Sara Gruen gets a star turn in the film version of her novel Water for Elephants, now in post-production.
She got to meet stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Just as thrilling was being lifted into the air by Tai the elephant, who depicts circus elephant Rosie in the movie, due April 15.
“Her trainer told me to hug her trunk,” says Gruen, “so I did, and suddenly I was 7 feet in the air. She gave me many kisses, probably because I always carry mints for my horses, so I was slipping her candy every time I got a chance.”
Gruen, her husband and three sons were cast as extras in a scene in which the circus performers and animals parade down the streets in Weehawken, N.J.
“We retook that scene I think 18 times,” Gruen recalls. “I’m the one Rob Pattinson (who plays veterinarian Jacob Jankowski) elbows past and says, ‘Excuse me, ma’am’ to.”
As for Christoph Waltz, who plays an abusive animal trainer, Gruen says: “I watched a scene being filmed when he was ‘beating’ Rosie. From the side of the road, it was very obvious that he wasn’t going anywhere near her, but from behind the bank of monitors, it was extremely convincing.”