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Jason biggs helps rescue the dogs in 'Eight below'

Young actor Jason Biggs quickly became one of Hollywood's most talked-about young actors after his breakthrough role in the "American Pie" trilogy. The three films combined to make over $350 million in America alone and helped cement Biggs as a household face in the industry. Now, Biggs provides comic relief in Walt Disney Pictures' rescue-action-adventure "Eight Below" as the wily cartographer Cooper.

Inspired by a true story, "Eight Below" is an exciting tale about loyalty and the bonds of friendship set in the extreme wilderness of Antarctica. In the film, three members of a scientific expedition: Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker), his best friend, Cooper (Biggs), and a rugged American geologist (Bruce Greenwood), who are forced to leave behind their team of beloved sled dogs due to a sudden accident and perilous weather conditions in Antarctica. During the harsh, Antarctic winter, the dogs must struggle for survival alone in the intense frozen wilderness for over six months until the adventurers can mount a rescue mission.

Every expedition to remote places relies on the brighter things in life - friendship, laughs and enthusiasm - to help survive the harsh conditions. >From the beginning, director Frank Marshall felt the character of Cooper would help to add not only flashes of high-spirited humor but some Antarctic-style realism to the story.

"When we were researching life in Antarctica, we found out that there are a lot of very colorful, quirky, unusual people who are drawn to working there, and Cooper is representative of that. You have to have a real sense of humor to live in those kinds of conditions and he really brings the fun factor to the story," Marshall observes.

Biggs couldn't put down the screenplay. "Man, did I want those dogs to be saved," he recalls. "I immediately thought it was a cool story. It was compelling and sweet and also heroic, and it felt especially moving since it's based on something that really happened. "

He was also quickly taken with Cooper's wit and gusto. "Cooper's an energetic, high-on-life type of person who truly loves being in a place like Antarctica. To quote Cooper, it's the only place on earth where you can have 20 hours of sunshine and all the snow cones you can eat. He equates that with sheer bliss," says Biggs. "But there's more to Cooper because he is also a loyal friend to Jerry. They're the kind of friends who give each other a hard time but underneath, they're always there for each other."

Another draw for Biggs was the chance to bring his larger-than-life personality to his very first action film. "I'd been looking to do something different and this is a whole new genre for me - family adventure - something I've always wanted to do," he says.

Biggs didn't start "Eight Below" as a dog person, but he was soon irretrievably charmed by the devotion and skill of his canine cast-mates. "The dogs turned out to be awesome characters in their own right and great to work with," he says. "And I have to say, they're pretty good actors. In fact, I was quite envious of their performances!"

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