Willem Dafoe & Julianne Nicholson Talk ‘Togo’, Disney+, and Ericson Core’s Great Cinematography

     April 1, 2020

With Disney+ recently launching in Europe while so many people are stuck at home, I wanted to shine a light on a great, original Disney+ movie that you may have missed: Togo. If you’re not familiar with the film, Togo tells the untold true story of the sled dog, Togo, and his musher Leonhard Seppala (Willem Dafoe). Back in 1925, a diphtheria outbreak hit Nome, Alaska, and a few people and their dogs worked together to transport the treatment serum across many miles to save the community. While the dog Balto has historically gotten most of the credit, since he finished the relay, it was actually Togo that handled the longest and hardest part of the journey. The film tells the behind-the-scenes story about what really happened, and features a fantastic performance by Dafoe. Trust me, if you want to see a great family friendly film, you should absolutely check out Togo. The film also stars Julianne Nicholson as Leonhard Seppala’s wife, Constance Seppala.

togo-posterBefore the film premiered on Disney+, I sat down with Willem Dafoe and Julianne Nicholson. They talked about the various challenges of filming on location, the great cinematography by director Ericson Core, memorable moments from filming, what they knew about the story, how a lot of the action sequences were done practically, and a lot more.

Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis and trailer. For more on Togo, read Matt Goldberg’s review.

Willem Dafoe & Julianne Nicholson:

  • How much did they know about the story?
  • How you’ll probably cry while watching the film.
  • The great cinematography by Ericson Core.
  • How a lot of the action sequences were done practically.
  • Did they rehearse or meet on the first day of filming?
  • Did they get a free subscription to Disney+ by being in the film?
  • Did they leave set wanting to adopt a dog?
  • Memorable moments from filming.
  • How they never knew what they’d be filming due to the weather.

Image via Disney

Here’s the official synopsis for Togo followed by the trailer:

When a deadly epidemic strikes the town of Nome, Alaska, and the only cure is more than 600 miles away, the town looks to champion dogsled trainer Leonhard Seppala (Willem Dafoe) to help transport an antitoxin serum. Seppala turns to Togo, an unassuming, undersized and aging Siberian husky, to be his lead. His wife (Julianne Nicholson) has championed Togo since his days as a mischievous puppy who could dig himself out of any situation—literally and figuratively—and Seppala, having observed Togo’s loyalty and tenacious spirit, knows Togo offers his only chance of surviving this mission. Undaunted by the massive storm heading their way or his wife’s urging him not to go, Seppala and Togo set out on the deadliest leg of what becomes a larger relay involving multiple mushers and gale-force winds and a wind chill factor dipping to 70 degrees below zero with little to no visibility. It is a harrowing journey on which Togo saves Seppala from certain death, causing the veteran musher to grasp the depth and intensity of his feelings for his lead dog, even as he risks running him to his death. They complete the task in time with Togo going down in history as one of the greatest sled dogs ever, but it is this unbreakable bond between man and dog which is the ultimate prize—and which truly saves Seppala. An untold true story starring four-time Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe as Leonhard Seppala, “Togo” is directed by Ericson Core and written by Tom Flynn and produced by Kim Zubick, with Douglas S. Jones serving as executive producer. The film also stars Christopher Heyerdahl, Richard Dormer, Michael Greyeyes, Michael McElhatton and Michael Gaston.

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