There are two types of animals in this world: those that are cut out for the great outdoors and those that are better left in the comforts of their posh Juicy Couture doggy beds. For “Eight Below” actor Jason Biggs, his furry friends would probably fall in the latter category.
“Oh, [they would do] terrible [out in the wild],” Biggs said of his two domesticated mutts. “They’re house dogs. The little guy — the new one — he enjoys the outdoors, but he’s like the size of a wet rat, so he wouldn’t fare too well. We’re worried about letting him out in the yard with the hawks because they’d just swoop down and have some dinner, and I’d end up crying like a baby.”
The “American Pie” funnyman had to brave nearly 30-below temperatures and blistering winds while filming the feel-good action-adventure flick in the mountains of Vancouver, Canada, just across from the icy border of Alaska.
The film, out Friday (February 17), was inspired by a real-life 1957 Japanese expedition and stars “The Fast and the Furious” hunk Paul Walker as Jerry Shepard, a fiercely independent survival guide who is forced to abandon his beloved team of sled dogs in the heart of Antarctica. The team of huskies is forced to fend for itself for six months until a hell-bent Jerry gathers a search crew to rescue them.
Directed by Frank Marshall (“Congo,” “Alive”), “Eight Below” features “A Lot Like Love” beauty Moon Bloodgood as Jerry’s former flame and bush pilot Katie, and Biggs as the film’s comic relief, Cooper, a cartographer and friend who infuses some light-hearted humor during some pretty distressing moments.
“This film is very heavy and intense at times, and I think in order to make it a well-rounded movie, you need someone to come in and deliver a little chuckle factor,” Biggs explained of his quirky character. “To be able to come play and deliver was great fun, especially to do it in a completely new genre for me. You have to go to these funny places, but you can’t overdo it.”
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“This movie is heart-wrenching,” added Bloodgood. “There are moments like, ‘Oh gosh, if that was my dog [out there], I’d fall to pieces,’ and you’re thinking, ‘What would I do if I had to leave my dog behind?’ You wouldn’t be able to sleep.”
Leading man Walker, who is the proud owner of a Chesapeake Bay retriever, worked with a dog musher prior to filming to get a real taste of the sled dogs’ resilience and was surprised by how swift and agile the canines were.
“Those dogs are fast, have endurance like you wouldn’t believe. If you don’t hold on, they’ll throw you right off the back of that sled, and once you get going, it’s hard to stop them,” said the blond, blue-eyed actor, who got tossed around quite a bit during his runs in the snow. “They’ll just go and go and you’re like, ‘Come on, these things have to tire out.’ ”
Biggs was also impressed by his lovable co-stars, enough so that he actually wanted to take them home. “Yeah, I tried to steal a few of them,” the actor joked. “But they’re these big huskies and you can’t really hide them under your jacket. Plus, they bark.”
Kidding aside, the actor said the film’s tale of friendship and perseverance is one that should be remembered.
“What’s amazing about this story is you have these real dogs in real situations,” he said. “It’s just them, yet they’re communicating with each other, giving off emotions and they need to make these decisions that you expect to see with humans, but here are these dogs doing it, and it’s like, ‘Damn, that’s good stuff!’ ”
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