The animal stars of Disney’s new live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp aren’t ordinary celebrity dogs raised on fancy spa days and eating organic food out of crystal bowls. No, these dogs are mostly rescue dogs, and they have seen things—which makes their star turns even more rewarding.
Lady and the Tramp, which stars Justin Theroux as the voice of wily Tramp and Tessa Thompson as the voice of pampered Lady, is the classic story of star-crossed canine lovers learning to navigate their socio-economic differences as they fall in love amidst a series of adventures. They eat spaghetti. They break free from the clink. It’s a very New York story, actually.
Tramp had to be a gritty, street-smart dog with a playful energy. And after searching nationwide, the film’s casting team found the perfect match—a rescue dog originally from a kill shelter in Arizona named Monty.
The mutt—most likely a schnauzer and shepherd mix—had been pulled from the kill shelter by HALO Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter based in Phoenix.
For Lady, the team found Rose, a rescue American cocker spaniel and hunting dog from Texas, who “needed a job” because she was too active to just sit around with her family.
Producer Brigham Taylor knew he wanted to use real dogs in the movie because nothing can replace “the reaction you get when you stare into the eyes of an actual dog.”
“Once we started turning our attention to casting the main dogs, in that same breath we said, ‘We need to rescue as many of these dogs as we can.” Taylor told People. “Tramp, certainly had to be a rescue.”
“We had to cast this iconic character, who is a mutt, so there’s no breed to go on,” said Mark Forbes, the animal trainer—on set as well as Monty’s new parent. Forbes added that it was important to find a dog with the right flop to his ears.
As with any cast, the two stars must meet to make sure they have the right chemistry—and Monty and Rose do.
“Rose was always the alpha in that relationship,” Taylor told the New York Post. “[But] they became really close.”
Other actors leading their voice talents to the project are Sam Elliot as Trusty the Bloodhound, Janelle Monae as Peg the Pekingnese, Ashley Jensen as Jock the Scottish Terrier (Jock was a male in the original, so get ready for people to become disproportionately upset about the switch), and Benedict Wong as Bull the Bulldog.
“It was a pleasure to see them thrive,” Forbes said.
The best news? After filming wrapped, all of the dogs on set found forever homes.