Mark Wahlberg says he “fell in love” with his dog co-star, tried to buy him from trainer

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In the upcoming film Arthur the King, a character played by Mark Wahlberg forms a strong bond with a stray dog he meets in the jungle. But it wasn’t just acting: in real life, Wahlberg was forming an equally close bond with his canine co-star.

In fact, he says he was so won over by the dog that he tried to bring him home for good after the cameras stopped rolling!

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Mark Wahlberg and Ukai: “I just fell in love”

Wahlberg, 52, spoke to People Magazine after a screening of the upcoming film, and opened up about the close bond he formed with Ukai, the canine actor who stars as Arthur.

“I was amazed by how close we got and our connection. So, of course, I wanted him,” Wahlberg told People.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 19: (L-R) Mark Wahlberg and Ukai attend a Los Angeles special screening and adoption event for Lionsgate’s “Arthur The King” at AMC Century City 15 on February 19, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

He says that he fell in love with Ukai, and so did his children — and says he went as far as to “bribe” the dog’s trainer to sell the dog to him. “I offered her whatever she would want,” Wahlberg says.

While some Hollywood stars have adopted their animal co-stars — Sarah Jessica Parker adopted her cat from the set of And Just Like That, and Chris Evans met his beloved dog Dodger while filming at a real-life shelter — Wahlberg’s new best friend was already spoken for.

“But, of course, that bond is not something that you can separate,” Wahlberg said of Ukai and his trainer. “I completely understood… I took a shot.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 19: Ukai attends a Los Angeles special screening and adoption event for Lionsgate’s “Arthur The King” at AMC Century City 15 on February 19, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

Even so, Wahlberg will always have many fond memories of his furry co-star, who he says was a truly impressive screen partner.

“To be able to do any scenes with Ukai, as Arthur, on an emotional level and to see how powerful his performance was was awesome,” he told People.

And Wahlberg and Ukai have gotten to reunite since filming wrapped up. They appeared on the red carpet together at a February 19 advanced screening of the film, and recorded a PSA together about the importance of pet adoption on behalf of the Best Friends Animal Society.

According to Celebrity Pets, Wahlberg has four dogs of his own at home, named Champ, Lola, Jojo, and Penny. Champ, a pomeranian adopted in 2019, even has his own Instagram account.

Arthur the King: the true story

The behind-the-scenes friendship between Wahlberg and Ukai is heartwarming, but the true story their film is based on is even more inspiring.

Arthur the King is based on the 2016 memoir Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home, which tells the true story of adventure racer Mikael Lindnord (the basis for Wahlberg’s character in the film) who befriended a stray dog during the 2014 Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador.

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The stray was named Arthur, and he managed to finish the grueling race alongside his new human friends. He was then adopted by Lindnord, who brought him home to Sweden. Arthur’s story inspired people around the world, and he passed away in 2020.

Lindnord was at the screening, and says Arthur the King did justice to the real-life story, and that Ukai was the spitting image of the late Arthur.

“Ukai and Arthur looks incredible similar, like twins,” he wrote on Instagram. “It’s not only the look, they walk the same and both have the same extreme calm and spiritual wisdom.”

Arthur the King, is not your average movie about a dog. It’s a story how life can change in one wind beat and what can happen if you keep fighting and don’t give up.”

It’s so nice to hear that Mark Wahlberg formed such a close bond with his dog co-star, and the two brought this inspiring real-life story to the screen!

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