Cats did not have the warmest reception when it was released (to say the least), but star Jennifer Hudson remains very proud of her work on the controversial movie. Directed by Tom Hooper and based on the popular stage musical of the same name, Cats features an impressive ensemble cast as singing humanoid cats covered in digitally added fur. In part due to the design of the characters, Cats was a box office bomb that was universally panned by critics.
As one of the stars of Cats, Jennifer Hudson was asked about the movie's reception in a recent interview with Total Film. For her part, she feels that the movie is probably just ahead of its time, believing that people will look back at Cats much more fondly in the future. Refusing to see the movie's failures as an embarrassment, Hudson also explains how she remains proud and grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the project. From the interview:
"I loved that you asked about Cats! You know what? I think it was a bit overwhelming. It's unfortunate that it was misunderstood. I think later down the line, people will see it differently. But it is something I am still very proud of and grateful to have been a part of. Yeah, I got to be Grizabella the Glamour Cat!"
Negative reception aside, Cats has brought great joy to Hudson's life. In addition to her involvement with the production, the experience inspired the singer and actress to adopt two cats of her own. She named one Grizabella, after her own character, while naming the other after Macavity, Idris Elba's character. Hudson noted, "They are the best thing I've ever had. I love them so much."
Tom Hooper directed Cats using a screenplay co-written with Lee Hall. While the Cats stage show has typically featured performers wearing cat costumes, the consensus was that it just didn't translate as well when developed for the big screen with CGI, regardless of the talent involved. Along with Hudson and Elba, the cast includes James Corden, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Hayward.
Meanwhile, Hudson's newest role sees her starring as legendary singer Aretha Franklin in the new biopic Respect, a movie she also executive produced. In her Total Film interview, Hudson explained the stress in portraying such a beloved music icon and the challenges that came with it. Before she passed away, Franklin personally named Hudson as the woman she wanted to play her in a movie, and this helped give Hudson the motivation she needed to continue.
"It's the greatest honor, and at the same time, it's scary," she said. "While filming I had to calm myself [by saying], 'If Aretha says I can do this, then I can do it.' Because you can't just get up one day and be, 'I'm gonna be Aretha Franklin.' No, it don't work like that, you know? My only goal is to make her proud. If she says she wants me to play her, it must be something within me that she sees."
Respect is now playing in US theaters with a UK release set for Sept. 10. The new interview with Hudson can be checked out in the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on Aug. 20. The quotes from Hudson come to us from GamesRadar.