AAP Entertainment

Harrison Ford goes Wild with dog pal Buck

By AAP Newswire

Harrison Ford says there was one big plus about sharing the screen in his new film, The Call of the Wild, with Buck the burly, vivacious St Bernard-Scotch Collie mixed dog.

"Well, he doesn't poop on the carpet," Ford smiled.

Buck does not poop on the carpet because he does not poop at all.

The Call of the Wild is based on Jack London's classic 1903 adventure novel, and while the story may be more than 100-years-old, Ford, director Chris Sanders and their visual effects team used modern technology to create a digital Buck.

They also used some tricks.

Sanders hired actor and former Cirque du Soleil performer Terry Notary to portray Buck in scenes with Ford and the film's other actors.

Notary studied dog behaviour and wore a grey costume, prosthetic front dog legs and would get down on his hands and knees to give the actors a reference in scenes.

Visual effects wizards later removed Notary and replaced him with the animated Buck.

"I always wanted to ask Terry, 'You spent a lot of time with Harrison patting your head. Does it feel really good?" Sanders said.

Ford plays the gruff, loner John Thornton in the film that is set in the 1890s gold rush in Yukon, Canada.

The story follows Buck as his mischievous nature leads him away from the comfort of his life with a family in California to the Yukon wilds.

Ford, who turns 78 in July, first read The Call of the Wild in high school and read it again before shooting the film.

"It's a 100-year-old book that has never been out of print," Ford said.

"There's some powerful themes that keep this book alive."

The themes include respecting the environment, something Ford, a member of non-profit Conservation International for more than 25 years and current vice president of its board of directors, has strong views about.

"First of all, by believing in science and not finding the answer to the mystery of life in ideology," Ford, asked how nature can be saved, said.

"The middle has always been science.

"It's what led us to common understanding and to see the way that science is being denigrated right now is painful.

"It's ridiculous.

"We're in a tough place right now, but we are going to beat this."

The Call of the Wild opened in Australia cinemas on Thursday (February 20).