Most dogs get a Milk-Bone as a reward. But for the ”Men in Black” sequel, Frank the pug earned the ultimate Hollywood treat: extra screen time.
In the first film, Frank had only one scene to steal, as an alien informant disguised as a canine, who gets shaken down — literally — by Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent Kay. But in the sequel, he’s a suit-wearing, ”I Will Survive”-singing, cigar-smoking PIB (that’s Pug in Black).
Frank is played by an actual pug named Mushu (with some CGI noodling, of course), but the source of his cranky attitude is actor-puppeteer Tim Blaney. You may not have seen Blaney before, but you’ve most likely heard him — either as verbose robot No. 5 in the ”Short Circuit” movies or as a Chicken McNugget in a McDonald’s commercial. (And who could forget Dufus, his bass-playing Muppetish character from the ’80s variety show ”Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters”?) But it’s Frank who has provided Blaney, 43, with his most memorable role. ”I’m a Method actor,” he jokes about playing the pooch. ”I smash my face into a wall to really get into it.”
For ”MIB,” the filmmakers originally considered giving Frank an English accent, taking their cue from the pedigree’s history, but decided that lines like ”If you don’t like it you can kiss my furry little butt!” would sound better in Noo Yawkese. Turns out Blaney, who’s divorced, is actually from L.A. ”He’s really very shy,” says his boss, ”MIBII” puppet master Tony Urbano. ”In 21 years I’ve never heard him swear.”
Maybe that’s why, despite Frank’s obvious pup-ularity, Blaney didn’t hold out for a huge salary increase. ”The fact that he’s in the movie a lot more is the raise,” Blaney says. ”I just wanted to make sure they didn’t bring in Danny DeVito and take away my job.”