Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux may be the marquee names lending their voices to Disney’s live-action Lady and the Tramp, but they’re not the movie’s only stars. Two previously unknown pups named Rose and Monte play the star-crossed pair, and when EW visited the set last year in Savannah, Ga., we got to meet the furry actors and learn about their rise to fame.

“I met both of them right when they came into all of our lives, and they were not trained at all,” director Charlie Bean tells EW. “[Now] they are incredible actors.”

Unlike other recent “live-action” Disney films like The Jungle Book or The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp uses a combination of real animals and computer animation. Rose, a cocker spaniel, was the first one cast, thanks to her soulful eyes and signature floppy ears. Then, lead animal coordinator Mark Forbes scoured pet adoption websites before finding Monte, a likely 8-month-old puppy found wandering the streets of New Mexico before being rescued. “She’s definitely the more business one, where he’s kind of goofy and just happy to be there,” Forbes says.

Credit: K. C. Bailey/Disney

The film’s other canine cast members include the bloodhound Trusty (voiced by Sam Elliott), the fluffy Peg (Janelle Monaé), the Scottish terrier Jock (Ashley Jensen), and the bulldog Bull (Benedict Wong).

Training started with basic commands like “sit” and “stay” before graduating to more complex behaviors like running, stretching, and jumping. But perhaps the dogs’ biggest challenge was the alleyway spaghetti date. Rose and Monte spent months rehearsing for their romantic rendezvous, learning how to stare into each other’s eyes and nose meatballs across a plate. (For the actual “kiss,” cooked pasta proved too breakable, so the props team swapped it out for vanilla licorice.)

“The classic thing is, you shoot it, and you’ve literally worked on this for two months, and then it’s over in 30 seconds,” Forbes says with a sigh. Hey, Hollywood can be ruff.

Lady and the Tramp will be available Nov. 12 on Disney+.

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