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.
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