September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs

Frank-Pug-400PX

© Melinda Dove | Dreamstime.com

When the sci-fi film “Men in Black” debuted in 1997, it became instantly popular. But no one expected a little pug to steal a scene from stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

The pug was an animal actor named Mushu and he played Frank in the film. He’s seen at a news kiosk with an alien and though he’s wearing clothes, moviegoers assumed he was a canine companion to the alien – till he opened his tough-talking little mouth and it’s revealed that he, too, is an alien. He was so comical yet loveable that audiences immediately fell in love with him.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld was so impressed with little Mushu that he expanded the role of Frank considerably when planning “Men in Black II” in 2002. In that film, Frank has become an employee at MIB Headquarters, becoming known as “Agent F”. He even wears a uniform resembling the white shirt, black tie and coat worn by the other agency employees.

Trainer Cristie Miele said that it was obvious on the set that Mushu loved to act. He had to be taught to do basic tricks for the film, such as sitting, staying, speaking and walking alongside a human actor and he excelled at these tasks. His biggest challenge was a complicated task where he was wearing a headset, presumably to radio back information to headquarters, while climbing inside the body of a dead alien. But Mushu/Frank came through the scene beautifully.

He bonded well with Will Smith on set and their rapport showed in their scenes together. By the time of this 2002 sequel, however, Mushu was 7 years old. He’d been barely more than a puppy when he appeared in the first film. In true Hollywood fashion, he spent time in the make-up department every day, having mascara applied to the areas around his beard where the hair had started to turn grey.

Between film roles, Mushu lived comfortably at home on a 20-acre ranch with 8 other dogs. He sadly passed away just prior to the beginning of filming for “Men in Black III”, but his photo is shown in a frame in one of the film’s scenes, a small tribute to the little pug who captured hearts.