‘Hawkeye’: Meet Pizza Dog
“He’s a good boy.” -Jeremy Renner
Sure, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop’s main enemy is the Tracksuit Mafia but there’s another adversary to watch out for: squirrels. You never know when a pesky squirrel might pop out of nowhere, and that bushy tail can lead to dire consequences. Well, at least in scenes that involve filming with Pizza Dog, that is.
Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye introduces the world to the one and only Pizza Dog, played by a very good boy named Jolt. The idea to introduce the four-legged, one-eyed friend into the series was always part of the DNA of the show, because as executive producer Trinh Tran explains to Marvel.com, “In the comics, in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run, Pizza Dog is number three on the call sheet.”
Early conversations about the show involved, “quite a bit of time trying to figure out how we can weave in the story with Pizza Dog in a fun way.”
The creative team settled on Kate casually meeting Pizza Dog first, before she rescues him from the Tracksuit Mafia and oncoming traffic. “It was a matter of how do we do it in an organic way that makes sense. So it doesn't feel like a dog all of a sudden just appeared in the storyline and how did that happen? It ties into how the dog encounters Kate and shows her nature of wanting to be a hero, and this was a good deed that she did in order to rescue him.”
“Connecting them in a way that showcases her characters and her traits as a hero, but also bringing the dog in a way that made sense to the story,” Tran continues. “Along the way, Pizza Dog also builds that bond with Clint as well. So together, the three of them become this trio that forms that friendship along the series.”
But how do you find the right dog to play Pizza Dog? Yes, there were dog auditions.
“We had several dogs; we had photos and we put the dogs on tape in terms of what they can do,” Tran says with a laugh. “We went on from there, trying to really figure out which is the best dog to play Pizza Dog. And Jolt, our amazing dog on set, was cast for it.”
While acting opposite a dog might sound daunting, both Hailee and Jeremy were extremely game to let a good boy into their group, even if he did sometimes get sidetracked with squirrels.
“It was so fun; I am such a dog lover,” Hailee Steinfeld gushes. “The minute I knew Pizza Dog was as much a part of this show as he is, I was very excited. It was definitely a challenge; the dog is unbelievably well-trained — do not get me wrong — but it is a dog. When it sees a squirrel, it wants to have a moment with the squirrel.”
Episode 3, “Echoes,” involves Clint, Kate, and Pizza Dog walking through the park...which is a place teeming with squirrels.
“We are trying to have a very serious walk-and-talk through Washington Square Park,” states Renner. “I can get a lot of important information out as I'm carrying a backpack, a quiver and a bow, and all these other things. And then I've got this dog that is trying to, again, have a moment with a squirrel. So, difficult at times but mainly very fun.”
Renner adds, “I ended up loving the dog a lot, he’s well trained,” up until “a squirrel would come around.”
As the series progresses, Kate quickly forms a bond with Pizza Dog, having full conversations with him using the pup as a sounding board.
“You see and hear Kate sort of talk to herself a lot or have moments where she's either trying to contain her excitement or figure something out, out loud,” Steinfeld continues. “That's a similar thing that she has with Pizza Dog where she's talking to the dog. She's looking for a connection. She's sort of coping in ways when she is having those moments to herself out loud. But there are moments that she has with this dog where she's not accepting the fact that he’s hers or that she's responsible for him. But this connection grows; she feels that what’s she's looking for in everyone around her. And it's quite sweet that she finds it with Pizza Dog.”
And while Renner is also a self-professed dog lover, he too was happy to leave the leash in the hands of Steinfeld.
“The dog couldn't be cuter. I ended up really liking the dog,” Renner recalls. “I'm not sure if [Clint’s] supposed to be [friendly] towards him. I was just sitting down and he's by me, he's looking at me cute. Hot breath coming on me. He was a wonderful contribution to the show. He’s a good boy.”
But will Clint make it ho-ho-home for the holidays? Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye is now streaming on Disney+.
Starring Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, Hawkeye also features Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez. Helmed by Rhys Thomas and directing duo Bert and Bertie, Hawkeye debuts exclusively on Disney+ on November 24, 2021.
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