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About The Animals
Obviously, to play Hopkins, Viggo Mortensen would have to spend many hours on and around horses. The actor turned out to be an ideal choice, as he has been riding horses since his youth, and his recent starring role as Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings” trilogy also required some horsemanship.

That said, Mortensen still needed a refresher course. "I rode a lot as a child, but from age ten on, I hadn't ridden much. There was riding in ‘Lord of the Rings,' but it had been a good part of a year since then.” For training, the filmmakers turned to Rex Peterson. For Mortensen, an actor known for his dedication to his craft, Peterson proved an ideal mentor.

"We were fortunate to have Viggo,” says the gruff trainer, who does not hand out compliments lightly. "I can't think of another actor that rides better. And he's worked very hard at it.” Mortensen is quick to return the compliment. "Rex was strict, but for the best possible reasons. He was a really good teacher… and a perfectionist.”

Though preparing to play Hopkins required Mortensen to spend hours every day training with Peterson, he never complained. "You have to be able to adapt,” he explains, "I mean, they're not cars… they're not machines. They're like us and they have good and bad days. Sometimes they do unexpected things, and you have to be ready.” Not only did Peterson serve as trainer, but also adviser to Mortensen on cowboy attitudes – to the point that a joke on the set called Viggo "Rex, Jr.” Peterson dismisses this, but acknowledges, "Viggo does come and ask me questions. I grew up on a ranch and didn't come into the movie business until I was 20-something years old. I've known a lot of different cowboys, and this business has given me the opportunity to meet many, many different horsemen. I've been very fortunate in that respect.

"But sometimes Viggo would ask me, ‘How would you say this?' ‘Viggo, I didn't live in the 1890s. I don't know.' But this all comes from Viggo's desire for this production to be as authentic as possible. I put everything into this movie – I'm here, daylight to dark, every day, and it's good to see other people with the same level of commitment.”

Peterson is a veteran of 25 years in the film industry, serving on such films as "The Horse Whisperer,” "Runaway Bride,” "Black Beauty,” and "The Black Stallion.” Even among such credits, "Hidalgo” stands out in the trainer's long career. "I really wanted to do this film because I thought it was the best script about horses that had come down in a long time,” Peterson adds. "As things progressed and Joe presented his vision of the

movie, I thought we had the makings of a classic.” Peterson spent about three months on his search for the "hero” horse, Hidalgo, which would be used for the film's close-up shots. How does a horse audition? Not only did the horse have to look right – in Hidalgo's case, be a male mustang, 4 to 10 years old, sorrel-and-white – but also gentle enough for an actor to ride. "Sometimes, I would get a call to look at a horse, walk into the barn, and walk right back out again,” says Peterson. "I'm sure I left quite a few people asking, ‘Well, why didn't he pick my horse?' But it's just a matter of not fitting my criteria. In those cases, I didn't even bother to show him to the director. Still, I must have shown Jo e a hundred horses before we ended up with T.J.” After finding him, his next priority was to find Hidalgo doubles and other horses to be used in the motion picture. Ultimately, there were five horses playing Hidalgo, with the doubles used for different aspects of filming, including tricks, jumping, racing, etc. Make-up artist Garrett Immel took the responsibility of finding a way to make up the doubles to match T.J.'s coloring.

In addition, Peterson had to find several Arabian horses to play Hidalgo's competitors in the Ocean of Fire. He spent an additional three months training the horses (and<

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