Halle Berry Actually Trained Her Character's Dogs For JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3
As you all know, dogs are a staple of the John Wick franchise and in the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, we see that Halle Berry’s character Sofia has two dogs that are her protectors. These dogs will fight alongside her and John in the film.
It was previously explained that these two Belgian Malinois dogs represent someone that Sofia has lost. Director Chad Stahelski said, “Whereas John’s puppy was symbolic of his wife, Halle’s two dogs are symbolic of someone she’s lost.” They also built a whole action sequence around the dogs! It was also explained that they are “canine assistants…. They work very well tactically.”
Well, it turns out that Berry actually trained these two dogs herself! When explaining why they decided to take that route, the director told Collider:
“We didn’t want a trainer hiding behind a set piece or a prop or something like that. We wanted Halle—or, Sophia, our character—to be our on-screen dog trainer. So it wasn’t acting like these were her dogs, these actually were her dogs. When we cast Halle we had the big talk. Halle actually came, after all her fight rehearsals and gun rehearsals, she would go sit, and work, and play with the dogs for months on end so the dogs on-screen actually obey Halle. They’re not looking at a trainer. That was really fun.”
I think that’s pretty awesome. It actually makes a lot of sense to do instead of having a trainer off screen. The director went on to talk about what goes into the process of shooting with dogs:
“Process-wise, what’s digitally removed is, the stunt guys put on a special kind of padding. It’s colored green. It’s almost a really bright green. The dog has been trained, ‘Go after the green toy. Don’t bite anything but the green toy.’ So wherever the stunt man put the green toy, or our little green chewy toy, that’s what the dog would go after. So if we wanted a groin hit, the stunt man would wear a velcro green on the groin. If it was forearm, it’s on the forearm. Back on back. We’d come up with all these straps so the dog knew, ‘When I see green, get green.’ As long as you didn’t wear green on set to work that day, you’re doing great. So there was no green allowed on set for the crew…We’d do rehearsal, the doggy would pull off the velcro green chewy toy. He’d have to go in his quiet box. The dog would calm down, it was like a two-minute, ‘Woo, okay. It’s fun. It’s good.’ Then he’d come back in and do the second take. Once you realized what was best for the animals, the dog and the process of how to get the most takes and the most precise takes out of him, we just reverse engineered back how to put it into choreography. We wanted to show that in the movie. So just like our John Wick version where we don’t cut a lot, we tried to do longer take that track with Halle and see the dogs actually doing it, so you know we didn’t just cheat and do an insert of a dog chewing on something.”
Of course, they did bring in a dog coordinator to help out with everything. That person was Game of Thrones wolf trainer Andrew Simpson. But when the cameras were rolling, Halle Berry was the person that the dogs listened to.