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Viral Oscars Dog Sparked Bizarre Conspiracy That It Was Actually A 'Lookalike' Who Attended

After initial reports that Messi, the adorable dog who starred in 'Anatomy of a Fall,' would not be attending the Oscars, reporter Chris Gardner assumed that the canine who did show up was just a 'lookalike'—but that wasn't the case at all.

Messi the dog
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While general moviegoers celebrated Oppenheimer's sweep at the Oscars with seven wins, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Cillian Murphy and Best Director for Christopher Nolan, there was a subset that fixated on whether or not Messi, the dog from the Best Picture nominated film Anatomy of a Fall, was actually seated in the audience.

Messi generated quite a buzz in Hollywood leading up to the 96th Academy Awards ceremony following the border collie's performance as Snoop in the French drama film.

Even Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel was impressed with the good boy's acting.

He commented:

"Even though he’s a dog, [Messi] may have given the performance of the year."

Kimmel added:

"He has an overdose scene. I haven’t seen a French actor eat his own vomit like that since Gérard Depardieu.”

Although The Hollywood Reporter claimed Messi would not attend the Oscars this year, Messi's trainer and dog mom, Laura Martin, shared a photo of the two of them at the ceremony.

This showed that Messi could've been the dog shown in a cutaway clip sitting amongst A-listers at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on Sunday night.

But The Hollywood Reporter's Chris Gardner thought otherwise.

Gardner claimed the four-legged thespian was not in attendance, and that the dog seen in the shared clip was a lookalike during a rehearsal for a bit involving the adorable pup "applauding."

"Messi the dog from Anatomy of a Fall was not due to attend the #Oscars," wrote Gardner, adding:

"But there is a look alike in front of a camera in the Dolby filing a segment with a small audience."

However, Gardner walked back his assumption the following day when a social media user asked if the dog was "fake."

"No!" Gardner wrote and gave an update.

"I was confused because I read Messi wasn’t showing up so I assumed it wasn’t him but I was wrong."
"It was the real thing."

The interaction sparked a debate online with some skeptical users refusing to believe Messi was a lookalike.

Others lashed out over the reality check.

As for why Messi's segments had to be pre-taped, Oscars producer Molly McNearney told Variety that the popular pooch was originally supposed to be at the live ceremony, but after he kept barking during a dress rehearsal it was decided that his segments would be taped separately several hours beforehand.

But McNearney noted that it "wasn't his fault," adding:

"I think he was confused by a signal that a camera guy was giving. He thought it was the barking command."

She also acknowledged that Messi attending the Oscars was already a controversial subject after celebrities fawned over him at a pre-Oscars luncheon back in February.

Martin, who lives with Messi in Paris, recalled:

“The big moment was with Billie Eilish, who bonded with Messi for almost 10 minutes."
"They were hugging and petting and they really had a vibe. Then Bradley Cooper bumped into him in the hallway. The dog went right to him, so they also had a connection.”

However, not everyone was smitten with the puppy love.

According to the media outlet, a source noted that the film companies with the nominated films expressed concern that all the attention Messi was getting was an unfair advantage during the voting window.

It's unclear if that was the impetus for Messi allegedly being barred from attending the awards show.

But a photo posted by Martin showing her at the Oscars with a dog presumed to be Messi proved there was no issue with him being there.

Here is a carousel of photos starting with Martin holding the prop paws for the comedy bit followed by one with Messi in the next slide.

At least we think it's him.

The jury is still out on the Messi situation.

Is he a lookalike? The pup-arazzi following him around say otherwise.