Cats is a perfect example of Hollywood hubris. How could you fail with an Oscar-winning director, a star-studded cast, a hundred million dollar budget and a much-loved musical? Well, we all know the result. What lasciviously slithered into cinemas was genuinely nightmarish yet also somehow compelling. I saw it soon after release and it’s definitely an experience that’s going to stay with me for a long time.
Fortunately, most of the cast seems to have come through the fiasco with their careers intact. Being smothered under digital fur technology helped, and the truly off-putting elements of the movie are obviously the responsibility of the director and overworked VFX teams. But still, anyone who turned down a role in Cats probably thinks they’ve dodged a bullet.
One such person is Hugh Jackman. As the star of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, he was the top choice for a role (perhaps Macavity?), but said no and revealed why in a new interview with The Daily Beast, explaining:
“You know, Tom rang me early on because we did Les Mis together, and there were a couple of options there based on availability and time, and I really… yeah, I just wasn’t available at the time.”
And when he was asked about whether he was glad he was otherwise engaged?
“I’m in the theater, man, and I don’t want to be in the business of bashing people—or jumping on bandwagons. I haven’t seen it, and Tom Hooper’s one of the great filmmakers we have.”
I can’t help but suspect that Jackman might revise his opinion of Tom Hooper if he actually watched Cats. That said, any director who could produce a film like this is clearly unusual and special in some capacity, so I hope Hooper’s career from now on is a series of increasingly bizarre and disturbing nightmare movies. Personally, I’d love to see his take on anthropomorphic singing trains musical Starlight Express.