Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of King’s speech, revealed some of the logic behind the creative choices guiding his latest film, Cats.
A starred version of the hit musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats especially encountered ridicule, nausea and confusion when it was created just before Christmas last year. Critics have questioned special effects and eroticism, the public has remained largely out of the picture, and some of the stars have denied the film.
The commentary by director Hooper, recorded for the film’s home release, highlights some of the decisions behind what is considered one of the most calamitous missteps in the history of cinema.
Although Hooper does not deal directly with the reception of the film on the audio track, some of his ideas defend – or postpone – widely vilified choices, including the moment when the tabby cat of Rebel Wilson decompresses his own fur – to reveal a extra layer from below.
“This gag,” says Hooper, “is sort of my own ironic way of speaking that I use digital fur as clothing because Rebel actually decompresses its digital fur to reveal it as clothing. But the joke is that ‘underneath, she has more real fur, which is of course not real fur.
Other disconcerting elements are also discussed by Hooper, who credited Wilson with the idea that mice enslave his character and terrorize children. He then adds: “Women who play cockroaches – the only unusual feature of which is that they have an extra pair of arms, in tribute to the number of cockroach members.”
Wilson appeared on stage at this year’s Oscars alongside her Cats co-star James Corden to present the award for best visual effects. In their introduction, the pair made reference to the bad reviews the film – and its effects in particular – had attracted.
The next day, the pair and the producers of the broadcast have been criticized by the VFX Society, saying that “the best visual effects in the world will not make up for a bad story.”
In his commentary, Hooper praises the duo’s “big game”, in particular Corden’s apparent break from the fourth wall in an alley scene. “I love the idea that James would step out of the movie for a moment to recognize the type of natural tension between their claim that they were cats and the type of hybrid conception.”
Hooper gives other actors grace notes in the film, including an unscripted look exchanged by Old Deuteronomy by Judi Dench and Gus the cat by Ian McKellen, indicating that the couple was once in love. Dench and McKellen, said Hooper, “have decided that their cats have some sort of romantic story.”
Hooper, 47, has yet to announce his next project, but his comment gives an overview of his current activities. “I must admit that I actually tried to bow down to a cat and say” Oh cat “just in the slight hope that it might free the cat from talking to me,” he said. “It hasn’t worked yet, but I’ll keep trying.”