While the rest of the Jezebel staff was suffering through a Cats screening in Times Square, I was chained to a sofa in California, my brain slowly melting out of my brain while live-blogging last night’s democratic debate. And because I don’t plan on sitting through this movie any time soon—I’d rather torture myself with the definitely terrible Star Wars IX—my only knowledge of the film comes from some deranged press interviews with the many actors and singers and dancers leaping about in Cats.
Below is a list of dumb shit these famous people-turned-cats have said since the film’s horrifying summer trailer, up through the film’s release this week. I’m convinced that half of the actors featured will walk away with some form of trauma, while the others will spend the rest of their lives licking themselves like cats and peeing in litter boxes. Some seemed smitten with the idea of “cat school,” others flat-out refused to attend, and one even left the film convinced she was playing a trans cat person. (???) If anything, the Cats press cycle has taught a very important lesson: If you are going to force some people to jump around in CGI jumpsuits so you can digitally recreate their faces on anthropomorphic cat bodies, just put them in some hair and makeup instead! (And please, for the love of god, explain the movie to the actors before sending them out into the scary, cutthroat world of junket interviews!)
Dame Judi Dench, on the kind of cat she thought she was: “The thing is, with the CGI, you’re wearing a green leotard and spots all over you. And I thought I knew the kind of cat I was—I’ve had cats all my life—but when I saw myself, I suddenly realized I’d turned into this cat I had of my own called Carpet once, who was a huge orange bruiser. [The Graham Norton Show]
Taylor Swift, on going to Cat School: “Cat school is something you could do as little of or as much of as you wanted, depending on what you wanted to do. I was in cat school a lot—I was in there a lot. I mean, you’re crawling around on the floor, you’re studying videos and pictures of cats. You’re learning about their anatomy, their impulses, their instincts, how they sense things, how they move, how they walk, blah blah blah. ‘Cuz we were told: ‘You guys are not going to be cats. You’re not going to be walking around on all fours, and you’re not going to be standing up the whole time.’ [...] You really go full cat, or zero percent cat.” [Today Show]
Jason Derulo, on being transported to a different dimension: “It’s bringing you to another dimension about cats, right? How cats live, how they thrive, what are they looking forward to? [...] We like to be transported to different worlds.” [Social News XYZ]
Francesca Hayward, on animorphing into a cat in her free time: “When I was with my friends, sometimes they’d look at me weirdly, and be like ‘Frankie, you just picked that up like a cat.’ There was like, I don’t know, something feline about the way I was doing things.” [Jimmy Kimmel Live]
Idris Elba, on what the fuck Cats is even about: “It’s one cat’s journey towards what is essentially Cat Heaven. The idea is we all... you know, we aspire to get towards Cat Heaven. It’s this young cat... and she gets sort of... you know... taken on this story about how to get to Cat Heaven. Or what you should do to get into Cat Heaven. How am I doing? Does anyone know what the story is?!” [The Late Show]
Jennifer Hudson, on what the Heaviside Layer is exactly: “Basically, you know how cats get a ninth life. They have a ball once a year and only one cat gets that ninth life. They get to display their talent, whatever that is, and try to earn the ninth life.” [The Late Show]
Judi Dench, giving an absolutely bonkers response when asked about being cast in a role traditionally played by men: “I kind of call it ‘trans Deuteronomy.” (Side note: The Out Magazine interview in which this quote was featured was deleted two weeks ago, and reposted, here.)
Jennifer Hudson, on acting with dots on her face: “I feel like we were so taken with our imaginations, I kind of forgot we had dots on her faces. I think we found our inner cats and became that in the moment, because I don’t really recall seeing dots on any of [their] faces.” [Today Show]
James Corden, on people who are also cats: “These are people, but they’re also cats.” [“Cats, A Look Inside”]
Sir Ian McKellan, on not going to cat school: “Well, I didn’t really go to cat school. [...] I was on my hind legs, so there wasn’t much chance to look like a cat, so I just went for the reality.”[Social News XYZ]
Idris Elba, explaining cat school like it was a sexual experience: “You start at 8 a.m. in the morning and you walk in and you get on your knees. Then, for at least seven minutes, you prowl around nuzzling each other, smelling each other, rolling around and basically doing what you think cats do.” [Variety]
Jason Derulo, on his dick getting “CGI-ed out” of the movie: “To make it as cat-like as possible, I think that’s what it was about.” [Radio Andy]
So, what have I learned? In this movie, a group of people gather together in green leotards to paint some dots all over each other. These dots are part of a complex ritual that slowly transforms their body into something resembling cats—like an Animorph. The changes to their anatomy was so excruciating that some actors feared they wouldn’t survive the transformation. Afterwards, their genitalia also began to disappear, as the race of alien cats they’ve become don’t have any need for sex or reproduction in the Heaviside Layer, a mystical dimension they are competing with each other to enter. It’s sort of like heaven, except only alien cats who are exceptional singers and dancers can live there. But once they’ve ascended—who really knows!
Anyway, Cats is out now wherever you choose to watch movies. See it, or don’t see it! And congratulations to whichever Animorph ascended to heaven in the end, I’m glad they were lucky enough to sit this press cycle out!