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About The Humans
When the dog heroes of EIGHT BELOW are left behind in a roaring Antarctic winter storm to fend for themselves, it is Antarctic guide and musher Jerry Shepard who, driven by his love and loyalty to the dogs, undertakes a precarious mission to bring them back home. To play Shepard, a rough-hewn, lifelong adventurer and sled dog expert, the filmmakers knew they would need to find a most unusual leading actor—someone with the dramatic chops to play a man facing up to his own stubborn independence but also an actor who could be equally at home with serious outdoor skills, physical hardship and close relationships with dogs.

They found that perfect combination in Paul Walker, who came to the fore in the blockbusters "The Fast and the Furious” and the sequel, "2 Fast 2 Furious.” Walker is not only a dog owner and dog lover, but an avid climber, surfer, snowboarder and even race-car driver who was thrilled to take on EIGHT BELOW's considerable physical challenges. Says producer Pat Crowley: "Paul is just completely credible as someone living this kind of life in nature. It was essential that you really believe in Jerry's lifestyle and his kinship with the dogs, and Paul brings you right into that world.”

"I guess you could say that this story spoke to me personally with its emphasis on dogs, outdoor action and surviving the toughest of conditions,” says Walker. "I took it as a great compliment when Frank Marshall came to me and said I seemed like the right person for the role. He told me it was going to be really intense and incredibly difficult, but it didn't turn out that bad. I thought we'd have to endure days at 50 below but we only got to 30 below!”

Walker found himself easily relating to Jerry Shepard and the internal struggles that emerge when he is forced to maroon his loyal dogs without much hope of surviving the Antarctic winter. "Jerry and I have a lot of things in common,” notes Walker. "He has the kind of mentality where he wants to experience as much in life as he can. But he also doesn't really want to grow up. He kind of shuns responsibility and he's got this fear of commitment even though he's totally crazy about Moon Bloodgood's character, Katie. I think the only real connection he's comfortable showing is with his dogs, and when they get into trouble, it forces him to rethink everything else.”

After accepting the role, Walker dove into intensive training for it, working with a real-life dog musher to learn more about the lifestyle and the tricks of the trade. Walker especially loved working so closely with his furry co-stars. "I'm a big dog person,” he admits. "I grew up with dogs and have a Chesapeake Bay retriever who was with me for most of the shoot. Working with the sled dogs was really cool, especially getting to know all their personalities, which were each so unique. And any time I had the chance to jump on that sled and run with them, I loved it. It's a thrilling experience.”

Not every aspect of the filmmaking was quite so ecstatic. At times, the conditions were downright grueling, but Walker found that this only helped him to probe more deeply into the experience of Jerry Shepard. "One thing that I learned in making EIGHT BELOW is that when things get really miserable, when it's cold and conditions are trying, you really see what people's true colors are,” says Walker. "And you also see how teamwork is so necessary to get through it all, which to me is one of the most important themes of the film—this idea that we can only make it through the tough times through love and friendship.”

Every expedition to remote places relies on the brighter things in life—friendship, laughs and enthusiasm—to help survive the harsh conditions. Providing comic relief to Jerry Shepard's Antarctic trek is his good friend, the wily cartographer Cooper, played by Jason Biggs, who breaks out

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