The Downward Dog cast was more than willing to dish on nitty-gritty-doggy details of the ABC’s new show. This is a Samm Hodges and Allison Tolman interview exclusive! This unbiased post is sponsored by Disney as a part of the #GotGVol2Event!
“It's just a show about a talking dog and his owner…” That might be your immediate reaction to Downward Dog. You'll probably ask yourself, “How many times has this been done before?” My clear answer is, “never”. This isn't a typical story and far from your average show. It has a much deeper message and is definitely the one of the funniest tv shows I've seen in quite sometime. I'd rank it right up there with American Housewife. I giggle every time I see the trailer.
I think it's important to mention that he doesn't talk directly to Nan. It's a true dog/owner relationship in the sense that they both try to guess what the other is thinking and saying. However, Martin does a bit of a “confessional” type thing where he talks directly to the camera about his thoughts. It's really fun to watch and even more so, it's fun knowing that in real life actress, Allison Tolman, who plays Nan, is really a cat mom and doesn't own a dog. Also, the Executive Producer, Samm Hodges, is the voice of Martin, the dog.
25 Random Facts about ABC's Downward Dog show
In our Samm Hodges and Allison Tolman interview, they gave us everything we needed to know about ABC's new show Downward Dog! These two are the stars of the show and after chatting with them, I can already feel an emotional connection.
- Martin the dog is a hound mix or a “mutt“, as the voice of the dog, Samm Hodges days.
- He was rescued from a shelter called Paws Chicago.
- Martin the dog's real name is Ned
- He was around 5-6 years old when he was adopted and had only been trained for around 6 weeks before joining the Downward Dog cast.
- They wanted a regular old dog for the show, not one who was “showy“, as Allison Tolman explained.”He thinks he’s the most important being in the world, but it’s important for us that he’s very like just a regular old dog.“
- One of the co-creators of Downward Dog is Michael Killen, who also created the Taco Bell Chihuahua!
- Samm Hodges wasn't necessarily a fan of the talking animal idea:“I kinda looked down on the talking dog thing. I had a little [bit of a] darker tone. But one day he (Michael Killen) was like, Just try to write these monologues. And then I wrote the monologues. Then we were trying to cast for the voice and I just did a read, not for myself to do it but [to use as an example]. Then Michael ended up using that read as the dog, and so that’s how I kinda got shoehorned into that role.”
- Allison Tolman wasn't sold on the role until she saw the shorts (which you can find on the internet somewhere).“But then I saw the shorts and I was like, oh, I get it. It’s sweet and down to earth and kind of indie. And then I was really into it. And then. they wrote this great script and they had these awesome shorts to back it.”
- The show started as a web series and turning it into a show was a big project! Samm Hodges described the process:
“I think in the shorts it was about a dog’s view of his own life. And then, we realized a dog has such an intimate view of the life of the owner. So, it became much more about the character of Nan and him as an angle on her life, 'cause he sees all these moments when no one else was there. That was the shift, I think.”
- For the actors and creators, the goal is to connect with people on a level that a show never has before. It's important to focus on the relationship between their pet because it's one of the most significant relationships in a person's life. Allison Tolman expresses feelings on pet relationships. Spoiler – she personally is a cat owner.“I’ve had my cat for 17 years. She’s the longest standing relationship of my entire life, and I grew up with her. I’ve had her since I was 19 years old! So, the transformative power of like loving an animal and being in charge of this little life truly has affected the person that I am, because I grew up with this cat. I was a baby when I got this cat.
It’s a love story that I think is universal for a lot of people, because a lot of people are pet owners and love their animals but it’s not something that we really focus on. We focus on romantic love or familial love, but nobody really talks about what a profound thing it is to love an animal.”
- The show focuses a lot on how the dog feels. It will really make you think about what you do or say to your pets. Samm Hodges explains:“Martin’s always asking if he matters. Like do I matter? There’s so much comedy and reality to that. He’s like he’s a mutt in the backyard of Pittsburg asking do I matter. And if he matters, then we all kind of matter. You know, that’s something about that I like.”
- The show basically is about a dog with human anxieties “existential angst” as Director, Samm Hodges said. Isn't that interesting to think about?
- Downward Dog is only 8 episodes long because the creators wanted each episode to be strong and meaningful.
- Martin the dog AKA Ned, is “his own man,” which is how Allison Tolman put it. He's well trained but kinda just does whatever he wants and a lot of that “improv” ends up in the show.
- The dog is never put into situations where he's stressed out. He does natural dog things like eat, sleep, play, and walk. They don't force him to do anything he doesn't want to do.
- There are other dogs on set to make them feel comfortable around people, because Ned is owned by the trainers who have a group of dogs that work on gigs like this. Allison said it's like his friends are visiting. “We had different dogs on our set all the time. It was just like Ned’s friend was visiting today.”
- Every scene in the show with the cat and the dog are all camera tricks. The animals don't actually interact with one another on the set.
- It's a show about adults. A show about an adult without children. So, there are some adult scenes that may not be the best for kids. However, it's ABC so the adult moments are very limited.
- Samm Hodges, the Director and voice of Martin, actually grew up with a stutter. His voice isn't polished or perfect, which is what made it so perfect for this role. I mean, a dog would most likely mumble and not be very well-spoken.
- The writers of the show had a rule to look at every joke from a human perspective and dog's perspective. That's why a lot of the scenarios that we will see are so very relatable!
We finished up our interview with a nice photo with the cast!
All-new comedy “Downward Dog” will premiere in a special sneak peek on WEDNESDAY, MAY 17 (9:31–10:00 p.m. EDT), following the season finale of “Modern Family.”
The series, the first network comedy to have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, will move to its regular time period, Tuesday nights at 8:00–8:30 p.m. EDT, with its second episode, beginning May 23, on The ABC Television Network.
Continue watching on Tuesdays 8/7c p.m.
In the series premiere airing May 17, “Pilot,” Martin battles loneliness and the need for Nan’s unconditional attention, while she struggles with a breakup and Martin’s recent bad behavior as he reacts to her newly busy work schedule.
“Downward Dog” stars Allison Tolman as Nan, Lucas Neff (“Raising Hope”) as Jason, Nan’s ex-boyfriend; Kirby Howell-Baptiste (“Love”) as Jenn, Nan’s best friend and co-worker; and Barry Rothbart (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) as Kevin, Nan’s boss.
Guest starring Mo Collins as Kim, Maria Bamford as Pepper, DaJuan Johnson as Tristen, Rachna Katau as Gwen, and Ned as Martin.
“Pilot” is written by Michael Killen & Samm Hodges and directed by Michael Killen.
“Downward Dog” series creators Michael Killen and Samm Hodges executive produce with Mosaic’s Jimmy Miller and Sam Hansen, and Animal Media’s Kathy Dzubiek. Showrunners Kat Likkel and John Hoberg also executive produce. The series is produced by Legendary Television and ABC Studios.
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