This week I had the chance to chat with Julia Jones about her role as Agent Munoz in the Lionsgate film Think Like a Dog, premiering on Digital and On Demand June 9, 2020. The film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD the same day.
Sometimes 15 minutes doesn't feel like a lot; sometimes it's enough to enjoy a few good laughs and feel like you've chatted with someone and known them for a long time. Julia Jones was easy to talk to and loved talked about her role as Agent Munoz in Think Like a Dog as well as some of her other roles. Read on for the full interview.
Talking Nerdy, Twilight Saga, and “The Mandalorian” with Think Like a Dog's Julia Jones
How did you get this role, or what made you interested in this role in particular?
Jones: I really responded to the script. It’s about a little boy whose science project goes awry and he forms a telepathic connection with his dog, and I had a dog growing up that I was really close to and I think felt in some way that I was connected to her, maybe telepathically, why not? And that was just very sort of sweet and personal to me.
And I actually didn't think that it was necessarily something that I was right for because it was a comedy and it was something different than anything I'd ever done, but I just put myself on tape thinking, “Really, why not, for fun really.”
And then, I forgot about it. And then I got a call saying would you like to come to, or can you come to the table read? And you know, that was, I was so excited to do that. So I went and did that and had a great time, and everybody was really lovely and funny, and there's a lot of chemistry. And so that's, that's how that happened.
It looks like it would have been the kind of movie where you have a lot of fun on set and I think that not all movies at least when you watch them look like you have a lot of fun so lighthearted and find my girls love that we watched it last night and they thought it was a blast. You said you had a dog growing up and I think most of us if you're a dog person, we tend to be pretty close to your dog. Are there things you would have expected your dog to say to you, are things that you could relate to based on the script. What kind of things would your dog have said to you?
Jones: She was very comforting. She was this large black, giant Schnauzer and she was super protective and she was the sort of dog that would position herself equidistant from every member of the family so that she could get to everybody at the same time.
I don’t know she just was a really soothing presence all the time. Steady, constant, made you feel like everything was going to be okay if you had a bad day at school, she was there for you always. Like everything is going to be okay, she probably—I feel like she was putting that in my head all the time. Helpful when you’re a kid.
When you work with dogs on set they tend to be really well trained, but how was it working with these dogs on set ?
Jones: I had a great time. I, of course, had very little to do with orchestration or making sure that they were on their mark and doing what they were supposed to be doing. I love having dogs on set. I think they are this very calm, light presence making people relax when they are around them.
And these dogs were extremely professional, I would say, maybe at times maybe some of the more professional individuals on set. And it is inherently very funny to try to get a dog to do what these dogs were asked to do and it led to an energy that is similar to what you described on set.
We had a director who—our director, Gil, who would literally in rehearsals, he would play the dog, so he was often on all fours jumping up and down before they brought the dogs out, and I had definitely never seen that before. Trooper.
So what were some of your favorite moments on set? Clearly Gil being a dog must have been one of them.
Jones: Yeah, honestly that was one of my favorites ones, because we also had this other element of filming in New Orleans where a lot of our filming was just on this residential street in this house and the neighborhood was a part of the film. One of the neighbors let us use their house for makeup because the trailers were too far away so we would go and do makeup touch-ups in her house. “Sure, just come on in.”
And then you would get to work at like 8 or 9 in the morning and you’d get out of the car on the set and there would be all the people with beach chairs and bottles of white wine and they would set up rows and just sit around and watch you, and it’s kind of like doing theatre, like a drive-in, more like a live drive-in, but it was this great community production.
That’s what it felt like, it was really fun, positive energy. And then you add the dogs and the kids and the comedy and you’re like, “This is my job?”
That sounds like a great way to spend all of your days working.
Jones: Yeah, it was a good summer.
I remember reading somewhere that you love to read. How does your love of books impact the way in which you prepare for a role?
Jones: You try to understand things in which you haven’t experienced or you try to understand what it’s like to live in a place you’ve never been or just different things that are going on that are outside of the little world you inhabit.
I think it’s the broadening of your perspective that you can get from reading is the starting point for acting in a lot of ways for me because you’re as an actor kind of tapping into experiences that you often haven’t had in your real life.
So reading is a huge part of it. Research is a huge part of most of the roles that I take on. And it's, I think always a default, like, if I'm not quite sure where to start or what to do, it's either, you know, a book or a film or something, it's some kind of content to just watch and just see, you know, what makes you think of or how it connects to what you're working on. And you just kind of like gather a lot of information and just see what sticks.
And with some of the things that you've worked on like “Longmire,” and obviously the Twilight Saga, those were books before they became a TV show and movies. Were those, are those things that you read first before you got involved?
Jones: You know, I find that have actually done like a lot of things that were books before. And it depends. Twilight, I definitely read before we filmed…I mean, because you'd pick those books up and you can't put them down, first of all, but, you also want to be as much on the page of your audience as you can.
And a lot of your audience has read and feels like they already have relationships with these characters. And so you want to kind of honor that.
“Longmire.” Television is a little bit different because it happens faster and you don't tend to have as much time to prepare. Like, I probably would've read “Longmire” if honestly, I had had more than 48 hours before I had to get on a plane and start filming.
So, it depends, I don't have a rule about that if sometimes you just feel like, “Oh, I should, I want to know all of this.” And sometimes you just wanna come up with it yourself.
How has sort of this whole quarantine thing impacted projects and how you work or hasn't it like how just, you know, obviously things are a little different right now for everybody?
Jones: Yeah. I mean, it's been a complete and total shift for me, at least with work, and the industry, because, you know, nothing's filming. So, I think that other people, not so much actors, but, I think writers and like producers and people who were involved in development have been really busy.
I think that there's a lot kind of going on behind the scenes and people are trying to get ready to put things into production as soon as it's safe to do so. But I, fortunately, am now have been working on something that is in development. I've been able to sort of be in a prep mode and it's been really nice to have that as an outlet.
But, before that started up, it was extremely shocking to just go from, you know, like 90 miles an hour to just like nothing. I mean, people I worked with who I would talk to every day literally kind of called and said, “Bye like, we're not going to talk for a while.” You just like, “What is happening?”
Obviously you've been involved in some incredible projects, right? Like The Mandalorian, Westworld, ER, Longmire, Goliath, the Twilight Saga, and obviously like a ton of other things. But those I think are kind of the ones that tend to have really large fan bases. What's it like to be a part of those and kind of come into things, especially ones where you've come in kind of part way through where they've already had these almost like cult followings when you've joined?
Jones: Right. It varies, there's like different elements to each one. Because for example, like Twilight and “Westworld” are, so different experiences. But one thing that is a through-line with those things like with “The Mandalorian,” “Westworld,” and Twilight is you feel like, I mean, you always sort of feel like you have a family when you're working on a film, but it's like you're joining a family, a huge family. And the connection that you have with the cast and the crew and the filmmakers, there's an added element to it. Cause it's not just about getting together and telling the story. That's very beloved by millions of people, but you're also kind of in it together, you know, like you're kind of like a traveling circus or something, and you kind of go through, you have to navigate the reception of it as well. And it is nice to do that with your colleagues as opposed to just kind of off on your own.
Yeah. We're so we're huge star Wars fans in this house.
Jones: yeah, Star Wars was incredible
**I couldn't miss the opportunity to talk to Leah Clearwater about Twilight.**
I'm not ashamed to admit I was a huge Twilight fan back in the day. I did the whole, like, we're going to watch every single one when they drop in the theater and they'd, you know, play them all over again as the new ones release.
I read all the books in like one winter break and my now 15-year-old daughter wanted to watch them all. And I was like, “Sure, great. We can watch them.” We used to live on the East coast, and we now live in the Pacific Northwest just like an hour and a half from the filming locations in Washington.
So my daughter's like, “Oh, we need to do a trip!” And we had this whole car trip plan to go do Forks and the whole thing before this whole quarantine.
Jones: So did you do it?
No, I've been to a couple of the filming locations with friends, but, now that we're in quarantine, we didn't go do one with my daughter, but we'll do it as soon as things open up.
My final question for you is when the new Midnight Sun book comes out, is that something on your reading list?
Jones: Um, yeah. Yeah. I've come this far, why stop now?
About Think Like a Dog
This post contains affiliate links. Don’t miss the paws-itively heartwarming family comedy Think Like a Dog, premiering on Digital, and On Demand June 9 from Lionsgate. The film will be available on Blu-ray (plus Digital), and DVD the same day. A doggone good time for all ages, the film stars Gabriel Bateman (Annabelle, Benji, Playmobil: The Movie), Kunal Nayyar (TV’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Trolls, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Julia Jones (TV’s “The Mandalorian,” “Westworld,” The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Janet Montgomery (The Space Between Us, TV’s “New Amsterdam”), Bryan Callen (TV’s “The Goldbergs,” “Schooled,” The Hangover), Todd Stashwick as the voice of “Henry” (TV’s “12 Monkeys,” “Phineas and Ferb”), with Megan Fox (Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Jennifer’s Body), and Josh Duhamel (Transformers: The Last Knight), and is written and directed by Daytime Emmy® nominee Gil Junger (1997, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, TV’s “Ellen”) and produced by Andrew Lazar (American Sniper, 10 Things I Hate About You), Cory Chen (upcoming The Doorman), and Linshu Zhang.
Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox star in this whimsical family comedy about a boy and his dog, and a science project that will change all of their lives forever. Think Like a Dog follows 12-year-old Oliver, a tech prodigy whose middle-school science fair experiment goes awry, creating a telepathic connection between him and his furry friend, Henry. The bond brings Oliver and Henry even closer as they join forces to comically overcome complications at school, and help Oliver’s parents rekindle their marriage along the way.
The Think Like a Dog special features include an audio commentary with writer-director Gil Junger and a making-of featurette, allowing an inside look at what it took to make this family-friendly flick. The Think Like a Dog Blu-ray and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.99 and $19.98, respectively.