Josh Peck returns to TV on July 21 with Disney Plus’ “Turner & Hooch,” a continuation of the 1989 Tom Hanks film of the same name. Here, Peck plays the son of the character portrayed by Hanks in the original, also named Scott Turner. The younger Turner is a U.S. Marshal who similarly finds his life turned upside down by an ultra-slobbery, lovable canine named Hooch. As he navigates his job, he comes to learn the dog he didn’t want may be the very partner he needs.
Your character is the son of the late Scott Turner, previously played by Tom Hanks. Did you feel pressure stepping into his shoes?
He’s such a legend. I think I was aided by the fact that he’s in such rarefied air, I’ve looked up to him for so long that I never had any delusions that I’d get anywhere close. But I think what was great was that this isn’t a remake. This is a continuation in certain respects. I’m playing his son. In many ways it was how do we honor the magic of what the original movie had and what Tom Hanks brought and try to infuse that into this new story?
Hooch is played by multiple dogs. What was it like having so many French Mastiffs as your co-star?
People keep asking me what it was like to work with a dog. No one’s asked Hooch what it was like to work with me. I don’t know, he could have thought I was a total dud. Me and the dogs we bonded right away because we both work well for treats, which is great. It’s funny, I think I was a dog person before I started the show, but about halfway through I realized, “Oh no, I’m a total dog person.” I don’t know whether that was because Hooch and I had just jumped out of a gigantic fountain where he was licking food off my face or I was being yanked down the street by one of our Hooches named Hammer, whose specialty was basically pulling me out of my shoes, he would pull so hard. I just fell in love with these animals and each of them had their own specialty. We had Mimi, our only female dog, who was great at picking up things; and we had Obie, who was our older dog who was kind of happily just glad to sit around and just look cute.
When I had my screen test, they said, “So you’re going to be auditioning with a real dog — be ready to improvise, be ready to work around the dog because we know that we might not get exactly what we need from them.” And it was in that moment that I thought, “Oh I’m working with smart people here who get it.”
What training did you do to prepare to play a U.S. Marshal?
I went on ride alongs with real US Marshals and spent a lot of time with our U.S. Marshal adviser, Scott Samuels. I did weapons training at Taran Tactical, where they did “John Wick.” When it was all said and done, I definitely felt a little bit more tough, like I could handle myself. But as far as the big stunts went, as much as I begged [executive producer] McG, he wouldn’t agree to flip a car over my head.
I think we all grow up and we know that [the Marshals] exist, but we don’t know a lot about them because the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies tend to have a little bit of a better publicist. You hear a lot about the DEA in movies, and even maybe the ATF, but I became a history buff about the U.S. Marshals, and they’re the oldest federal law enforcement agency in existence, started in 1789 by George Washington.
What does “Turner & Hooch” add to the landscape of law enforcement-centric shows?
It truly has something for everyone, whether it’s the action-adventure stuff [or] if you’re into the procedural, new bad guy every week. Then we’ve got a rom-com aspect and then the cute dog stuff and the broad physical comedy. I think the intention was to make something that could truly be a co-viewing experience where you could really care about these characters.
You’ve talked about feeling protective of “Drake and Josh” knowing how much it means to people. What’s it been like for you to see Drake Bell be arrested and the aftermath?
Similarly to everyone I’ve only seen and read what’s been out in the press, but it’s upsetting. It’s upsetting and it’s an unfortunate situation and it’s just disappointing.
How does it feel to know your career has had such a big and joyous impact on millennials and Gen-Z?
What I’m proud of with “Drake and Josh,” which I think gave it a lot of staying power, was that it was about a family. It was a super universal concept. And I think all the great sitcoms of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, it really boils down to something simple. And then you have the performers who bring their own comedic styling to it. So I think there were so many kids who could identify with having this stepbrother or stepsister or an evil little sister or a dopey dad, or whatever it was, and going through that experience. It means a lot to me the effect that it’s had. To know that you can do something that is your dream and that it also can leave a lasting, positive effect on people, what’s better than that? I definitely tried to sneak in some little “Drake and Josh”-isms into [“Turner & Hooch”]. I hope you catch them.
Things you didn’t know about Josh Peck:
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
Comedy hero: Dave Chappelle
Recent TV binges: “Shahs of Sunset,” “Shtisel,” “Jersey Shore”
Dream co-star: Toss-up among Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington and Guy Fieri
Favorite part about being a dad: “I created a friend for myself who really likes to do all the same things I like to do, which is go to the arcade and walk around the mall and eat at the food court.”
Favorite Tom Hanks movie: “Forrest Gump”