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Cats the movie is only a few months old and it's already become one of the more infamous productions in Hollywood history. It was the target of some incredibly harsh reviews and social media was its usual, less than kind, self. The movie is so...unique, that it's hard to imagine how Cats could ever have worked. But putting Hugh Jackman in it maybe could have been an improvement.
Hugh Jackman previously starred in Les Misérables directed by Tom Hooper, and so, with Hooper helming another major Broadway musical, might he have tried to enlist his friend and colleague once again? It turns out that, yes, he might have, and he in fact did. Jackman recently revealed to The Daily Beast that he and Hooper did talk about Cats and it sounds like the Greatest Showman actor could have very easily been in the movie, but the scheduling simply didn't work. According to Jackman...
You know, Tom rang me early on because we did Les Mis together, and there were a couple of options there based on availability and time, and I really… yeah, I just wasn’t available at the time.
Hugh Jackman is one of the biggest stars in the world and he got his start on Broadway, and has made many successful film musicals from Les Mis to The Greatest Showman. If anybody is making a movie base on a Broadway show, any director, never mind one who had worked with Jackman before, would be crazy not to try to get Jackman in a role.
The actor says there were a couple of potential roles offered to him based on his availability. I can't be the only one who is already having images of Hugh Jackman as Macavity, the role played by Idris Elba in the film. It's one of the most prominent male roles in the movie and it just seems like the sort of role Jackman could easily slip into. That's probably the role he would have played if he had been able to play a significant part.
However, it sounds like there was another option on offer, likely a smaller part that Jackman could have played if he had some time, but not as much, to dedicate to the film. Many of the roles in Cats are small parts, where a character appears, sings a song, and then disappears from the story. This one is a bit less obvious, at least to me. Though if I could choose, seeing Jackman as Skimbleshanks, which was already the best part of the Cats film, would have been welcome.
It's easy to say now that Hugh Jackman dodged a bullet by not being in Cats. However, you won't hear Jackman say that himself. As somebody who is still planning to appear back on Broadway later this year in The Music Man, Jackman isn't looking to bad mouth the film, if for no other reason than he hasn't seen it.
I’m in the theater, man, and I don’t want to be in the business of bashing people—or jumping on bandwagons. I haven’t seen it, and Tom Hooper’s one of the great filmmakers we have.
Would Hugh Jackman appearing in Cats helped the film, or would he simply have gone down with the ship? We'll never really know the answer.