Tessa Thompson may be the only human character to appear on screen in Steve Buscemi’s indie film The Listener, but the award-winning actor shares the spotlight with one compelling four-legged costar: Coltrane, Thompson’s real-life adopted canine companion.


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The intimate drama—which follows a helpline volunteer navigating her role to support lonely, broken people—shows the authentic, loving bond between Thompson and Coltrane, setting an excellent example in animal-friendly filmmaking.

For his kind decision to use an actor’s animal companion instead of a dog from one of Hollywood’s animal suppliers, PETA is honoring Buscemi with our Compassion in Film Award. The influential director’s move promotes a kinder era of filmmaking—one in which humans don’t exploit and abuse animals for Hollywood productions.

What’s Wrong With Hollywood Animal Suppliers?

The Listener’s trailer was released on the heels of PETA’s damning undercover investigation into Atlanta Film Animals—a branch of the notorious Hollywood animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU)—which revealed that behind the scenes, workers used food deprivation to train cats and other animals so that they’d be compliant on set, denied elderly pigs veterinary care, and confined dogs to cold, desolate kennels.

PETA’s previous investigation into BAU revealed that the agency neglected pigs with untreated illnesses, virtually starved cats for roles, relegated animals to filthy enclosures, and left dogs outdoors in the cold with no bedding.

A 2020 law-enforcement investigation into A to Z Film Animals found that the supplier confined more than a dozen dogs to kennels stacked on top of one another in a garage and crammed animals into closets.

Buscemi joins a growing list of actors and directors who are recruiting stars’ own companion animals to appear alongside them in Hollywood productions—including previous PETA award recipients Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born and Tilda Swinton in The Eternal Daughter. This modern approach to filmmaking means that animals will have a real home and won’t be left to languish in a facility until the next time they’re used as props.

Here’s How YOU Can Help Animals Exploited for Entertainment

Our fellow animals aren’t props for film and television. If you witness animal abuse or neglect during the production of a film or television show or at an animal training facility, please let us know:

Speak Up for Animals Used in Entertainment!

The post Listen Up, Hollywood! Steve Buscemi’s ‘The Listener’ Sets an Example for Compassionate Filmmaking appeared first on PETA.

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