Richard Gere meets Chico, Layla, and Forrest, the three Akita dogs who played Hachi

Gere recalls the moment the trainers introduced him to the Akita dog actors in Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

The Akita dog actors portraying Hachi were truly the backbone of this film. Without their hard work and lovability, the movie would have been difficult to film and Hachi’s essence impossible to capture.

It was nerve-wracking because they are very independent and they either like you or they don’t, and we couldn’t find Akitas that were trained animals. About four weeks before shooting the trainer said, ’It’s time for you to meet the dogs’. It was a decisive moment, because if we didn’t get along, we had to find three other adult dogs and start from scratch again.

I actually met the dogs at the train station in the movie and the trainer said, ’Don’t look at the dogs, just ignore them’. The next day I could look at them. The third day, I was sitting talking to the trainers and Layla came over and put her head right on my lap. And from that moment on I was part of the family.

We created situations that would allow them to behave in any way they wanted to behave. And sometimes we would go through a day and have quite a few magic moments which would just evolve. And then we’d have times when nothing would happen, they didn’t feel like it, so we definitely were at their mercy in making this film.”

“We knew it was going to be about the dogs, it definitely wasn’t about me.” (Richard Gere)

Gere and the Akita dog actors truly grew to love each other. This was evident on screen as they bonded and showed Hachi’s commitment and love for the professor, just as in real life.

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2 years ago

I was present for the filming in Woonsocket. I managed to get thousands of photographs of the set. Across the street from the train station, in what is known as the Longley Building, the storefront signage was temporarily changed for the movie. In the movie, I believe you see a bank, a bookstore and, if you look closely, a small barber shop. Actually, the left storefront (at the corner) is Domino’s Pizza. The rest of the stores are vacant.
It was a great pleasure to see and photograph such a set!

Joe Menear
Joe Menear
2 years ago

That was one of the most heartwarming films I have ever seen. I loved every one of the dogs and I cried just watching them as each one waited for his master to return.


[…] Read Review Richard recalls the moment the trainers introduced him to the dogs. … in the movie and the trainer said, ‘Don’t look at the dogs, just ignore them’. I 24 […]


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