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Gail Mancuso Interview: A Dog's Journey

A Dog’s Journey ( the sequel to the heartwarming film A Dog’s Purpose) brings back Bailey the Dog (voiced by Josh Gad) and his “boy” Ethan (played once again by Dennis Quaid from A Dog’s Purpose) as Bailey finds a new purpose...protecting Ethans granddaughter CJ.

For the sequel, two-time Emmy Award winning director Gail Mancuso makes her feature film debut. We got a chance to speak to her about how this film came to be, how do you prepare to direct dogs for a movie, and much more.

Screen Rant: Hi...no dog here. I saw dogs in the other interviews and I’m not seeing one here...that’s ok….

Gail Mancuso: I had one in my lap earlier, but then he had to go out and relieve himself.

Screen Rant: Ah... good reason actually. Gail, after years of television..predominantly comedy television...this is your first feature. What lead you to making this finally being your first feature film?

Gail Mancuso: Yeah...it’s interesting, I never would have thought I would have done this kind of movie as my first feature. I thought for sure it would be a comedy, but this came to me through Gavin Polone, who I’ve work with through television, who is a producer on this movie as well as Holly Bario from Amblin and uh...they know that I have five dogs…(laughs)

Screen Rant: That’s kind of the résumé…

Gail Mancuso: Yes...and I think it’s really important that...in fact everyone that worked on this movie had a dog...or has had some relationship with a dog...that doesn’t sound right. But anyway we’re gonna go with it because that’s the comedy in me.

Dennis Quaid as Ethan and Bailey in A Dog's Journey

Screen Rant: (Laughs)

Gail Mancuso: So I think it shows on the screen. I think if you love dogs, I think it’s really important because you’re just working a little extra harder and you know their behavior and you wanna capture that in the movie.

Screen Rant: I can definitely see that. The dogs are so lovingly shot, every time another dog or puppy shot comes in you can hear the whole audience go “ok...alright.”

Gail Mancuso: Puppies!

Screen Rant: So here’s an interesting question, or what I think is an interesting question here’s hoping, was there any moment during production that you considered doing maybe more direct references to the dogs in the first film and their owners. You know Bailey goes through a lot of lives and there were a couple of lives before he went back to Ethan in A Dog’s Purpose, did you ever thought about , “Oh wouldn’t it be cool if we could touch base on an older owner from the previous film even if it’s not from the book.” Did you ever consider doing that?

Gail Mancuso: No, because even adapting this movie from the novel, you have to make it smaller because obviously the novel is longer and it’s a little bit more detailed. So we have, I think the movie is an hour and forty five minutes to be able to tell our story economically. Our main concern was the CJ character and we didn’t want to ver too far off from that. So we stayed with her, and how the dog Bailey was helping CJ through her life.

Screen Rant: Makes sense.

Gail Mancuso: Yeah.

Screen Rant: How do you even begin to prep to direct this many dogs?

Gail Mancuso: Well luckily I had a great dog trainer, Bonnie, so she preps the dogs. I cast them. She would bring pictures of dogs to me, tell me what their temperament was and then I go play with them and stuff, but in terms of...uh..you know we would go into the script and this is what kind of trick I would want and then she would go , “Ok that’s good, but maybe we should do this.” So it was a very very coordinated effort between me and her.

CJ and Bailey in A Dog's Journey

Screen Rant: Ok...I have a weird pitch for you.

Gail Mancuso: DO IT!

Screen Rant: In case they do another movie.

Gail Mancuso: DO IT!

Screen Rant: A Dog’s Purpose. A Dog’s Journey. A Dog’s Vengeance. (Shows picture of fake movie poster)

Gail Mancuso: (Laughs) That’s amazing. I love it. That’s so cute.

Screen Rant: Bailey is now a cop.

Gail Mancuso: THAT’S SO CUTE. I love it. Thats awesome.

More: Dennis Quaid and Marg Helgenberger Interview for A Dog's Journey

Key Release Dates
  • A Dog's Journey (2019) release date: May 17, 2019
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