Pop Culture Pooches: Verdell from As Good As It GetsWed, August 08, 2012,
In 1997 Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won over audiences in the comedy As Good As It Gets. The movie involved an unlikely relationshop forming between a single mother and an obsessive-compulsive writer. For many audience members, though, the real star of the movie was Verdell, the dog that Jack Nicholson’s character grows extremely attached to over the course of the film. It’s a touching story: the dog-hating writer is forced to care for the pooch while a neighbor is in the hospital, but when the time comes to give the dog back he finds it difficult. No wonder the movie is so popular!
Verdell himself was the first exposure many people had to the brussels griffon breed (also known as griffon bruxellois). Six dogs played the character: Timer, Sprout, Debbie, Billy, Parfait and Jill. Jill was the lead, of sorts, handling many of the close-ups. Trainer Roger Schumacher raved, “when she came in, she just stood out – she had a look”.
Once the dogs were found an extensive 15-week training regiment began, trying to replicate the feeling of a dog who had been trained for two years, but in the end the goal was achieved and a classic character was born. “None of us were going to survive this film without being horribly upstaged by Jill,” joked actor Greg Kinnear. “She’s got these lashes and big eyes… and when she walks onto the set everybody just says ‘oooh’.”
Since As Good As It Gets Jill hasn’t done much acting, appearing only briefly in a movie called Carolina. She retired happily with trainer Matilda de Cagny and hung out with other famous dogs, such as Moose and Enzo, who played Eddie on Frasier. Not a bad retirement.
Photo credit: Gracie Films