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Marmaduke – How Owen Wilson and George Lopez got on being pets

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Marmaduke - Marmaduke and Carlos
Marmaduke and Carlos on the poster © Twentieth Century Fox

Marmaduke, the loveable Great Dane, has been the star of his own comic strip for over twenty years, appearing in 600 newspapers. He is finally starring in his own movie, in which he, along with his family, move from the mid-west to sunny California, where the 200 pound canine discovers it isn’t always easy to find new friends. Luckily, he always has his best friend, Carlos, a Russian Blue Cat, looking out for him.

In the movie, Marmaduke is voiced by Owen Wilson, and Carlos, by George Lopez. The two actors spoke about their unusual roles at the press junket in San Diego.

What is it about Marmaduke that’s relatable to audiences?

Owen Wilson: I think that what makes the character fun to play and relatable is he’s trying to fit in at the dog park, and the dog park is kind of like high school for Marmaduke, so that feeling of wanting to fit in and be popular, that’s Marmaduke’s journey.

What was your reaction when you saw the characters you were voicing?

Marmaduke - Voices by Owen Wilson and George Lopez
Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson), the world’s most famous and beloved Great Dane, and his best pal and stepbrother Carlos (voiced by George Lopez) go Hollywood © Twentieth Century Fox

George Lopez: I was more excited that Owen was Marmaduke. From the first scene that I saw when we were recording it, and they said, ‘Let’s show you a little bit of what Owen has done,’ it just worked for me.

I was like, ‘Wow,’ and then I knew what I could be. I could be a great partner, I could be really funny and accentuate (what Owen was doing) and Owen would help me and we’d be like that (puts his hands together).

We’re supposed to be tight in the movie, you can see that we’re very close, and the two voices are so unique and they work so well together that you almost say, ‘I can’t see anybody else being Mamaduke but that voice.’

Owen Wilson: And Carlos kind of has my back, he isn’t afraid to tell me I’m full of it. He tells me like it is.

Did you record separately or together?

Marmaduke - Marmaduke with Lee Pace
Marmaduke is livin’ large in Orange County, California, with his owner Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) © Twentieth Century Fox

Owen Wilson: We recorded separately. I think there was an idea that we were going to record together but it never worked out. But it kind of ended up being good, because I’d come in and they’d show me what the latest insult that Carlos has hurled my way and it was funny coming up with stuff.

How was the process for you?

George Lopez: I loved it. I loved all of it. The first time it was very relaxing in (the recording studio) and Tom Dey, the director, did a great job of keeping that energy, but yet he’d be leaning back with his hands over his head going, ‘Yeah, that’s good. Let’s do it like this.’ I always (record) standing up, I don’t sit down.

Owen Wilson: I don’t either.

George Lopez: I stand up, and it’s nice to listen to it, and go back in and take another swing at it. It was one of my best experiences, all parts of it. When we left, the movie was better, you could see it getting better.

Why do you think talking dog movies are universally popular?

Marmaduke - Marmaduke and Jezebel
Marmaduke and his lady friend Jezebel get to know each other over a jar of peanut butter © Twentieth Century Fox

Owen Wilson: You go around the world and everyone’s got pets, usually dogs. There’s a reason they are man’s best friend. So there’s something that people find hilarious about dogs surfing and dancing, also just talking, because I know that you see people riding in the car talking to their animals. And I’ve been guilty of sometimes talking to my dog, Garcia. So it’s nice for people to get wish fulfillment seeing animals actually talking.

Is there any animal in your life that has inspired you?

George Lopez: Are you inspired by Garcia?

Owen Wilson: Yeah, I would say that I wanted to dignify the way I think Garcia, my dog’s life is through Marmaduke.

George Lopez: I have a cat around the house that’s from Hawaii, but he wouldn’t sound like me, I think he would sound like more like Tommy Chong, ‘What’s going on, man?’

If your dog could ask you a question, what do you think it would be?

Owen Wilson: Why can’t I have more food all the time? And I’d have to explain, ‘Because you don’t need it. Twice a day is all you need.’

George Lopez: Mine would be like, ‘We peed on some stuff of your’s, let’s see how long it takes you to find out where exactly it is. It’s something you love that we destroyed!