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Q&A with ''Winn-Dixie'' star Jeff Daniels

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He’s survived dogs (101 Dalmatians), geese (Fly Away Home), and Jim Carrey (Dumb and Dumber). Now Daniels works his animal magnetism in Because of Winn-Dixie.

Why do another kid-and-critter pic?

It was a real good script, Wayne Wang is a wonderful director, and the chance to hang around Dave Matthews was definitely a plus.

He’s almost unrecognizable as the guitar-toting drifter.

My favorite is the petshop scene, where he talks about being a lucky man. He talks, then he sings, he talks, he sings. It was written as a speech and Dave incorporated a song. I love that.

You also hung around a very large mouse — or rat, as you call it in the commentary.

The script said mouse. The studio said mouse. I said, ”It’s seven inches long with a tail that’s even longer. It’s a rat.”

In the gag reel, your costar pooped on you.

Yeah. I’m in it for the glamour.

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