Shelter Dogs Get Second Chance as Actors in New Steve Carell Movie

A new film from Focus Features proves that it's never too late for a second chance — even when the world is ending.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which hits theaters this Friday, stars Steve Carell, Keira Knightley and some pretty lucky pound pups. The main canine actor is a 5-year-old terrier mix named Aleister, who has been starring in commercials ever since he was rescued from a California shelter in 2008. In his first foray into silver screen work, Aleister portrays the role of "Sorry."

The canine character's name comes from a note attached to the dog's collar when Dodge (Steve Carell) finds him after a failed suicide attempt. Dodge takes the note's single word, "sorry," literally, and uses it as a moniker for his scrappy, snaggletoothed companion.

“Sorry enters the story right when Dodge has reached his lowest low and given up hope altogether,” writer and director Lorene Scafaria says in a press release. “He wakes up that morning and finds he has been given someone else’s burden, which becomes a responsibility that gives Dodge’s life meaning again."

Scafaria says that since the hero dog's role is so prominent, the crew had to have several acting doubles for Aleister. The stunt double, Mulligan, was pulled from a shelter on the morning he was scheduled to be euthanized. After just two weeks of training, the dog was ready to start shooting his action-packed scenes. Scafaria admits that her decision to bring two more rescue dogs onto the set, just in case Aleister and Mulligan needed backup, may qualify her as a "crazy-dog-lady-in-the-making."

It sounds like Aleister held his own behind the scenes, though. The terrier snuggled up to Knightley right away, and also worked his charm on Carell, Scafaria says.

“We would take a little bit of time every day before we started filming for what we called a bonding session," the director explained. "We’d get Steve and Aleister comfortable together. Steve gave him treats, and kissed and cuddled him. That way, when Aleister worked with Steve on camera, there was already a bond.”

Check out this trailer for the film, and watch closely for Aleister's appearance at 1:44.

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