your favorite photographer?
ER: Mario Testino and Bruce Weber are my favorites.
IH: Are you still in school?
ER: Yeah, I'm a senior and I just sent all my applications into college, so we'll see where that leads me come the fall.
IH: What do you want to study?
ER: I would love to study something to do with literature and writing, and I'd love to study photography and maybe even take a psychology class or something.
IH: Would you put your acting on hold or do both at the same time?
ER: I cannot even plan that far. I can't even plan what I'm going to do tomorrow, let alone in nine months. I mean, it depends, because if an amazing script comes along with an amazing cast and people I want to work with, then I am going to put college on hold just because I can go back to that. But at the same time, I'm not going to leave college for something that I don't love, because I really do want to be serious about it.
IH: You've made an independent film, Lymelife. Are you particularly eager to leave kid movies behind for awhile?
ER: I think so. I'm not really making a conscious choice to not do something or to specifically do something. I'm just kind of seeing what comes to me and choosing what I like to do, which, so far, has been obviously more mature things. I'm almost 18 -- next month -- so it's just inevitable that I'm going to want to do older things -- but nothing too crazy. I did Lymelife, which was much more mature, and then I just did a movie with Sam Rockwell called The Winning Season, and both are actually going to be at Sundance next week. That's about an all-girls basketball team and Sam Rockwell is the coach, and it's kind of A League of Their Own for basketball. I'm doing completely different things -- a dog movie, a sports movie, and independent.
IH: What are you working on, Jake?
JA: I'm filming the series Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney Channel. I have a movie coming out called The Perfect Game this year, sometime in March or April. I like to write a lot of my own stuff, so I want to elaborate on that.
ER: Yeah, he's a really good writer. I've read a lot of his stuff.
JA: Thank you. Maybe I want to do some more movies, take a break from TV. We're doing 30 episodes, so that's a lot. ER: It's unheard of.
JA: So we just want to take a break from Disney and television and just focus on film.
IH: The biggest genre right now is superheroes. If you could be one, which one would you be?
ER: Wonder Woman. She has the best outfit.
JA: Well, it's one of the only girl superheroes.
ER: No, there's Catwoman. There's actually not a lot of girl superheroes.
JA: I don't know, probably Captain America. I think that would be fun.
ER: No, I want to be a Powerpuff Girl. JA: Are those superheroes, though?
ER: Yes, they are. I want to be Buttercup. Wait, no. I don't want to be the short, dark-haired one. I don't like that one. I want to be Blossom, the redhead. I like Blossom.
JA: I'm surprised you know the names of the Powerpuff Girls.
ER: I know, that is kind of weird. That's embarrassing. They should make that a real movie.
IH: What kind of writing do you do?
JA: I read a lot of Syd Field, so a lot of screenwriting. I made a lot of short films. I'm looking to submit to some things. I just really like putting my ideas down on paper because I always have things brewing in my head, and just to be able to put it down and make something out of it is great. ER: I told him he has to give me a job one day. JA: One day, yeah.
'Hotel For Dogs' in in theaters now from Nickelodeon/DreamWorks SKG