How Birds of Prey Used a Real Dog For Harley Quinn's Hyena

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn makes impressive efforts to pay homage to its titular Harley Quinn's roots in animation and comics. One such way is to bring in a pet hyena, something which she has two of in the drawn mediums, and is named after Bruce Wayne in the upcoming film — or, as Harley likes to put it, "That hunky Wayne guy," as she doesn't know he is Batman. Unsurprisingly, the production of Birds of Prey couldn't bring a real hyena onto the set as it would probably be eating people's faces, but the team did find a clever way to bring the animal to life. Birds of Prey used a dog as a stand-in and put the hyena's body over it with visual effects.

"It was one of those things that when we first put in the script, [writer] Christina [Hodson] and I, 'cause obviously in the comics, Harley has two hyenas," Birds of Prey star Margot Robbie told "Ultimately, we have one, because even one was expensive. But, we thought it was a great idea at the time. And then in pre-production, suddenly everyone was like, 'So, how are we doing the hyena thing?' It's incredibly difficult. We went to go see a real-life hyena, there's a hyena in California that's appeared on screen before. Turns out, it was gonna be impossible to shoot with him because they're extremely dangerous and take ownership of anything they touch. So, if you put it on the couch, then it's gonna eat the couch. You can't get the couch back. It doesn't really work for filming."

This is where the ultimate good pup came into play. "Ultimately we had a really big dog that was then, its fur was CGI'd, and body shape CGI'd to look like a hyena," Robbie explained. "Because the alternative is to have a dude in a green suit."

For Robbie, who is a producer on Birds of Prey, it was critical to pull off this hyena bit in the film and memories of another film's creation of animals might have influenced her in a direction opposite that of a human stand-in in a green suit. "I've seen that process play out," Robbie recalls. "When we did [The Legend of Tarzan], I remember watching Alex Skarsgard like, nuzzling with like, this big burly dude from South London. And I was just like, it's weird. It doesn't feel as authentic."

Ultimately, this meant making a new friend on set. "So, I shared a Twizzler with a big dog, instead," Robbie concluded.


Birds of Prey has earned some praise in the early reactions to the film. Are you excited to see Gotham's girl gang come together? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram and Twitter!

Birds of Prey hits theaters on February 7th.