Are you a Captain Marvel fan? Have you heard Goose the CAT just might steal the show? With the release of the Captain Marvel movie in theaters this weekend, PetTalk decided to have some fun with it! We caught up with Head Trainer: Ursula Brauner and Cat Trainer: Mark Harden, trainers to the “Pet Stars” in the movie and had an opportunity to ask the few questions regarding how they get these cool animals to be such great actors!
1) How was Reggie (who plays Goose) selected?
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to bring Reggie to the meeting that we had with the film makers to discuss working on the movie. Thank goodness I did! He won everyone’shearts! I brought a plush cat bed for him to hang out on, so he was comfortable in the room filled with our directors, producers and visual effects producers. Reggie made himself right at home and lounged on the bed like it was just another day at the office. He was calm, cool and collected which embodied the chill character of Goose. Everyone loved him right from the beginning and a star was born!
2) Did Reggie have previous skills or was he “green” when training started?
Reggie and his double Archie were experienced cats when we began the film. Once we took a look at the script and broke down the cat action that would be required, we all agreed that it would be a good idea to train a couple of additional cats that doubled Reggie. We adopted Rizzo and Gonzo from 2 different shelters and worked approximately 4 months to get all the cats ready for the action. We always work cats in teams so we can spread out the work load and also utilize each cat’s personality and strengths. Our goal in training is to bring out the best in each cat and, just like people, they excel at different things. This is important in building a character like “Goose”. “Goose” has a lot of facets to his personality and each cat contributed to the final result, but Reggie is definitely the embodiment of the character.
4) What was the most difficult trick to teach and how did you go about training for that trick?
We have extensive experience training cats for film and teaching the tricks and behaviors is the best and most rewarding part for both us and the cats. We form an incredible bond during this time, just us and our cats learning new things! The most difficult thing is “working” the cats in the movie set environment. Much of our prep is focused on gradually getting the cats used to what they will experience on set, working with the actors and the environments/situations they will be filming in. We work very hard to build a strong bond and trust with all of our animals so when it comes time for filming, they are comfortable, relaxed and ready to concentrate on the job at hand. This is extremely important to us.
5) Did you use food as motivation? If not, what did you use (toy, praise, etc.)?
We use many different types of positive motivation. There are quite a few tricks that the cats naturally love, and it doesn’t take much to ask them to perform things like rubbing on someone’s leg or taking a nap in a bed. Other things have levels and it always depends on how far away we are from them while they are working and what position we can be in for camera. We always start with using their normal nutritional kibble meals, but we have no problem upping the ante if it’s a special thing we are asking of them. We will use yummy food like chicken, tuna or liver, just to make it more worth their while. They also love to chase feather toys or the laser between shots and loved just hanging out with us in their own, decked out, private trailer that production provided just for them! It traveled everywhere with them, even to Louisiana.