Co-screenwriter Meg Kasdan said: "We wanted a mixed breed to play Freeway". Co-writer with husband director Lawrence Kasdan, the 'Darling Companion' script was based on their own experience loving, losing, searching for and finding their beloved shelter mutt Mac in the High Rockies. "We're prejudiced, of course, but we think mutts are the best dogs", Meg Kasdan added.
The dog 'Freeway' was really played by two dogs. Casey, a multi-colored Collie mix, and Kuma, his Aussie mix understudy, were seasoned animal actors who came to the production through "Good Dog Animals", run by professional trainers Guin Dill and Steve Solomon. Casey and Kuma have life stories to rival Freeway's: they were both spotted in shelters by trainers who recognized the right personalities, smarts, and charisma for great onscreen canines. Casey had been abandoned in the desert, found with an old rope embedded into his neck (he still bears a scar). He was found in the Las Vegas shelter while his trainer was on a shoot there. Kuma was adopted from the South Los Angeles shelter when he was a just a young puppy. The Kasdans had also adopted their cattle-dog mix, Mac, from an L.A. shelter.
The Director's Statement for the film by 'Lawrence Kasdan' (qv states: "Darling Companion is a comedy about many varieties of companionship. At the center of the movie is a marriage that has gone on for a long time and become frayed. Surrounding that union are young people falling in love, a brand-new marriage and the surprise of mid-life romance. The film is also about the connection that sometimes happens between a human being and a pet - the love, friendship and solace that can pass between species. Anyone who's ever had a dog knows they live in the moment. That fact of their behavior can have a revivifying effect on the people around them. While humans worry about the future and mull over the past, dogs bring us back to the present with the uncomplicated joy they take in the here and now - getting outside with us for a walk, having their meal, being stroked. The movie probably began the day my wife Meg and I rescued a mutt named Mac from a cacophonous dog shelter in Los Angeles. After taking that dog into our lives and affections, he was lost during an outing in the Rockies. We spent three weeks searching, calling his name up and down mountain trails, enlisting our friends and family. The whole town was on the lookout. Just at the moment we had given up hope, a stranger who had seen our flyers found Mac playing with her dogs by the river. Mac was dirty and thin, but uninjured. Friends and searchers around town and across the country celebrated his recovery. The characters in Darling Companion (2012) are fictional, but the sense of how our affection for these animals can bring people together is very true to this production. This is my eleventh film, but my first independent production. The incredible cast and crew who agreed to work with us - for scale - signed on because they responded strongly to the story. The production brought together old friends we've worked with for many years, like Kevin Kline, our long-time editor, Carol Littleton, our composer, James Newton Howard, and costume designer Molly Maginnis. We were able to attract people whose work we've admired forever, like Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest, Richard Jenkins, and Sam Shepard; and people just now taking off in the film business, like director of photography Michael McDonough and production designer Dina Goldman. We converged in Utah to shoot our movie with a limited budget and a tight schedule, helped along by some very remarkable dogs and their equally remarkable trainers. Darling Companion (2012) became one of the most gratifying filmmaking experiences I've ever had".