Steve Buscemi Earns PETA’s Praise for Casting Tessa Thompson’s Dog in The Listener

For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2024

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Los Angeles

PETA is awarding director Steve Buscemi with its Compassion in Film Award for his kind, modern decision to cast Tessa Thompson’s real-life adopted dog, Coltrane, to star alongside her in The Listener, rather than using a dog or a cat supplied by one of Hollywood’s notorious animal exhibitors—such as Atlanta Film Animals (AFA), which a recent PETA investigation revealed warehoused animals in cold, barren, and filthy cages; withheld food to make them compliant on set; and denied sick animals veterinary care.

compassion in film award for steve buscemi for his film the listener

Thompson told Entertainment Weekly that Buscemi scouted her adorable pup when he wandered into frame during a Zoom meeting. While the script had originally called for her character, Beth, to have a cat, Buscemi knew he had found his star in Coltrane.

“By choosing to cast Thompson’s happy, well-loved companion, Coltrane, Steve Buscemi helped keep his set free from using an animal abused by a seedy supplier,” says PETA Director of Animals in Film and Television Lauren Thomasson. “PETA urges all filmmakers to follow Buscemi’s compassionate example and consider calling ‘cut’ on hiring cruel animal exhibitors for their productions.”

Multiple investigations have revealed that keeping animals in deplorable conditions and depriving them of food during training is standard practice in the entertainment industry. PETA’s undercover investigation of AFA—a branch of the notorious supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, which the group investigated in 2016—exposed that workers restricted two cats’ food while training them because if they weren’t “hungry,” they were “not gonna work.” An old, ailing dog with heart failure was kept in a near-freezing garage, and other dogs were left outside in 14-degree weather overnight.

Buscemi joins a growing list of actors and directors who are recruiting stars’ own animal companions to appear alongside them in Hollywood productions—including previous PETA award recipients Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born and Tilda Swinton in The Eternal Daughter.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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