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WITHOUT A PADDLE

Supporting Cast
Throughout their thrilling adventure in the Oregon backwoods, the heroes of "Without a Paddle” encounter a lot more than a wily old mountain man (Burt Reynolds), angry pot farmers wielding machine guns (Ethan Suplee, "Cold Mountain” and Abraham Benrubi, "ER”) and tree-hugging hippie chicks (Rachel Blanchard, "7th Heaven” and Christina Moore, "Mad TV”).

No, without a doubt the biggest star in the film is Bart the bear, the 1000-pound Alaskan brown bear who mistakes Dan (Seth Green) for a cub, leaving Jerry and Tom (Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard) to convince the half-ton, would-be parent otherwise. Handled by legendary bear trainer Doug Seus, four-year-old Bart is named after the late great ursine star of the same name that made over a dozen films, including "The Edge” and "Legends of the Fall.”

Now appearing in his second major motion picture film role, young Bart began his entertainment career as a mere cub when he made a cameo appearance, with his twin sister Honey Bump, in "Dr. Dolittle 2.” He will next be seen in "An Unfinished Life,” opposite Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman.

Seth Green, who spent probably the most time in close proximity to Bart, was in awe of his furry co-star. "I've never been that close to a bear before and it was amazing to be that close to an animal his size,” says Green. "Actually, Bart is very playful and gentle, but all the while, there's still a great awareness that he's essentially a wild animal well trained, but wild.”

Shepard, who appears in a scene where Bart is only five feet away from him remembers what great fun it was to have the bear on the set.

"It was hilarious to watch him. He can stay focused for about 18 seconds, very much like myself, and then he just goes off into another world,” laughs Shepard. "For example, he'll be running along doing what he's supposed to do, and then he just stops and tears apart a tree so they have to wrangle him back in. It was quite an experience.”

Standing over eight-and-a-half feet tall on his hind legs, which he does readily on command, Bart, according to trainer Doug Seus, will gain another 300 pounds and several more inches when he's fully grown. He is an omnivore, but favors meat, chicken, certain fruit drinks, and for a special treat, whipped cream. Bart and his sister Honey-Bump were rescued by Alaskan rangers after poachers shot and killed their mother when they were three months old. Doug and Lynn Seus were asked to take the twins to save them from euthanasia.

Doug Seus, who has been training North American animals for the screen for about 30 years, describes bears as very robust, tactile animals who love to play.

"I believe that as you train a bear, your feelings and your soul are transferred to the bear so that you can begin to communicate through breaths and through body tensions,” says Seus. "There's a constant exchange between the trainer and the bear, each giving a bit of inward spirituality to the other. You see, bears are very effusive animals and they're as intelligent as apes.”

Seus adds that Bart quickly learned the parameters of the set environment as well as the behaviors that were expected of him during filming.

"Working with a young bear like Bart is like working with a child or somebody you're teaching manners to in his formative years,” explains Seus. "Bears, like children, have to learn the spectrum within which they're allowed to operate, both emotionally and physically, and we accomplish this by first giving them their dignity.”

Seus says that by respecting a bear's intelligence, you give him that dignity. "Bears are so intelligent that sometimes you ask them to do something and they might do something that's physically easier for them. In doing that, a bear like Bart is trying to charm me out of doing something the way I want him to,” laughs Seus. "Theoretically, trainers shou

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