Taylor Swift’s cinematic debut probably didn’t go the way she expected. Though she has received some praise for her performance as Bombalurina, Cats has been an unmitigated disaster. And it turns out that the pop icon could have had a much different entry onto the silver screen, except Tom Hooper rejected her from Les Misérables.
In a conversation with Vulture, Cats’ director revealed that Taylor Swift was nearly cast in his 2012 adaptation of Les Misérables -- a film that was much better received, both by critics and at the box office. He also explained why she didn’t make the cut -- and how that rejection ultimately led to her role in Cats:
She had auditioned for Les Mis. She rather brilliantly auditioned for Éponine. I didn’t cast her, but I got very close to it. Ultimately, I couldn’t quite believe Taylor Swift was a girl people would overlook. So it didn’t quite feel right for her for the most flattering reason. But I knew she was curious to work on a musical. When this came up, I wrote to her and just said, 'Would you like to meet? Would you like to see the world I’m creating?' And I did a presentation. Eve Stewart had these wonderful paintings she did of the world. I had a ten-second clip of a dancer with fur, lifelike. That was my pitch. She loved it and was very gracious and really supportive from then on. At that point, I had no idea she’d end up getting involved in writing the new song and getting involved as a lyricist.
As femme fatale Bombalurina, Taylor Swift sings “Macavity: The Mystery Cat,” a song that belongs to two characters in the stage production. Tom Hooper told Vulture that once the singer was on board, he wanted to make sure she got her moment to shine:
In the show, it’s performed by two women. And for a long time, I thought, Well, it’s going to be Taylor Swift and X. Then eventually, part of me was like, Why does it have to be two people? I called Andrew [Lloyd Webber] and said, 'Just remind me why.' And he goes, 'Oh, we only gave it to two people because we felt guilty that the other girl didn’t have enough to do.' Apparently, it was originally designed for one person. I called Taylor up. 'Do you mind if you do it by yourself?' She was obviously totally happy with it.