Will Smith Share How He Tried to Adopt Abbey the Dog, His ‘Brilliant Actress’ Costar From ‘I Am Legend’

While promoting Bad Boys: Ride or Die, Will Smith sat down for a Hot Ones interview. One of the questions Sean Evans asked Smith if it was true that he tried to adopt Abbey, his German Shepherd costar “Samantha,” from I Am Legend.

Will Smith Tells the Story Trying to Adopt Abbey the Dog, His Brilliant Actress Costar From I Am Legend

Smith, who has spoken about Abbey many times since the movie’s 2007 release, is still as enthusiastic as ever to discuss the “brilliant actress.” In the clip below, Smith shares how Abbey seemingly has a human-level of understanding. First, he jokes (or maybe it’s true?) that he could ask Abbey where his phone is and Abbey would point it out for him. Then he commemorates Abbey’s incredible death scene performance. The tear-jerking scene involved Smith having to choke Abbey, who first bites and thrashes around, before passing away… Smith is still amazed how Abbey was able to act aggressively then immediately “play dead.” Since its release, fans of the movie often comment on how much they loved Abbey and how it’s the saddest movie scene they’ve ever seen… Smith was also clearly in love with Abbey and pleaded to adopt his canine costar, but was turned down by her owner. [Clip below starts at Abbey’s story at the 8:39 mark]

Abbey was two years old while filming I Am Legend and was adopted from a run-down kennel not long before filming started. We last heard an official statement about her in a 2018 Lad Bible interview with her owner/trainer Steve Berens. Berens told Lad Bible, “We got her in the middle of July and then went to camera towards the end of September, so that was a pretty quick transition. She wasn’t coming from a training foundation – she really knew nothing. She was trained a lot of the basics that you need for film work, and then directly for those scenes. It was stressful at first, but she really came on good. She’s a good dog and she really learned fast.”

Abbey Dog Actor retired after I Am Legend movie
Credit: Steve Berens

At the time, Barens said Abbey was happily enjoying her retirement at 13 years old. With the interview six years ago, we’ll have to assume Abbey has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Berens has been a Hollywood animal trainer since the 1980s, with credits including 1990s hits such as Little Nicky with Adam Sandler and Yes Man with Jim Carrey, all the way up to recent TV series like Stranger Things.

In April, Will Smith posted a tribute to Abbey on his Instagram, with most of the comments mentioning how the powerful scene Smith and Abbey shared made them cry.

Current leading canine actor Messi also gave an equally impressive “play dead” scene in Anatomy of a Fall, where see pretends to overdose on drugs, but is able to snap out of it. Messi’s performance won her the 2023 Palm Dog Award.

Messi the Palm Dog Award winner 2023 Cannes Film Festival
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