One of the oldest rules in showbiz is to never work with children or animals, but Charlie Bean must have missed that memo. The director of Disney’s Lady & The Tramp live action remake, currently streaming on the Disney+ platform, shot his movie using real dogs, then augmented the footage with CGI to anthropomorphize his furry cast.
But animals can be even more difficult to direct than some actors, as Bean learned when filming the new version of the original movie’s famous spaghetti and meatball scene. Rose, the cocker spaniel playing the part of Lady, proved to be quite the diva, and clearly had some notes of her own that she thought would improve the scene.
“Rose walked right up to the table and stood on top of it,” Bean told USA Today. “She did that a few times. It was hilarious… It’s the little things that you don’t expect.” He added that Rose “really was the alpha” of the two canine co-stars, rather than Monte, the schnauzer-shepherd mutt playing Tramp.
Bean and his crew recreated the classic scene by serving up a dish of meatballs on “spaghetti” that was actually sugarless, dog-friendly liquorice soaked in tasty-smelling chicken broth. “We put the plate down for them to just go for it and [Rose] just hoovered those meatballs,” said Bean. “You could see the meatball whole going down her throat. It was amazing.”
In the movie, Lady and Tramp are voiced by Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. While some internet commenters have suggested that the CGI-enhanced dogs fall well and truly into the uncanny valley, the star power of the cast might be enough to make this remake a worthy successor to the original.
“To me, it’s one of the most romantic scenes in cinema history, not just animated history,” said Bean. “It was important to do it justice. So there were some sleepless nights leading into this.”