With her thick auburn hair, striking eyes and sleek physique, it’s no surprise Nicolas Cage’s latest co-star Brandy landed her first ever acting role without so much as an audition. “She has beautiful eyes,” says Brandy’s caregiver, Mariah Flood. “That’s what [the filmmakers] really loved about her, is that she had a lot of expression and color in her eyes.”
Brandy is no starry-eyed ingenue. She’s a pig. A purebred Kunekune, to be precise, and this summer she made her feature film debut alongside Cage in “Pig,” which had its European premiere at the Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival on Wednesday (the film is already available in the U.S. on VOD and hits U.K. cinemas on Friday).
In the film, Brandy plays a truffle-hunting pig opposite Cage’s off-the-grid erstwhile chef. After she is brutally kidnapped, Cage goes to extreme lengths to track her down, his love for his porcine companion palpable in every scene. Those who know her suggest it’s a role Brandy was born to play.
“She is just a diva,” says Flood, who raised the scene-stealing swine on the Oregon farm she shares with her husband Curt. “She knew it from the day she was born. Some pigs kind of like, waddle over. She’s very just prim and proper and trots nicely. She does that all the time.”
The filmmakers called Flood, a registered Kunekune breeder, out of the blue one day, on the hunt for a cream or ginger-coloured pig. With her elegant trot and nose permanently stuck up in the air, Brandy was a shoo-in. “She’s very snooty,” Flood says. “Like ‘I can do whatever I want.’” (Brandy was not available for comment.)
Despite looking the part, she had to undertake weeks of training. Encouraged with grapes, apples and grain Brandy learned to sit, step back and jump. “She is very food motivated,” says Flood.
Cage may have had top billing on the poster, but it’s Brandy who nabbed the title role and the pig quickly took to life on set, bringing with her a sizeable entourage comprised of around a dozen people, including Flood, an animal trainer, numerous assistants and a humane officer.
She had her own trailer (albeit a four by eight animal trailer) to ensure adequate downtime in case she got anxious and an assistant would bring her “homemade deluxe salads” for breakfast and lunch every day. As befitting a diva, strict instructions were issued to the cast and crew that no-one was to chase or touch the pig. (“They can get spooked easily,” Flood explains.)
Still, she and her co-star soon developed a rapport. “Nicolas Cage was great,” says Flood. “He was very calm, very patient, which made it super easy. So he was awesome working with her and that was really comforting. Alex Wolff was hilarious. He absolutely loved her.”
“[Cage] is very interested in the pigs and their lifestyle and their behavior, so he was interested in the subject matter,” says Flood’s husband Curt. “I think that he wanted to kind of understand this person that he was playing. You know, he took his role very seriously. And he took his job seriously. I think it obviously reflected in the film. Because you do get the idea that he has an attachment and a connection with this animal and I think part of that was because he genuinely was curious about his co-star.”
It wasn’t all glamour, though; after just a couple of weeks of training Brandy needed a break. “She was starting to get frustrated by all the attention,” says Flood. In fact, she reveals, Brandy has already retired from the business.
“It was a one-time diva star pig.”