Meet the cute ‘John Wick’ co-star who stole Keanu Reeves’ heart
by Lindsay Putnam
Last fall, on the set of “John Wick,” Keanu Reeves lazily lay in bed, curled up with his co-star as they awoke to their 6 a.m. alarm. Reeves enjoyed a smattering of kisses from the cutie before both headed to the kitchen for breakfast.
Only this time, Reeves’ co-star isn’t some leggy blonde, but an 8-week-old beagle pup named Andy.
The dude-licious actor pairs up with the silver screen newbie for the action flick “John Wick,” out Friday.
Reeves plays the eponymous star of the film, a retired hit man who returns to a life of crime and goes on a murderous rampage after Russian mobsters cruelly kill his pup.
Kim Krafsky, a trainer from Animal Actors International, was tasked with the job of finding just the right dog for the role. The filmmakers knew from the get-go that they wanted a beagle.
“There’s this thing about them, they’re just cute. They’re not overly large or small, they’re just a cuddly breed with those big sad eyes,” says Krafsky.
It took her and her team about two weeks to find just the right puppy for the part.
“The dog had to be outgoing, enjoy being around people and, of course, be beautiful,” she says. “All of those things have to be wrapped up in to one animal.”
After meeting over two dozen beagle puppies, she purchased Andy — a male, less than 2 months old, whose parents were hunting dogs — from a breeder in upstate New York.
“When I walk into a room of puppies, I look for the ones that come to me. Some are too interested in playing, but Andy kept following me around,” says Krafsky.
She quickly began working with the dog.
“With puppies, it requires more time and insight to acquire the proper on-screen behavior because they’re so young. It takes patience, positive reinforcement and a lot of treats,” she explains.
During the movie, Krafsky would stand right next to the camera, giving Andy his cues and monitoring his behavior.
For some scenes, such as when Russian mobsters break in to Wick’s home, a second trainer would crouch behind a couch, calling to Andy so that the dog knew where to go.
In total, Krafsky and Andy were on set for close to three weeks, even though the dog’s character in the movie — a female pup named Daisy — is knocked off by Russian mobsters about 20 minutes into the film.
Working with a dog whose character gets brutally killed made everyone on set emotional.
“The whole time you’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, how sad,’” says Krafsky. The actor playing the pup’s killer, Omer Barnea, had a hard time, too.
“He felt horrible,” she recalls. “Every time the director yelled cut, he just picked up the dog and cuddled him.”
In between takes, Andy preferred to be by himself and relax in his own corner of the set, but the cast and crew were smitten. He and Reeves, who’s an admitted fan of dogs, “really hit it off,” according to Krafsky.
As of now, Andy, who turned 1 in July, doesn’t have any other gigs lined up, and is content with just living a dog’s life with fellow thespian creatures on the Animal Actors International farm in New Jersey.
“He just loves to be cuddled and go for walks and play. He’s a little love bug,” says Krafsky.
But with publicity for the film in full swing — Andy’s attending press junkets, red carpets and premieres — she’s noticed that he’s started to appreciate the finer things in life.
“He loves getting the red-carpet treatment,” she says. “His diva side is starting to come out.”