Uggie – A Chance Encounter

I recently watched The Artist, a film of cinematic genius at the cinema. It is witty, charming, surprising and wonderful. I found myself smiling to myself remembering meeting the famous doggie Uggie in the bar of a central London hotel. It turned out he was residing there for a couple of weeks with his owner Omar from LA. One of his appearances on TV was on the Graham Norton show on BBC 1 where he entertained guests whilst skateboarding across the set.

Uggie at the Arch Bar

The hotel in question is The Arch London on Great Cumberland Place. It has a very cosy and quaint bar and a fine restaurant called Hunter 436. I work in the drinks industry and whilst perched at the bar chatting to the staff, I noticed a beautiful dog in the corner. He was awfully well behaved but there was something about him: a sort of doggie star quality. I spoke to Uggie’s owner, a charming man named Omar Van Muller, who happily told me about his famous pooch. Van Muller had saved Uggie from an uncertain fate after two previous owners rejected him as being too wild. Since then, Uggie has worked as a touring dog performer and then moved onto commercials and films. He has already won the Palm Dog award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and also appeared in Water with Elephants alongside Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

The Artist itself is directed by Michel Hazanavicious. Set in the late 1920s in Hollywood, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a successful and loved silent movie idol. During the premiere of his latest film, Valentin meets Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), a star-struck extra and aspiring actress. The two are attracted to each other and Peppy is given a small dancing role in his next picture. As their romance progresses, Peppy’s career begins to take off, and Valentin fears that the talkies will ruin him as his roles dry up. The film then focuses on the relationships between the couple and those around them. Uggie, however, is the undoubted star of the film with many critics describing him as: “stealing every scene.”

The film is one of the most touching and enigmatic films I have seen in a long while. I was brought up watching films by such greats as Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy so that The Artist follows in this genre brought me great pleasure. What has been quite a surprise is how a relatively small film from France has caught the eye of one of the largest film moguls in the world – Harvey Weinstein who has then converted a low budget, off beat movie into a global phenomenon. It is a pure joy to watch: no amount of money can replace the feel good feeling you embrace throughout the movie. The acting is flawless, extracting emotion and humour from a simple but classic storyline. In summary, I’d argue that it is a must see for 2012.

The latest on Uggie is despite “retiring” from showbusiness, Uggie was named as Nintendo’s first ever spokesdog in March for a new advert in the US with Mario Bros. In his first advert, Uggie sports an unusual tie as he heads into work at Nintendo HQ. He also plays a bit of NIntendogs + Cats, meets Mario and takes care of proceedings as the new boss. Surreal but very amusing.

There is also now a Facebook group with over 17,000 members devoted to him.

Despite his “retirement”, Uggie is still very much in demand and this cute doggie will not be leaving showbusiness just yet….

Image courtesy of Alexandra Abrahams
Video courtesy of Alexandra Abrahams on YouTube / CityConnectNews