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DOG DAYS

A Dog Is A Man's Best Friend
Every pack needs a leader, and the Dog Days team had their own Alpha Dog when Marino signed on to direct. Liddell recalls the process that brought Marino to the film: "we kind of tricked Ken into coming in to meet with us because we really wanted him. We loved How to Be a Latin Lover and we thought he'd be incredible for Dog Days. We gave him a different film script and he was like, 'Oh I'll meet with them' - so he came in to talk with us about that other script. We listened and then said, 'We could do that, but we're making this dog movie in Los Angeles and it's for families and kids.' And Ken said, 'I have kids! I love dogs! Let me read it.' And that's really what we wanted him to talk with us about, and it all worked out."

Whether it was really a trick or not, as Liddell jokes, having Marino at the helm made Dog Days an experience its cast members loved. "Ken's not only an actor's director but he's also a comedian's director," says Tone Bell. "He is so funny, and as a director, he just gets it. He really understands the heart of certain moments. He gets the funny, he gets the 'Go for it' attitude, he gets the 'Let's keep this scene tight and make it special' thing. We worked on a few shows together, and you know something is funny when a guy like Ken, who is really funny himself, laughs at it."

Hudgens couldn't agree more. "First of all, Ken is hysterical - we all know that through watching his work. And as a director, he's hysterical as well. He keeps things really light on set. He's supportive and really cares - he'll sit with you and rewrite scenes. He's just a blast to be around." Adds Adam Pally, "He lets you figure things out while still getting what he needs. He's very collaborative." Improvisation was a key to Marino's directing style for Cassidy, who adds, "We did long takes where we could just try different stuff, and it was super fun."

Rob Corddry, an old friend of Marino's, knew what he was getting into... but still wanted to be a part of the film anyway. The Daily Show, Children's Hospital and Hot Tub Time Machine comedy vet says, "I've been working with Ken for a long time. He's directed a lot of my shows and we've acted together, and Ken just gets markedly better as he goes on. I think he can do anything. He's fast and thorough and very confident." Joking about Marino ignoring W.C. Fields' famous advice to never work with animals or kid actors, Corddry riffs, "why Ken took on a movie with children and dogs in it, I don't know - he's just one of these jerks that likes a challenge...."

Adds Ron Cephas Jones, "Ken gives you time to try different takes. But he's also very focused on what he wants and the shots that he needs. And it's always great to work with a director that has some acting chops also." That enthusiasm runs in the family, Jasmine Cephas Jones says, "what I love about Ken is that he is an actor first, so he really knows how to talk to actors and make them feel comfortable. He basically just gives you freedom to explore ideas - nothing is strict, and it's a very loving environment."

While her dad didn't know Jasmine was cast until after production on Dog Days had already started, Jasmine says Marino called her early on. "Ken told me he saw me in Hamilton and really just loved my voice," she says. "It was his wife Erica Oyama's idea actually - she was like, 'Why don't you get Jasmine Cephas Jones for this role?' So, Ken called my agency and asked if I was available. I was happy and excited and honored to be able to do this."

Dobrev says she appreciated how Marino "knows what he wants in a scene and knows how to get there, but he also threw in ad-libbed lines. As an actor and as an artist, that's fun and liberating, to step outside of the box. It was great getting to work with Ken. He's a natural." Pally sums it up with a bit of fanboy appreciation: "Ken is a comedic idol of mine, from his time on The State, Wet Hot American Summer and Wanderlust. I got lucky, so when the opportunity came to work with him, I jumped on it."

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