Melissa McCarty surprised audiences at the 45th Telluride Film Festival with her performance in the film Can You Ever Forgive Me? The World Premier had people buzzing about her clear run at Best Actress, but it was her comments during the Q&A that had folks talking.
The film is based on a memoir by a woman who had some success as a celebrity biographer. As often happens in both real and movie-life, she falls on hard times and has to figure things out for herself and her cat, 12-year old Jersey. Things start to turn around when she comes across an old letter from Fanny Brice and learns there is a market for people who collect this kind of memorabilia. She discovers a new revenue stream, though not particularly honest to start, and her luck changes. But, back to the cat.
On Cats Being Trained for the Movies
While dogs often get all the props for train-ability, cats, when it comes the movie-making, often get a bad rap. There are many who find felines extremely difficult to work with. As with any animal, humans included, there will be those who excel and those who won’t. Some train more quickly, others take longer, and some productions may require more of them. In fact, twelve cats were used in the making of the film Bell, Book, and Candle, starring Kim Novak. According to the Meow Mix: The 100 Most Iconic Cats in Movies, the cat trainer for the movie said, “You can’t teach one cat do to 12 tricks, but you can teach 12 cats to do one trick each.” That statement may have many raising their eyebrows, however, it does beg the question as to whether the cats chose to only do one thing. Anyone who knows a cat might be in agreement.
The cat for this movie, Towne, appears to be an exception.
About the Cat
As reported in Deadline by Pete Hammond, director Marielle Heller shared during the session, “I heard there are actually Academy Awards for pets. I can’t remember what they are called but I call them the Cat Oscars and this cat should win. His name was Towne. For this movie we had to have a cat actor, we had to cast for cat actors, so the trainer said ‘well this is our best performing cat’. So how good can this cat be? She’s a he by the way. His character Jersey is a girl. He does that very well too.”
McCarthy picked up saying, “The first time I take him, or her , whatever to the vet , while we are at the counter he sneezed. And I look at him and literally thought ‘are you KIDDING me? Are you pretending to be sick?’ Then Marielle cuts and I looked to the camera and said to myself, ‘this cat is OUT-ACTING me’.”
Hammond added his own observation, writing Towne seemed to be a feline Marlon Brando, based on all descriptors.
The Closest Thing to a Cat Oscar? The Pawscars
Sadly, in spite of new categories being added to the Academy Awards this year, including the controversial Most Popularhonor, Best Animal Actor in a Motion Picture is not one of them.
However, there are the Pawscar Awards presented by the American Humane Society. Although the awards have not been celebrated since 2015, we will all have to stay tuned to see if Towne is honored as 2019’s top cat in the industry.