From actor/director Ken Marino, the romantic comedy Dog Days follows an eclectic ensemble of characters, both human and canine, which includes Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev), a focused and determined newscaster who’s learning to navigate single life while dealing with the on-screen chemistry she has with her equally single new co-host, former NFL star Jimmy Johnston (Tone Bell). When Elizabeth begins dating Jimmy and the two go through normal ups-and-downs, she turns to her dog’s therapist (Tig Notaro) for advice. The film also stars Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Jon Bass, Thomas Lennon, Tig Notaro, Finn Wolfhard and Ron Cephas Jones.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Nina Dobrev talked about her desire to do a sweet movie for the whole family, adopting her own puppy just prior to the shoot, how collaborative director Ken Marino was, trying to keep a straight face during her scenes with Tig Notaro, why her co-star Tone Bell is such a great teammate, re-teaming with him on their new CBS comedy series Fam, how she ended up writing her own script, her desire to voice an animated character, and what she’s most looking forward to with the next xXx film, which is set to shoot later this year.
Collider: This is such a ridiculously sweet movie. Was that part of the appeal of doing something like this, especially when you get to spend time on set, all day, with just the cutest dogs, ever?
NINA DOBREV: That was a huge part of me wanting to be in this movie, yeah. I just also adopted a puppy, maybe three weeks before I read the script. I’m an animal lover, anyway, but on top of that, I had a new puppy, and the movie guaranteed that I would be around puppies all day. It was a no-brainer for me, absolutely.
What kind of personality would you say that your dog has, and what do you think your dog says about you?
DOBREV: I do think that dogs are a reflection of their owners, and Maverick and I are no exception. She is very energetic in the morning, almost a little schizophrenic, and has a lot of energy. And also like me, by the end of the night, gets very, very lethargic and likes to cuddle, and settle with Netflix and just chill. That’s me, to a T.
What’s the craziest thing that you’ve ever gotten or done for your dog?
DOBREV: She’s been on planes since I got her. I feel like Maverick has been on more planes than most humans are. She travels with me, almost everywhere I go.
It seems like this is a set that could have been very chaotic, with all of the dogs running around. What was it like to work with Ken Marino, as a director? Was he able to keep everything pretty well under control with not just the humans, but all of the dogs?
DOBREV: Yeah. Ken was very, very level-headed and calm. He was really cool about ad-libs. It felt like a very collaborative process. He was an amazing director and a very great energy to have on set because it was very relaxed. It didn’t feel like we were working. It felt like we were just having fun, and we truly, truly had a great time making this movie.
This is a character where other people in her life or that are around her, see her as someone who is uptight and solely focused on work. How would you describe her?
DOBREV: Oh, my god, I couldn’t agree more. Watching the film, I was almost annoyed at how uptight my character is, in this movie. I wanted to tell her to loosen up, so I agree with all of her co-workers in the film. That’s why I love my character’s journey so much. From the beginning to the end of the movie, you see her really grow and change, and be influenced by Jimmy’s energy. She ends up becoming a much more relaxed person because of the love that she found with Jimmy, and the love that she got because of her dog, that she wouldn’t have received, if both of their dogs hadn’t connected and allowed for them to connect, too.
Do you think she sees herself as uptight, or do you think she just sees herself as focused and determined?
DOBREV: No, Elizabeth believes that she is just focused and determined. She is a career-driven woman who doesn’t see her own flaws. She’s in her own bubble, obviously. It takes her awhile to realize that she needs to make some changes.