As a self-proclaimed cat lover, it would be odd if Taylor Swift wasn’t involved in the movie adaption of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic 1981 musical, Cats. So what is Taylor’s involvement in the movie – does she make a surprise cameo or is Swift a starring role?
Yes, Taylor Swift is in the movie Cats. She plays the role of Bombalurina, an orange Bengal cat who serves as right hand man to the villainous Macavity, played by Idris Elba. Swift also co-wrote an original song for the movie, Beautiful Ghosts. It was later nominated for ‘Best Original Song’ at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
Cats may not be the first movie that Taylor has featured in, but it’s certainly the most controversial. Did Swift manage to pull off a performance that her own cats, Olivia, Meredith, and Benjamin, would be proud of? Keep reading to find out how Taylor came to be involved in the star-studded film, and the inspiration behind Beautiful Ghosts.
Back in 2012 Cats director, Tom Hooper, invited Taylor to audition for the role of Cosette in his adaptation of Les Misérables. Despite feeling honoured, Taylor fell in love with Eponine’s song and asked if she could audition for that part instead. She flew to London and did a screen test with Eddie Redmayne, which he described as “extraordinary”.
Ultimately, however, Taylor lost out on the role to theatre actress, Samantha Barks. Speaking to Vulture, Hooper said: “I couldn’t quite believe Taylor Swift was a girl people would overlook, so it didn’t feel quite right for her”. In any case, Swift enjoyed the process and added working with Hooper to her list of ambitions.
7 years later, Taylor’s dream came true. She confirmed her involvement in Hooper’s rendition of Cats by posting an Instagram photo posing next to a ‘Bombalurina’ sign. In a later interview with Variety, Swift explained that she was offered the role outright, and didn’t have to do any screen tests.
Contrary to what the trailers depict, Bombalurina has only a minor involvement in the 110-minute film. First appearing in the final quarter of the musical, Bombalurina teams up with Macavity to sabotage other cats that are interested in the Jellicle choice. Together, Swift and Elba perform the infamous number ‘Macavity the Mystery Cat’, before Swift delivers her sole line of dialogue: “he’s got soul!”
To prepare for the role Swift, along with the rest of the cast, attended cat school. “We would literally do hours on end of barefoot crawling on the floor, hissing at each other. We learned about cat instincts and the way they carry themselves and the way they process information, the way they see the world, the way they move.”, Swift told Variety.
Spending more time on set than she was required to eventually paid off for Taylor, as she was invited by Lloyd Webber to write an original song for the movie. Together the pair produced Beautiful Ghosts, which is performed by Francesca Hayward during the movie and Taylor during the end titles. Andrew always intended to write a song for the role of Victoria but was rushed to debut the musical in 1981 and never got round to it.
To produce the song, Andrew invited Taylor to his London flat. He played Swift a melody but said he was struggling with the words because he didn’t know what he wanted Victoria to be saying. Swift came up with the verse and chorus right there in his office. They completed the rest of the song at his country home. The song went on to be nominated for a Golden Globe but lost out to “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman.
Speaking of her involvement in the movie, Taylor said:
“I had a really great time working on this weird-ass movie. I’m not gonna retroactively decide it wasn’t the best experience”.