The Dog in I Am Legend

“I was begging him,” Will said. “I was like, ‘Please let me have Abbey. Please, please, please let me have her.’ But you know, she has her own family now so it was just another one of those fleeting Hollywood romances. ~-From an Access Hollywood interview-~

As I wrote about in Animal Movies = Torture: How I Fared Through Evan Almighty, movies featuring animals kill me. Doesn’t matter if there’s a happy ending or not, I can’t sit still to watch them.

This weekend Wayne and I went to see I Am Legend. I knew there was a dog in it. I’d seen the previews and had surmised the dog played a crucial role. I also had an inkling the dog’s ultimate fate would not be a happy one. But I really wanted to see the movie so… We braved it. (Wayne can take animal movies, but he doesn’t do so good with scary, and this one was.)

However, we both ended up enjoying it because of the very thing I was dreading: the dog’s part in the movie.

While Will Smith is undoubtedly the star and does, as usual, an awesome acting job, he shares the screen with Abbey the German Shepherd. (That’s her name in real life. Her name in the movie is Sam, as in Samantha.)

The thing I liked best about it was the way Will Smith’s character, Dr. Robert Neville, treated Sam. Just like how I treat Murphy, how Aimee treats her Lally and Moose, and how so many of my other friends treat their dogs: just like a person.

He spoke to Sam like he would a person…and she responded in her own way. She helped Neville with chores just like how Murph helps me with mine. (But in her case, battling creepy “Dark Seekers” was part of it. Gulp! Murph’s happy he doesn’t have such tasks.) She kept him company, went on rides with him, and in general was his buddy. (But she seemed to enjoy baths a lot more than Murph ever has!)

It’s not very often a dog gets such a big part in a movie, and it’s even less often the animal/human relationship is portrayed like the one in I Am Legend was. It was endearing and is something dog-lovers everywhere will be able to relate to.

And I don’t know how they got her to do some of what she did, but the range of emotions she portrayed –from happy to sad, fiercely loyal to worried– was amazing. If they handed out Golden Globes, Emmys, or Oscars for best animal actor, she should win one!

“Abbey started responding to, ‘Rolling!’” Smith recounted. “She would hear it and then go … I was like, ‘Did that dog just respond to the cameraman saying ‘Rolling?’

“I love that dog,” Smith continued.
~-Access Hollywood interview-~