Close your eyes and imagine an actor with the emotional depth and range necessary to play Fred Flintstone, Daredevil, Hannibal Lecter, and Ethan Hunt.
Now imagine that actor is an Australian wiener dog.
Open your eyes. Brakkus is real, and you can follow him on Instagram.
Though he is originally from Queensland, Brakkus' adoptive human parents took two flights and traveled six hours to bring him home to Western Australia. Mike and Steph say they knew Brakkus was the perfect dog for them when they saw his puppy photo. Like many child stars, he had an obvious It Factor right away, a natural luster that the right adoptive parents could foster into something more.
"For a little jelly bean, he had very expressive eyes and was very handsome," Mike tells SYFY WIRE. "His personality came through strongly even in the photo that we were sent."
Just over a year later, Brakkus is a tiny Instagram influencer, posing happily as he cosplays action stars and horror movie icons. (He gets treats every time he does this, but because he is a true artist, we can assume Brakkus is not just in the cosplay game for the Pupperoni.)
Brakkus dresses according to Mike and Steph's whims, and his parents happen to love movies with jump scares and explosions. "There is no doubt Brakkus loves the attention," Mike says. "When the camera comes out, he wags like crazy waiting to be posed." What's an actor without their motivation?
Mike and Steph spoke with SYFY WIRE about their cosplayer dog's burgeoning online career, the movies and TV shows they've enjoyed as lifelong genre fans, and the most challenging parts of being stage-dog parents.
How old is Brakkus and does he have any dog siblings or other pets in your home?
Brakkus recently had his first birthday. He is the only canine member of our family, but he has many dog friends that he catches up with for play dates and he is visited at home by the local kangaroos and magpies.
What was Brakku's first cosplay?
His first ever costume was in a Santa coat, which we were photographing for a Christmas card for family and friends. It was a bit of a nightmare because he was still a bundle of puppy energy and was just too excited. As he got older, he excelled at his puppy classes and it wasn't long before he was a perfect model, soaring through the sky like Superman and protecting Gotham as Brakman.
At this point, are you buying most of the cosplay pieces or making them?
His long body shape and unique stature limits what he can fit into, so we have made or adapted most of his costumes. With every costume we create for him, our technique is getting better.
What has been the most difficult cosplay you've put together for Brakkus?
We wanted a great photo to celebrate the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout to cinemas. The helicopter stunt we had seen in the trailer looked incredible. The costume was relatively simple, just a plain black outfit, the difficulty was we required a Brak-scaled helicopter for him to replicate the stunt. We spent a week building a helicopter just for the photo.
What are your professional and artistic backgrounds?
Mike is a firefighter and Steph is an accountant. Neither of us have artistic backgrounds, but Steph enjoys some amateur photography as a hobby and Mike enjoys building things. We are always willing to have a crack at building something new.
Do you guys cosplay too?
Although we occasionally enjoy dressing up ourselves, we particularly enjoy the challenge of building small-scale costumes for Brak rather than human ones. It is creatively quite freeing as screen accuracy is less important and it's more about what looks good on a sausage dog's physique while still being recognizable and true to the spirit of the character.
Have you taken Brakkus to fan conventions? What's the reception like?
We did a Freddy vs. Jason duo for a Halloween event in the city, Brak loved getting photographs and all the attention from strangers and getting up on stage was no sweat for him.
What geeky movies/TV/comics/animation are you each into, primarily?
Mike: I have so much nostalgia for Robocop, Evil Dead II, and The Road Warrior, along with a love for the James Bond series. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai is my favorite comic series and I am also passionate about good pro wrestling.
Steph: I love the Star Wars series, horror movies and anything made by Tim Burton. Aquaman and Green Lantern are my favorite comic book heroes and I also enjoy playing Japanese RPGs.
What were you into as kids?
Mike: For me, nothing was as cool as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I still love to this day. I also loved the big personalities of wrestlers like The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the Rock.
Steph: Growing up, I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hellraiser on a daily basis and spent many hours playing Final Fantasy 7.
Has Brakkus responded especially well to being any particular character?
He probably embodied Michael Myers the most, as stalking his prey comes very naturally to him. He did especially enjoy playing Jack Torrance (The Shining) though all he had to do was peer through a hole while making crazy faces and eating crunchy treats.