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Are 1923's Wild Animals Real Or Is It All CGI Magic?

Westerns have undergone a renaissance lately, something that continues with the Paramount+ series "1923." Taylor Sheridan's creation sees the Dutton family face woes during an era rife with global struggles. Like his other series, the creator went to a pair of well-known performers to lead this chapter in the famous family's story.

Stars Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren are major draws for the series, portraying Jacob and Cara Dutton, respectively. The duo are no strangers to working together having previously teamed up for Peter Weir's "The Mosquito Coast" back in 1986. Part of the picture was filmed on an island in Belize, but that setting was quite different to Montana's majestic landscape. "It was very rugged where we were shooting up in the Montana hills, where it was completely wild and incredibly beautiful," Mirren told Deadline. She even went through training at a cowboy camp to ensure authenticity. Another cast member's experience goes even further.

Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) takes the drama of "1923" away from the Dutton ranch. The World War I veteran is plagued with what would now be classified as PTSD, finding solace in heavy drinking. His journey leads the seemingly lost man to Africa, where he participates in trophy hunts means. Spencer's encounters with dangerous wild animals left viewers guessing about what is real and what is CGI on the show. Here's what Sklenar had to say about it.

Some of the animals are real

Spencer Dutton comes into contact with some of nature's most dangerous animals during his time in Africa. These parts of the show were filmed on location in Kenya, home to many fascinating species. His first moments on the screen see him killing a lion. Soon after that, the hunter encounters leopards. Speaking about those scenes, Brandon Sklenar disclosed that the animals were indeed real — they had a lion, a leopard, and several elephants. "The animals were there," he told Deadline. "It's a movie magic blend of real animals and CG animals and stuffies."

Perhaps surprisingly, the closest call he had with the real animals was not related to lions or leopards. Sklenar told The Hollywood Reporter of one incident involving co-star Julia Schlaepfer and photographer Emerson Miller. They were feeding the elephants when he decided to join them. "I was like, 'Oh, I'll walk over there.' Everything was still, quiet and easy, but once I got within two feet of the elephants, they just freaked out and started running all over the place," he said. His instinct was to run, but that would have put him in more danger, the nearby handlers warned. "It's a surreal experience to go from this very serene, placid setting to guys yelling, 'Don't run! Don't run!'"

Despite this near miss, the actor has fond memories of the time he got to spend with the elephants. "They're just magnificent creatures, and you realize how beautiful they are once you're that close," he said. Elephants aren't the only animals the cast fell in love with — Julia Schlaepfer grew to really appreciate horses during the so-called Cowboy Camp the cast went to. "They're the most sensitive, beautiful creatures, and it was really meditative and peaceful," she told Collider.