Towards the end of the film, Thomas Jane's character is followed around by rats and he's clearly very scared of them. Are there any animals that scare you?
Steve: Actually, rats. Isn't that funny?
Dylan: That's why I did it.
Steve: I was animal coordinator on the movie, so I'd come in for the heavy lifting days with my son and I can work with rats no problem. But I had my artery pulled out my arm when I was young by a rat. Right out of my wrist. So out of all animals I've trained over my whole career, I've never been bit like that. But this rat just nailed the perfect spot on my wrist. It was pretty nasty.
Was that when you were working on a film?
Steve: No, this was when I was really young. Like, 10 years old. To a 10-year-old that makes you sit back and look a little bit before you put your hand in the cage. It was a big river rat that bit me.
What's your favorite part about the job?
Steve: Obviously animals. They're great. Dealing with animals is much better than dealing with people, that's for sure. You get the respect of the animal and they respect you, and then away you go. And it's a different challenge every day for each animal. There's always something new and different. There's always an element on a film set that can change the day that you're not prepared for and you have to overcome that. It makes the job interesting and it's never boring. There's always something new and exciting.
This might be a silly question, but when you work on a project with a lot of rats do you give them all names?
Steve: Yes! What Dylan did, because there were so many, he had a ton of cages and containers that he had all the rats in. He would name the boxes.
Dylan: It was like Alpha through Zombie, or whatever. So there was a name for each cage and there were probably 7 rats per cage. And they were all numbered under their tails. So it would be like A1, A2, A3, and all the way to A7. And it was that way all the way across. So we had the rats numbered like that, but then you'd get rats who you start to like and you make a box full of your "hero rats" that do the more unique stuff and they all have real names. Because you start to work with them a lot more.
Steve: We had a couple did the heavy lifting on the movie and they all had individual names. There was Squeaks and X-Man. What was the other one?
Dylan: There was Jeffrey Dahmer. When we got Jeffrey Dahmer, he came in a box with a bunch of other rats, but when we got him from the mail place and picked him up, he was the only rat left because he ate all of his friends.
Steve: He ate his friends.
Dylan: Yeah, we had him separated from the rest of the rats. He had his own box because if there was anyone else there he'd eat them.
Steve: But he was a great worker, Jeffery was. He just didn't play well with others.
So what happens to a rat like that after the shooting is done? Do you keep some?
Steve: Actually, some of them were crew gifts. A lot of the crew took them home. We still have Squeaks and Jeffrey Dahmer and quite a few of them because we went onto another movie with rats right after this one. So it worked out. Right now, I think we have 24 of the original rats here. Most of the other rats we gave away to people who wanted them. A lot of people wanted them because they were trained so well and they were so friendly. Some died of natural causes as well because rats get different cancers and things -- they don't live very long. But most of them got good homes and we have about 24 here.
Dylan: My partner who was on the movie helping me, he has like half a dozen at his house. His kids have them.
How many animals do you keep at your facility?
Steve: We have some North American wild. We have some domestics, our dogs and cats. We have livestock.
Dylan: Rats, reptiles, all that kind of stuff.
Steve: We're kinda into everything.