September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs
Animal actor Max McCarter was 5 years old when he auditioned for the role of Milo in the 1994 film “The Mask”. Director Chuck Russell had seen many dogs and narrowed the field down to a Corgi, a Scottie, and the Jack Russell terrier Max. He found Max to be “the most perky and alive” of all the candidates. Yet Max almost lost the role when it was discovered that another upcoming film, “Clean Slate” was going to feature a Jack Russell. “The Mask” producers didn’t want to seem to be competing with the other film by using the same type of dog. But Max’s personality and acting ability won out.
Max was hired to play Milo opposite star Jim Carrey, for a fee of $2000 per week. Carrey said of his co-star that Max “always hit his mark”, meaning he was where he should be in a scene, and doing what he should be doing. Carrey was fond of Max, which played well on screen. A scene where Milo tries on the Mask earned him a place in movie history as one of the funniest scenes and certainly it was accomplished in part because of Max’s energy level and excitement about everything in life. Off-camera, when Max became excited he drank large amounts of water, which had to be accounted for in potty breaks prior to filming. He was also known to consume his favorite training treat, Fig Newtons, as often as possible.
When reporters “interviewed” the terrier during press stories, he tried to entice them to play, bringing them his ever-present tennis ball for a game. He charmed every member of the press, including NBC’s “Today Show” movie critic Gene Shalit, who said referring to Max’s Mask character, “Milo makes Lassie look like a klutz.” Max arrived by limo for the premiere of “The Mask”, as befitting the co-star of Jim Carrey.
Max didn’t always have success in films. Owner Joe McCarter said that although he was well-received by producers, they often said he was too big or too small for a role. Prior to “The Mask” and its sequel, he had only appeared as a space alien in disguise in “Mom and Dad Save the World”, in 1992. Following his role as Milo, he appeared (as a female named Audrey) in “Mr. Accident”, in 2000.
Max’s career and personal life became less known following that film and in true Hollywood style, his passing has remained a mystery. Although the lifespan of a Jack Russell is fairly long (generally 13-16 years), it was assumed that he passed away in the early 2000s.