Matthew Morrison on Thursday expressed outrage over reports of dog abuse occurring during production of his upcoming film, Crazy Alien.
On the set of the Chinese science fiction movie, it appears a German shepherd was mistreated during a stunt sequence, according to raw video taken by a whistleblower.
“I’ve just been made aware and seen a video from the set of a film I worked on in China,” the Glee star tweeted. “My heart is broken to see any animal treated this way. Had I been on set or known about this, I would have made all efforts to stop this. I’ve called the producers to express my outrage.”
The video shows the dog being locked inside a cage, then suspended in the air before being spun around by a crane and dropped into water.
According to PETA, citing the whistleblower, there were multiple takes of the scene, the dog not being given a break in between.
“PETA is urging the actors to hold the production accountable and calling for the public to boycott this film,” the animals’ rights organization said in a statement. “This scene should be cut, and Ning should commit to never working with live animals again. We’re asking that the cast — including Glee actor Matthew Morrison — donate their salaries to animal-protection charities in China.”
Representatives for the film’s production company, Dirty Monkey Films Group, responded to the video in a statement given to The Hollywood Reporter Saturday.
“We sincerely apologize for any animals that were mistreated on our set,” the statement reads. “We always strive to treat all cast and crew, human or animal, with the utmost respect, and are deeply troubled by the reports of an animal in distress on our production. There is no excuse for any failure to fully account for the welfare of any animal brought into a film, and we will be conducting a full review of our live animal practices and safeguards going forward.”
The full statement can be read below.
We sincerely apologize for any animals that were mistreated on our set. We always strive to treat all cast and crew, human or animal, with the utmost respect, and are deeply troubled by the reports of an animal in distress on our production. There is no excuse for any failure to fully account for the welfare of any animal brought into a film, and we will be conducting a full review of our live animal practices and safeguards going forward.
We also welcome this opportunity to open up a much-needed dialogue on live animal film practices in China. We have reviewed the footage and discussed the shoot with cast and crew who were present, and hope that the following details can help address at least some of the concerns that have been raised regarding these scenes:
There were two shot set-ups for the dog in the reported scene. In the first, the dog is just supposed to be suspended in the air, safely in the cage. This was controlled using a wire harness and was completed without issue.
In the second set-up, the dog and cage are supposed to move up and over the water, without submerging. The first time this set-up was attempted, the height was miscalculated and the cage fell into the water. Then, before fully diagnosing the mechanical problem, a second take was requested. This was a mistake. The dog’s welfare should have been paramount, and any potential risks should have been diagnosed and eliminated before the dog was again called upon to undertake the scene. We sincerely apologize.
Following a second failure in this shot set-up, the crew changed plans and shot an empty cage falling into the water. This scene will eventually be composited as a CG shot.
Despite mistakes in filming, the dog was well cared for on set. Its owner was present throughout the filming, and full accommodations were provided for its comfort and safety. Nevertheless, no explanation can excuse any distress caused to this innocent animal on our set, and we are deeply sorry.
March 17, 8:11 a.m. Updated to include Dirty Monkey Films Group’s statement.