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Exclusive: Why Cristina Rosato of Turner & Hooch loves canine companions

Cristina Rosato and Brandon Jay McLaren in Turner & Hooch
Cristina Rosato and Brandon Jay McLaren in Turner & Hooch. Pic Credit: Disney +.

Sometimes it boils down to the unconditional love of a best pal — or a canine companion — especially when it comes to Cristina Rosato’s role on Turner & Hooch.

The adorable action-comedy from Disney+ that was inspired by the 1989 Tom Hanks movie of the same name follows ambitious U.S. Marshal Scott Turner (Josh Peck) as he sets out to solve the mystery of his father’s death.

He does this with the help of his family, friends, and dog, Hooch (a Dogue de Bordeaux), who was left to him by his police officer dad after his death. The dog becomes his constant companion and simultaneously lands him hot water and helps him solve cases, all the while he is desperately trying to train his new partner – slobber and all.

The Montreal native Cristina Rosato portrays the kick-ass Olivia, an earnest and enthusiastic Oakland police officer, who is engaged to U.S. Marshal Xavier Watkins (the hilarious Brandon Jay McLaren). 

On the movie front, Rosato recently finished working on Ariel, an Argentinian indie drama, which follows siblings Diana (Rosato) and Davie Vega (Raphael Grosz-Harvey) as they travel back to their birthplace, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and discover the vibrant nocturnal world of tango.

Her additional film and television credits include Lionsgate romantic comedy Little Italy, opposite Emma Roberts, Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem), Bad Santa 2 with Billy Bob Thornton, and the Crackle drama series Art of More opposite Dennis Quaid, and the Netflix and CBC series 21 Thunder. Rosato also has an extensive voiceover career voicing characters in video games.

“I loved making it and I enjoy watching it. The producers and the creators executed something really fun, and just enough story and intrigue to keep you interested but without leaving you feeling too much stress,” Rosato exclusively told Monsters & Critics. “So, I thought it was a really nice feeling to be a part of a project like this.”

Monsters & Critics: First of all, I have to know, are you a dog person? 

Cristina Rosato: Absolutely. I am also a cat person. I would have trouble picking between the two, but I’m absolutely a dog person. Who doesn’t love a warm puppy? Or a playful dog?

M&C: Did you work much with the dog who played Turner’s four-legged partner, Hooch? 

Cristina Rosato: No, I didn’t work that much with Hooch. Actually, often there were scenes he was in, but Hooch had a doll stand-in for when the camera wasn’t on him because he just wanted to sniff and play with everyone. So, often they would do the close-ups on Hooch, but often there was no dog there. Except for the fun last episode. I definitely got to play with Hooch a lot for that one.

M&C: So, who is Olivia in your mind? I’m still laughing about her wearing the robe and green facial mask while riding that motorcycle.

Cristina Rosato: I loved when I read the script and saw how she just rolled in and saved the day straight from the spa. I thought that was really fun. I think that that really sums up who Olivia is. She is a girly girl, but when it’s time to turn on the cop mode, she can just turn it on, and that’s it. She’s super professional and super tough, but also a sweet, fun, girly girl.

M&C: Why did you want to be part of this particular project? 

Cristina Rosato: Well, Turner & Hooch is such a classic, I was a huge fan of the film growing up. But when I heard about the project, I obviously was interested in being involved, but really what drew me to it was the character. I thought Olivia was such a unique character. I haven’t gotten that many chances to play in more comedic venues like I’ve done a lot more drama. So, everything about her and the project really attracted me. I thought it sounded like a challenge and a fun role to step into.

M&C: Were there any surprises in making Turner & Hooch? 

Cristina Rosato: I think so. I think that the audiences are definitely in store for some surprises. And definitely don’t want to spoil, but I’m excited to see the audience’s reaction.

M&C: Did the show make you want to watch more law enforcement shows or go back to any movies about crime? 

Cristina Rosato: No, it didn’t make me want to, I kind of always have been interested in those sorts of shows. Not so much true crime stories; I’m very fainthearted, like a little bit scared. But I love The West Wing, and I love Italian crime shows and stuff like that, so I definitely have always had a bit of a soft spot for that kind of thing. But more, I guess in the dramatic world, I haven’t seen too many comedies that are in that world, which is really fun.

Josh Peck with a dog
Josh Peck and his canine partner. Pic Credit: Disney +

M&C: What is Josh Peck like? 

Cristina Rosato: Oh, he is so funny, he is a real character. He’s so dynamic, quick, sharp, and funny. He’s really a lovely person and he’s very welcoming.  Everybody that came to set, he made sure to introduce himself and to be very kind with everybody.  Which I noticed and I thought that was really nice, and he’s just a real pleasure to work with.  Very easy going, very fun, very kind.

M&C: What is your chemistry like with Brandon Jay McLaren, who plays your fiancé, Xavier.

Cristina Rosato: Oh, I think Brandon is hilarious on the show; his character is a riot. And he is a person who’s kind of equally as chill. We talk a lot about food and we have a lot of similar interests in being foodies and stuff. So, it was really fun working with him.

M&C: Do you enjoy cooking? 

Cristina Rosato: I love to cook. I’m Italian, so I’m definitely biased. I make a lot of pasta, a lot of focaccia. I love making homemade pasta and Italian treats. I definitely think that’s my forte. I’ve branched into recipes that I don’t know, but I like making stuff that I learned from my grandmother or my mother. I very much love traditional recipes.

M&C: Why did you become an actress?  How has the journey been versus maybe what you thought it would be like when you started? 

Cristina Rosato: When I was really, really young, I just decided I wanted to be an actor, so I think I was six or seven years old. I wanted to be so many things leading up to that age, I was so young, I wanted to be an astronaut, and then I wanted to be Tina Turner, and I wanted to be a racecar driver. 

I just wanted to be so many things. I just remember watching an Indiana Jones movie, and I wanted to be an archeologist. I thought that was so cool.

Then it dawned on me that it was an actor who was playing the role of an archeologist, who then could also play so many other roles.  So I thought, oh, then I don’t have to pick. I don’t have to pick; I could just be an actress and be all of these different things that I wanted to be. 

Which I thought was such a sweet, honest way to think about it. But as I grew up, I sort of really fell in love with just the connection and the craft of what it meant to connect with your partner in a scene. That was really the thing for me.

M&C: Do you have any advice for anybody, a teen or a young adult, who thinks they want to do this? 

Cristina Rosato: I always tell people who ask about this to study acting. Not necessarily that you have to go to acting school or any of that, but as important as it is to get pretty pictures and get an agent, it’s more important, equally as important for sure to understand what your career is as an actor. Like what the class did, the history, read plays, take workshops, study acting.

If you really want to be an actor, that is generally the flame that will keep you going even in the hard times. Because you’re like, okay, you’re in love with the craft of it, but if you don’t connect with the plays that are the heart of it all and all of that, then I would imagine that it would be more difficult through the hard times to keep yourself on track. I think that it just gives you a richer experience of the whole industry.

Illustration of a girl with a teddy bear and a globe

M&C: Tell me about your children’s book, A Hero Too.

Cristina Rosato: Last spring, I wrote a children’s book with my cousin Lara Villani, who is one of my best friends. We did it right in the heart of the first lockdown and the first wave of the pandemic. Lara has a young daughter who’s two years old, and we talked a lot every day just about all the problems and everything that was going on with the pandemic and how hard it was for adults and teenagers, but also about how hard it was for children.

How do you approach the topic of these sorts of deep feelings with children without scaring them or traumatizing them?  And so, we thought it would be fun to write a book together. We got inspired by what Lara could say to her daughter, and so she said, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a book to help?” And then we just did it.

We are pleased to have partnered with Save the Children, and so the book was available for free download with 10 percent of the proceeds going towards their emergency COVID-19 relief efforts worldwide. This felt like something really nice to be doing, and it was really creative and also a real challenge. The proceeds go to the organization’s Emergency COVID-19 Relief Efforts.

Turner & Hooch is streaming on Disney+.

For more family-friendly entertainment, check out: Soleil Moon Frye Reveals: ‘Punky Brewster is such a big part of my heart and she always will be!’

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