Tom Hooper is grateful for the harsh response the first Cats trailer received as it helped him change some elements of the film.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Les Miserables director confessed he was “entertained” by the polarising reaction the preview clip garnered on social media when it dropped back in July and was motivated to work more on the special effects that transformed stars such as Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, and Taylor Swift into felines.
Hooper added that he used some of the feedback to redesign “every single cat to some extent, whether small or large”.
“I think probably my original dream to use a lot of the human face had gotten perhaps a bit lost in that process of rushing to make that first trailer,” he explained, noting that he wanted to emphasise the more human features in each cat’s face.
“I really concentrated on bringing back the actors’ faces because when you’ve got Ian McKellen or Judi Dench or Taylor Swift, why would you not want to? I don’t know if that’s what the comments were asking for, but what I took from it was that I needed to reconnect with my original plan and make sure I was delivering on that.”
The filmmaker, who won an Academy Award for The King’s Speech in 2011, also noted that his team had tested out prosthetics on the actors, similar to those used in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running stage musical, but they fell flat.
Accordingly, Hooper decided to use visual effects, keeping the actors’ facial expressions while adding tails, whiskers, and fur – though he had to wait for the technology to catch up to his vision.
“Even three years ago, when I described what I wanted to do, people said, ‘It’s not technically possible,'” the 47-year-old recalled.
Cats, also starring James Corden, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, and Francesca Hayward, hits cinemas from 20 December.
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