Top 10 Times Animal Actors Went Wild On Set

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Top 10 Times Animal Actors Went Wild On Set

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
If these stories prove anything, it's that having animals on set can be a real pain. For this list, we'll be looking at instances where non-human performers caused problems behind the scenes. Our countdown includes “The Sopranos”, “Frasier”, “Game of Thrones”, and more!
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Top 10 Times Animal Actors Were Difficult on Set


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Animal Actors Were Difficult on Set.

For this list, we’ll be looking at instances where non-human performers caused problems behind the scenes. Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of these films and series.

Could you work with any of these troublesome creatures? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Cosette

“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)
On a show full of brutal demises, one of the hardest to watch was when Adriana’s beloved dog, Cosette, tragically crossed paths with an altered Christopher Moltisanti. But it seems this sequence was just as difficult behind the scenes. Actress Drea de Matteo described working with the dog, real name "Little Nicky," as "a nightmare" who was prone to chomping down on people. Even the dog's trainer conceded that the canine wasn't particularly well-mannered. Despite that fact, De Matteo still did an excellent job of conveying Adriana’s grief when she lost Cosette. We don’t imagine she was as emotional saying goodbye to “Little Nicky” as the dog left the set.


#9: Little Man the Bird

“I, Tonya” (2017)
Allison Janney won an Oscar for playing Tonya Harding’s mother, LaVona Golden. She’s easily one of the most despicable on-screen parents of the 2010s. If Janney needed any help channeling her character's bitterness, she might've gotten it from a bird. During on-screen interviews, Janney had a bird sitting on her shoulder. It actually took three tries to find the right flying companion. WhileLittle Man reportedly seemed like a darling during auditions, he reportedly started pecking at the prop oxygen tank and Janney during filming. Fortunately, the actress was able to stay focused anyway. She even gave Little Man some props when she won her Oscar. Great actors know how to roll with the punches, or, in this case, the birds.


#8: Black Phillip

“The Witch” (2015)
There’s an aura of dread hanging over every moment “The Witch.” Some of that tension wasn’t all pretend. Black Phillip, the goat belonging to the ill-fated Puritan family in director Robert Eggers’ period horror film, was reportedly troublesome in real life too. The filmmaker was not shy about his distaste for the animal. Played by a goat named Charlie, Philip constantly did the opposite of what was asked of him. It didn’t help that he also attacked lead actor Ralph Ineson and sent the man to the hospital multiple times. If you've seen "The Witch," you know that Black Phillip is something far more sinister than just an ordinary goat. So, maybe the animal was just doing some method acting?

#7: Eddie

“Frasier” (1993-2004)
Millions of “Frasier” viewers loved adorable Jack Russell Eddie and how he would stare down the titular pompous therapist. But one person who was less-than-keen on Eddie was Frasier himself. In a 1994 interview, star Kelsey Grammar called out Moose, the dog who played Eddie for the first seven seasons. The actor hinted that the dog would make shooting days longer by either not coming out of his trailer or failing to get that first take just right. And he apparently wasn’t that warm in the green room either. While we can understand Grammar’s frustration as an actor, we think he’d agree that “Frasier” just wouldn’t be the same without Eddie.

#6: The Baboon

“Evan Almighty” (2007)
Working with one animal species is difficult enough, let alone 177. This modern comedic version of the Noah’s Ark story required plenty of cooperation among its animal cast. One species that wasn’t exactly easy to work with were the baboons. In one scene a primate delivers some lemonade to Steve Carrell’s Evan. When the drink was spilled in one take, the funny man improvised an angry reaction. But the baboon took this as a threat and immediately moved to intimidate Carell with an aggressive demeanor. After that point, the actor was warned not to do so much as make eye contact with the baboon. We guess the primate just isn’t a fan of improv.

#5: Cats

“Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)
The Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” is about a man with 99 problems, and a cat’s just one of them. And it wasn’t Oscar Isaac’s fictional folk singer who was frustrated by a feline. Director Ethan Coen brought in three cats to perform different scenes. Unfortunately, he didn’t have particularly warm feelings about any of them. Apparently, the felines were a pain that couldn’t really be trained to listen to commands. Any cat owner probably would have warned Coen about how difficult these pets can get beforehand. Would it have been easier if he just brought in a dog? Probably. However, we think the choice to keep working with cats was a dramatically effective move.


#4: Asta

“The Thin Man” (1934)
There were many reasons audiences loved watching the adventures of Nick and Nora Charles in the "Thin Man" film series. Outside of the playful banter between stars William Powell and Myrna Loy and their intriguing mysteries, their lovable dog Asta kept grabbing our attention. But Asta was reportedly business-like behind the scenes. Actress Myrna Loy reported that interacting with the canine between scenes was heavily discouraged. During filming of the first film, canine actor Skippy reportedly nipped at Loy once too. But Skippy’s demeanor and bite didn’t end his movie career. He appeared in several other "Thin Man" movies as well as classic screwball comedies "The Awful Truth" and "Bringing Up Baby." He’s one top dog.


#3: Phil the Groundhog

“Groundhog Day” (1993)
Set during the titular holiday, “Groundhog Day” is mostly about a man learning how to be a better person. But there was also a groundhog involved that reportedly was a lot of trouble to deal with. Murray’s Weatherman Phil, driven mad by reliving the same day over and over again, at one point steals Punxsutawney Phil away during an attempt to break the loop. In multiple takes, Phil the groundhog bit the actor. The nips were bad enough that Murray even needed rabies shots! That’s one day we definitely wouldn’t want to relive.

#2: Bart The Bear

“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)
In the 80s and 90s, the go-to bear for Hollywood was known as "Bart the Bear." The namesake was passed on to the unrelated "Bart the Bear 2”. When he appeared on “Game of Thrones" in its third season, he was a bit hard to, well, bear. It wasn't that the animal was physically aggressive towards anyone. He just reportedly had a bit of an ego. According to "Game of Thrones" star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Bart was a huge diva. Apparently, he needed heaping amounts of applause and food between takes just to get going. But if we’re being honest, we’d definitely do whatever made the bear happy.


#1: Marcel the Monkey

“Friends” (1994-2004)
The “Friends” supporting cast was full of great human and animal characters. One of the most memorable ensemble members was Ross' monkey, Marcel. The primate took part in hilarious antics like incessantly playing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." But David Schwimmer wasn't laughing with us. In a 1995 interview, the Ross actor openly expressed his disdain for the monkey. He claimed that Marcel frequently acted out and even tried to bite him. In a 2021 interview, Katie's trainer Mike Morris refuted those allegations. He said Schwimmer was "jealous" of the mofnkey for the attention she got. While other actors got along with the late Marcel, it’s clear that any behind-the-scenes interactions between the primate and Schwimmer were full of monkey business.
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