That is the question many are asking this week in light of a canine’s transcendent performance in the new film A Star Is Born. Bradley Cooper, who directed the musical drama and stars alongside Lady Gaga, cast his real-life dog, Charlie the labradoodle, in the film. Charlie is a very good dog, and a very good canine actor, who appears in several pivotal scenes throughout the film.
Normally, films will cast well-trained pets with the help of professional animal trainers, but Cooper’s connection to Charlie was too strong to pass up. “That bond with Bradley is natural and can’t be duplicated,” a Warner Bros. source told the Hollywood Reporter last month.
Charlie’s bond with viewers is apparently just as strong. A Star Is Born fans have taken to social media to express their love for the true star of the film. “I swear, if Bradley Cooper’s dog doesn’t win Best Supporting Actor this year I’m gonna drop out of film school,” one person said on Twitter. “I’m already fuming over the inevitable snub for Charlie as Best Supporting Actor,” another added. “So much raw emotion from such a good boy.” New York magazine’s fashion blog The Cut has already published a piece arguing that Charlie should win an Oscar.
The labradoodle’s performance was so universally beloved that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) created a new Compassion in Film Award and gave it to Cooper for casting his own dog in the movie. “Bradley Cooper’s happy, adorable and much loved dog steals the spotlight—and viewers’ hearts—in this film because it’s clear that he loved being with his real-life ‘dad,’” the animal rights group said in a statement. “PETA has witnessed so much abuse and neglect of dogs, both on and off set, that we’re hoping Cooper’s kind decision sets a precedent for all of Hollywood to follow.”
Hopefully Charlie is able to stay grounded and true to himself throughout his newfound stardom. Cooper hinted that his dog already thinks he’s too good for his owner. “I don’t talk to him much anymore,” Cooper told People magazine at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. “He doesn’t return my calls.”
The Motion Picture Academy does not explicitly state (pdf) that an acting nominee must be a human being. Quartz has reached out to its publicity team regarding Charlie’s awards eligibility, and we’ll update you when they respond to this urgent inquiry.
If he scores a best supporting actor nomination, Charlie will likely be up against his co-star Sam Elliott, who plays the older brother of Cooper’s character. With Oscars viewership dropping year after year, perhaps the Academy should seriously consider making Charlie the first-ever dog nominee. Imagine him wearing a bowtie.