Anything but Ordinary, TOGO is EXTRAORDINARY!
Thank you Disney Plus for inviting me to a pre-screening and press-junket of TOGO. An Original Movie starring Willem Dafoe and Julianne Nicholson, “Togo” is the untold true story set in the winter of 1925 that treks across the treacherous terrain of the Alaskan tundra for an exhilarating and uplifting adventure that will test the strength, courage and determination of one man, Leonhard Seppala, and his lead sled dog, Togo. The poignant and emotional adventure debuts on Disney+ NOW.
We had the honor of interviewing the legendary Willem Dafoe and Julianne Nicholson about TOGO, TOGO to me is far fro ordinary, it's extraordinary!
Q1: How did you guys come to this project, and what made you want to do it?
Mr. Dafoe: For me, it was basically the same. I met (director) Ericson Core, before I even read the script, and the way he talked about it was very compelling. He started out as cinema photographer, before becoming a director. He’s also a mountaineer and a wilderness first responder, so he knows nature. He also has a personal connection to animals. He had a wolf for 12 years. So, these themes really resonated with him, and I’m sure he worked a lot with Tom Flynn, to develop the script. I don’t know that for a fact, but he had a real stake in the story. And then, I started to research about Leonhard Seppala, and he’s an interesting character. I also learned that Julianne [Nicholson] was involved and that was good, I knew where we were going to shoot, and I knew I was going to have to learn how to mush. All of those things were attractive. So, it was very clear. I didn’t agonize over whether to do it or not.
Mrs. Nicholson: I was sent the script, and I knew that Willem [Dafoe] was attached to play Leonhard Seppala, which was very exciting to me ‘cause I’ve been a big fan of his, for many years. And then, I loved the story. It’s a true story that I had never heard of. I had seen Balto’s statue in New York, countless times, when I lived there and we’d go in Central Park. And so, to make a discovery like this felt exciting. I also loved how Constance was portrayed and how this relationship was portrayed as an equal partnership and a loving relationship, but where there are disagreements and that they could get through them. I thought that was exciting.
Q2: How was it, working with all the dogs, and how many different Togos are there?
Mr. Dafoe: He’s a real descendant of Togo, which is probably why he got the job.
NICHOLSON: But then, there were a couple of different puppies, playing the Togo puppy. And then, the dog sled dogs were around. There’s a company working up there, called Snow Animals, and they were around a lot. It was pretty amazing to have that energy around. And Diesel, himself, could bring up some challenges, depending on his mood.
Mrs. Nicholson: We had one main actor dog for Togo. His name is Diesel.
Q3: I cried ugly tears in the end, have you seen it and did you guys cry when you saw this?
Mr. Dafoe: We were moved when we were doing it. Sometimes, as the character, you can’t allow yourself to cry. Because it’s so elemental, set in nature and set in isolation with animals, in the natural world, it becomes a really strong meditation on our lives and how we conduct them, the relationships we have, and what our ambitions are compared to the resources we have. I think it’ll resonate with people.
Mrs. Nicholson: When I watched it, I was really moved. I cried, at the end, and so did my daughter. I was really surprised, actually. Knowing the story, you think I’d be prepared for what was coming, but I thought they handled it so beautifully. I was watching and enjoying the whole thing, for all of the different things that are there – the action, the adventure, the stunning visual landscape. It was a slow burn for me, watching the development of that relationship, and then that leaving. That passing can be for your animal, for your grandfather, for your mother, or for someone who is not there anymore. That’s big and goes beyond a relationship with an animal. So, I was not pretty crying, which was fun. My daughter was crying and my son was crying, but my husband kept it together. I was really moved by the whole thing.
This is a movie that every family MUST watch, the story is riveting, insightful, full of heart and love, most of all, it's EXTRAORDINARY! It's a must see, catch it on Disney Plus NOW.