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Access Hollywood
updated 12/14/2007 6:20:14 PM ET 2007-12-14T23:20:14

Will Smith has a leading lady of a four-legged kind in “I Am Legend.”

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Smith and Abbey the German shepherd bonded on set, but first, Will had to court the canine to win her affection.

“I love that dog,” Will enthused to Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson.

“Was there chemistry? Did she have to get used to you?” Robinson asked.

“Hold on, how about this — like the trainer set it up. He was calling it ‘dates’! So I was having a play date with the dog,” Smith laughed.

Will’s co-star and best friend in “I Am Legend” made it to the big screen the old-fashioned way — she was discovered. To say she was a natural, according to Will, is an understatement.

“Abbey started responding to, ‘Rolling!’” Smith recounted. “She would hear it and then go ... I was like, ‘Did that dog just respond to the cameraman saying ‘Rolling?’

“I love that dog,” Smith continued.

In fact, Abbey helped Smith overcome his reticence to get close to a slobbering beast.

“When I was little, I was probably 9, and I had a dog that got hit by a car,” Smith explained. “So I was like, ‘That’s it! I’m not doing it. I’m not doing that whole, fall in love with dogs thing no more.’”

But he fell in love with Abbey, even asking her trainer, Steve, if he could keep her.

“I was begging him,” Will said. “I was like, ‘Please let me have Abbey. Please, please, please let me have her.’ But you know, she has her own family now so it was just another one of those fleeting Hollywood romances. One of those set things that just happens and you know, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Copyright 2013 by NBC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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