Jennifer Hudson on Cats: "It’s unfortunate that it was misunderstood"

Jennifer Hudston in Cats
(Image credit: Universal)

Remember the tail end of 2019? Those were halcyon days for us cinemagoers. Despite being torn into two groups by the controversial finale to the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we were united by our general bafflement at Tom Hooper’s Cats.

The popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was transformed into a fantastical CGI fever dream that featured cats with breasts and tap-dancing cockroaches. It bombed spectacularly at the box office and was one of the worst-reviewed films of that year. Jennifer Hudson’s show-stopping performance of "Memory" was one of the few bright spots that received praise from critics. 

So, what did she make of the apoplectic reaction to the film? 

"I loved that you asked about Cats!" she tells Total Film during an interview for the actor's latest movie, Respect, a biopic about Aretha Franklin. "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!"

In fact, Hudson loved the experience so much, she got two cats of her own, naming one after her character and the other one after Macavity, Elba’s resplendent teleporting feline. "They are the best thing I’ve ever had. I love them so much."

Hudson's next musical outing is Respect, which she also serves as executive producer on. "It’s the greatest honor, and at the same time, it’s scary," she says of playing Franklin. "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 in US theaters now and reaches UK cinemas on September 10. For more from Hudson, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on Friday 20 August. Check out the new cover below, as well as the cover of the special supplement that comes with the issue. 

Total Film's Dune issue and special supplement

(Image credit: Total Film/Warner Bros)

And if you're a fan of Total Film, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? You can grab both a physical and digital subscription – and subscribers get exclusive covers and big discounts. Click through the link for more info.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.