Beasts of Burden

Should animal actors have a future in Hollywood?

Andrew Cooper / Dreamworks

Actor Jeremy Irvine, horse trainer Bill Lawrence and director Steven Spielberg, from left, rehearse with Andy, one of the 14 horses who played Joey in War Horse

The panicked, riderless horse leaps over a trench and into the thick of a smoky, bomb-scarred battle. Artillery shells explode around him as he thunders through the field, huddled troops from both sides looking on in astonishment. Finally the horse becomes entangled in the barbed wire that studs the battleground. He goes to his knees whinnying as the camera closes in on his eyes, which are filled with bewilderment and pain.

The scene is the emotional center of Steven Spielberg's current film War Horse, which follows a thoroughbred named Joey from the bucolic farms of Devon, England, to service in the...

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