Nicolas Cage’s new movie, Pig, which stars the Oscar winner as a loner who lives in the Oregon woods with his truffle-hunting pig, is earning rave reviews as one of his best films in years. Shortly into the film, his beloved pig is stolen and he spends the rest of the movie trying to find her.
Here’s what we know about the movie’s pig and the real-world use of truffle-hunting hogs:
- The pig is played by Brandy, with an understudy named Cora. She is a purebred Kunekune, a small breed of domestic pig from New Zealand, according to Variety. Read more about the breed here: American KuneKune Pig Society
- She lives at Music Meadow Farm, who loaned her out for the film. The farm is located near Molalla, Oregon and is dedicated to raising and preserving heritage livestock breeds and heirloom vegetables and fruits. They are also developing breeding programs for their livestock.
3. The pig wasn’t trained to hunt truffles. In fact, she only had three days of training before going on film. “We found the cutest pig we could find, and sort of tried to train her to be presentable in the film,” Vanessa Block, the movie’s co-writer, told the New York Times.
4. She bit her co-star! In a Q&A, director Michael Sarnoski revealed the pig bit Nicolas several times. After a particularly bad bite, Cage joked: “I’ve been set on fire, I’ve been in flipped cars, but It’ll be sepsis from a pig bite that kills me.”
5. What was it like working with Brandy? (Apart from the biting.) Cage told GQ, “she was very, like many of us, payment-oriented. She was interested in food really and food only, understandably. She wasn’t that interested in people and I get that. But if they need a very soulful look in her eyes, off-camera, you could show her a bit of carrot. She seemed to like that.”
6. So carrots were Brandy’s motivation. What was Cage’s? As he said to GQ, “I had already had bad dreams about what I would do if I lost Merlin, my cat (a Maine coon). I had nightmares. And I told this to Michael, the director. I said I already have it in my psyche, in my imagination, in my emotions. I know how to play this part without acting.”
6. In the real world of truffle hunting, pigs are rarely used anymore. “Most truffle hunters around the world use trained dogs,” Charles Lefevre, founder of the Oregon Truffle Festival told the NY Times. “Almost nobody uses trained pigs.” According to the Times, truffle hogs not only want to eat the rare mushrooms themselves, they can also damage the fragile soil and any future truffle crops. That’s why Italy banned them in 1985.
7. How much is the pig worth? In the movie Cage’s character is offered $25,000 at one point to find a replacement pig.
8. Do people really steal truffle hogs (or hounds)? Yes. Eat Something Sexy notes that food writer Elatia Harris documented the case of a Frenchman who was sentenced to 45 years in prison for stealing two truffle hunting pigs in 1985. According to Thrillist, people have been known to kill over the pricey delicacies and foraging dogs are often stolen.
9. Is Cage’s character eventually reunited with his pig?
No. This is a downbeat drama and he does not see her again. What happens to her, though, happens offscreen and we simply hear that she “didn’t make it.”
Still highly recommend the film. It’s a must-see for any Nicolas Cage fan.