When an animal passes away in a movie, you know there won’t be a single dry eye in the theater (or on your couch, depending on the venue)! That’s because we love seeing dogs, cats, horses, and more on the big screen, and we can connect with those furry characters almost instantly!
But while we think we may be absolutely in love with Hollywood animals, more often than not, the actors who work with them adore them even more. These actors couldn’t even let go of their furry co-stars once they were done filming, so they made dramatic decisions to keep their new friends close.
1. Elizabeth Taylor: Horse King Charles got pretty lucky when it came to his career. Young Elizabeth already knew him from her country club and actually suggested that he play her horse Pie in National Velvet. He was pretty stubborn on set, listening only to her!
2. Sophie Turner: In Game of Thrones, each Stark child received a direwolf, played by a Northern Inuit pup. When real wolves and CGI replaced these fur balls, Sophie Turner jumped at the opportunity to take her characters’ wolf home. She renamed her Zunni.
3. Will Smith: He bonded with his I Am Legend co-star, a German Shepherd Sam played by a dog named Abbey. After growing attached to the pooch, Smith asked her owners if he could have her. They declined, and he understood.
4. James Gunn: The Guardians Of The Galaxy director fell head over heels for the raccoon Rocket was modeled after, Oreo. He brought him onto set constantly because the cast loved seeing him. They even attended the premiere together!
5. Chris Evans: The Captain America actor became best buds with Dodger, his costar in the 2017 movie Gifted. Chris adopted him after they wrapped, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
6. Judy Garland: When the Cairn Terrier who played Toto got really sick while filming The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland took him home so he could recover. Later, when filming wrapped, she tried her best to keep the pup but wasn’t allowed to.
7. Jennifer Aniston: Everyone cried during Marley & Me, and that includes Jen Aniston. She had a strong connection to all the pups and adult dogs that portrayed Marley, and it only added to her own love of dogs for years to come.
8. Robert Redford: To his fans, it’s no secret that Robert loves horses. In fact, he already owned a whole ranch before being cast in The Electric Horseman. Before filming wrapped, he concluded one horse, Let’s Merge, would join his stables.
9. Tom Hardy: When Tom was asked to play the lead in The Drop, he mainly did it because he knew there would be pups involved. In the end, he took one of his co-stars home, though he had a difficult time choosing between all the pit bulls that played Rocco!
10. Kim Novak: What’s a witch without a cat? When Novak starred in Bell Book and Candle, her character had a Siamese fur-friend by her side at all times. When filming ended, Novak adopted him, and he was famously featured in many of her photo shoots.
11. Brendan Fraser: During the filming of Texas Rising, some of the horses used on set were picking on one particular horse, Pecas. Brendan developed a soft spot for Pecas and brought him home. There, the horse formed a special bond with Brendan’s autistic son!
12. Tiffany Haddish: The star of Key & Peele’s Keanu, ended up adopting one of the seven kittens that played Keanu. The feline’s original name was Clementine, but it was changed to Catatonic. (The rest were adopted by professional animal trainers).
13. Bradley Cooper: In A Star Is Born, Ally and Jackson adopt a dog, Charlie. In reality, that was actually Bradley Cooper’s own dog (actually named Charlie)! Cooper wanted to make sure he and the on-screen dog had chemistry.
14. Viggo Mortensen: After Lord of the Rings filming ended, he bought two of the movie’s horses to keep each other company. He also bought T.J., the horse who starred in the movie Hidalgo, which he rode to that movie’s premiere!
15. Ed O’Neill: When Jay Pritchett, the grandfather in Modern Family, gets a French Bulldog named Stella, he falls in love. On set, O’Neill made sure the dog — who’s real name is Bridgett — was looked after every minute.
16. Reese Witherspoon: She and little Moonie — the dog who played Bruiser in Legally Blonde — became the best of friends, and the actress took him home with her. The little guy was even there when she received her star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
17. Quvenzhané Wallis: The lead Annie (2014) actress couldn’t get enough of little Marti, who played a dog named Sandy. Marti even got the role because she licked Quvenzhané’s face during the casting. Years after shooting ended, the two hang out when they’re in the same area.
18. Sir Anthony Hopkins: When nobody wanted to adopt Freya the pit bull, Hollywood took her in and put her to work. On the set of Transformers: The Last Night, she formed a strong bond with Sir Anthony Hopkins.
19. Robert Downey Jr.: When filming Due Date with Zack Galifianakis, RDJ had to pretend he couldn’t stand Zack’s character’s dog. In real life, though, he couldn’t get enough of Sunny! Her trainer wouldn’t give her to him, but did promise to help him find a similar pooch.
20. Ewan McGregor: Like most actors on this list, Ewan really wanted to adopt Cosmo the dog who played Arthur in the movie Beginners. Unfortunately, Ewan’s wife was allergic to the breed, but Ewan researched hypo-allergenic dogs and eventually found a pooch of his own.
21. Tom Hanks: In this 1989 film, Tom Hanks’ character inherits his friend’s slobbering pooch, who helps him solve a crime. Hooch, Hank’s four-legged sidekick, was one of the most ancient French breeds of dog called Dogue de Bordeaux.
22. Jason Alexander: The Seinfeld actor got to hang out with an orangutan while filming Dunston Checks In. Despite the hilarious antics the two got into, the movie wasn’t well-received by audiences.
23. Bill Murray: The Saturday Night Live alumnus took advantage of the unique opportunity to meet an elephant during Larger Than Life. The two got along great, but then again how could you not want to spend time with a legend like Murray?
24. Robert Downey Jr. (again): He starred alongside a big shaggy four-legged buddy in The Shaggy Dog. Although throughout the movie the dog is referred to as a sheepdog, he was actually a Bearded Collie.
25. Katherine Hepburn: She was apparently fearless when it came to hanging around Nissa, the leopard who played Baby in Bringing Up Baby. Cary Grant, however, was less thrilled by the animal’s presence and a double was used whenever he and the leopard had to make contact.
26. Matt LeBlanc: According to LeBlanc, Ed the baseball-playing chimpanzee was actually just a guy wearing a suit with a mechanically-controlled head in Ed. The electronic head was so loud that every scene with the chimp needed to be re-dubbed.
27. Jamie Lee Curtis: She and the rest of the crew on Beverly Hills Chihuahua rescued Papi, the leading Chihuahua, one day before he was supposed to be put down. He went from zero to hero overnight!
28. James Cromwell: Believe it or not, he was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the farmer in Babe. Incredibly, 48 different pigs were used throughout filming due to the fact that baby pigs grow so quickly.
29. Uggie: The Parsons Russell terrier took the film world by storm starring in The Artist, a black and white celebration of the early film era. Some actually say that it was Uggie’s performance that helped the film win its Oscar.
30.Michelle Williams: Lassie was the film debut for this future A-Lister. She was lucky her first deep dive into cinema came with an adorable Collie as her co-star.
31. Clint Eastwood: He and Manis the Orangutan were the leading gents in Every Which Way But Loose. The actor said this about his primate costar: “One of the most natural actors I ever worked with! But you had to get him on the first take because his boredom level was very limited.”
32. Nathan Lane: Although some of the scenes used computer animation for the mouse who wreaks havoc on Nathan Lane’s character’s life in Mouse Hunt, a rat was used as a body double during close-up shots of the mouse in the walls.
33.Jeff Goldblum: There were plenty of animals who starred alongside the quirky actor in Cats and Dogs, but only one of them had another Hollywood credit. Prada, the Beagle who played Lou, was also in Star Trek: Enterprise.
34. Matthew Broderick: He had to handle a komodo dragon for his role in The Freshman. Unlike dogs or cats, training reptiles is far from easy, so Broderick really just grabbed the animal when he needed to for scenes.
35. Matthew Broderick (again): He got to share the silver screen with animals again in Project X, and this time they were chimpanzees. The cast of chimps was well-trained and enjoyed working, but all of the chimp sounds in the movie were dubbed over with human vocals.
36. Charlton Heston: Call of the Wild was based on Jack London’s novel, and Heston wasn’t well-liked by the leading actor. He described the crew as having “no filmmaking talent whatsoever.” At least he got to hang out with an awesome dog the whole time.
37. Dennis Quaid: Controversy surrounded A Dog’s Purpose when footage leaked that supposedly showed a panicked dog being forcibly dunked into water. However, the footage was doctored, and Quaid and the rest of the actors enjoyed their time with the Hollywood pooches.
38. Ellen Page: Ghost Cat was about a young girl and her father who moved into a house haunted by its previous owner and her cat. It was difficult to deliver real scares with a cat so cute and cuddly.
39. Cuba Gooding Jr.: In Snow Dogs, the Huskies used were gorgeous. Many of the dogs actually went on to star in their next feature film, Eight Below, four years later.
40. Ethan Hawke: He acted alongside an actual wolf-dog hybrid in White Fang, a Jack London tale about interspecies friendship. The animal’s actual name was Jed, and fans of horror films might also recognize him as the dog from John Carpenter’s The Thing.