I Am Legend is a classic popcorn crunching cult movie, and it truly has to be one of my favorites. It has Will Smith in his classic blockbuster prime, a fun and dynamic plot, and, of course, who could forget about those thrillingly scary movie monsters?
And hey, I’ll admit that naming the movie after a fantastic book but completely changing almost everything was a very odd idea. Normally, I would hate a movie for doing that, but for I Am Legend, I’ll look the other way. It’s that fun! Personally, I call the movie Will Smith in the Post-Apocalypse With His Dog. Speaking of which, one of the biggest reasons I Am Legend is a favorite of mine is Will Smith’s stunning co-star, a very adorable German Shepherd who goes by the name “Sam” in the movie.
Sam’s role in I Am Legend is paramount to Smith’s character, Robert Neville, helping him cope with isolation and being the last remaining tie between Neville and his daughter. It’s an incredible role for a dog, and Sam lights up the screen every time she’s on it.
“Sam” — real-life name Abbey — has since retired away from the silver screen, recently celebrating her 13th birthday. It’s hard to believe, but It’s been over a decade since I Am Legend debuted, though, you certainly wouldn’t think it’s been that long after seeing Abbey.
With the movie nearing its 15th anniversary in a couple of years, many have been wondering how “Sam” is doing. Fortunately, we no longer have to wonder because her real-life owner, Steve Berens, recently gave us an update on who he calls his absolute best friend.
Credit: Steve Berens
Besides having some trouble hearing, Abbey is still the vibrant and mostly energetic dog we all remember.
“She’s older now and she doesn’t hear hardly anything. But she’s still kicking, she still likes a ball and likes a bone,” Abbey’s owner said to LADBible.
It’s impossible to deny the love between Abbey and Steve. Who came into his life as a young pup when Steve was asked to find a dog for an upcoming blockbuster starring Will Smith trying to solve a disease that turns people into vampires.
“We got her in the middle of July and then went to camera towards the end of September, so that was a pretty quick transition. She wasn’t coming from a training foundation – she really knew nothing. She was trained in a lot of the basics that you need for film work, and then directly for those scenes. It was stressful at first, but she really came on good. She's a good dog and she really learned fast.”
After seeing the movie, it’s impossible to deny Abbey's abilities, and along with that incredible bond she had with her co-star, she’s easily one of the most memorable movie dogs of all time.
Credit: Steve Berens (Left) Warner Bros. (Right)
In fact, the bond was so powerful between Abbey and Smith, that for years rumors have swirled around the film that Sam had to tell Will Smith “no” when Smith asked him to make a big decision.
You see, that chemistry between Abbey and Will was purly organic, and apparently, after shooting, Mr. Smith wanted to take Abbey home with him. And this was a big deal to put it lightly because when Smith was a child, he lost a family pet in a car crash. In fact, he swore he would never have another dog again, but then Abbey appeared.
After hearing the rumors, Steve said he deliberated long and hard about whether he could give up Abbey to Smith if he asked. But in the end, as we know, he just couldn’t do it. Abbey was just too precious to give up, and Steve simply couldn’t imagine his life without her in it. Though, Steve admits, if Smith had asked him in person, he might have said differently.
"When you work with a lot of actors, they're not that interested in the animal - a lot of actors look at it as something that the audience is going to be looking at instead of them,” Steve explains.
"But Will was not at all like that. He understood that this was his co-star, and he really dug it and really got into it. He was a fabulous guy to work with. I think that she really liked him, and that made a difference. I think that's one thing in the film I was very happy with and very proud of - the relationship was really solid."
Credit: Warner Bros.
Over a decade later, Abbey is still just as smart and sharp putting to rest the myth that old dogs can’t learn new tricks.
After shooting I am Legend, Abbey’s has gone on to make some minor appearances in some movies over the years, but for the most part she’s a family dog, and that’s how Steve says he prefers it.
Today, you can find Abbey hanging out with Steve, his daughter, and her kids.