It’s not exactly a secret that Taylor Swift loves cats. She’s got three of her own — Meredith, Olivia, and the newest family member, Benjamin Button — and her four-legged friends have made cameos in everything from her music videos to her lyrics.
Now she’ll be taking her feline fanaticism to a new level, starring as — you guessed it — a cat in Tom Hooper’s upcoming Cats film. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical is getting the big-screen treatment, and the star-studded cast includes Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theater Cat, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Idris Elba as Macavity, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, and Jason Derulo as the Rum Tum Tugger.
Swift has signed on as Bombalurina, a female cat who appears throughout the musical. (Her biggest number is the jazzy “Macavity,” and ode to Elba’s mysterious villain.)
The pop star tells EW that when Hooper first approached her about the role, she was curious about how the long-running stage show would translate to the screen. She’d previously appeared in films like Valentine’s Day and The Giver, but Cats would be a whole other, um, beast.
“Obviously, I loved the show, I loved the music, and one of the things that made Cats so special when it came out in the ’80s was that it was presented in a way people hadn’t seen before,” she says. “[But] what about this is going to give people that same awe factor [that] we’re seeing something completely original? I was like, ‘Are we gonna be in the Lycra catsuits with fur glued to us? Like, what are we talking about here?’”
The Lycra catsuits were out: Instead, Hooper showed her a demo reel of what to expect, with fur, tails, whiskers, and other cat accoutrements to be added in post-production.
“They add digital fur to us,” she explains. “They’re completely human performances. It’s not animated. And it’s not motion capture. It’s somehow this new way that hasn’t been done before. And they’re giving us a tail that moves naturally, and ears and whiskers. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.”
And even though Swift lives with a few cats of her own, she took her role seriously and did some additional research.
“I just fully committed and threw myself into the process and had the most fun,” she says. “We had this thing called ‘cat school’ that was a class where you could learn about how to create the motions of cats, how to think like they think, how to sense things the way that they do, carry yourself the way a cat would. I learned a lot.”
Reporting by Alex Suskind.
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Cats (2019 movie)