Cats Writer Andrew Lloyd Webber Doesn't Seem To Be A Fan Of James Corden's Performance

James Corden as Bustopher Jones with the cast of Tom Hooper's Cats
(Image credit: (Universal))

Everytime we learn something new about Tom Hooper’s Cats, the more we start to think that the version released in theaters was actually less terrifying than what could have been. A few VFX artists have already spilled about the alleged “Butthole Cut” that at one time existed… which is literally just Cats, but the cast has visible buttholes. Andrew Lloyd Webber is spilling the milk about Bustopher Jones too, as evidently that aspect of the movie somehow could have been worse.

The composer held a live commentary of the filmed 1998 version of Cats in memory of his poor cat Mika, who was run over by a car last month. During the sequence, Andrew Lloyd Webber took some time to rant about James Corden’s portrayal in the 2019 musical. In his words:

Bustopher without interruption, as I wrote it. Do not be beguiled by other versions. Other versions with unfunny interpolations which I begged to be cut out. I did manage to get the worst of them removed. I cannot tell you how absolutely un-Eliot it all was in this song.

Andrew Lloyd Webber went on to explain T.S. Eliot’s intentions when he wrote the character of Bustopher Jones in his ‘30s poem collection, which Webber put to music for the Broadway musical. Eliot wrote Bustopher as a “wonderful observation” about a kind of Edwardian gentleman found on St. James Street in central London back in the day.

Andrew Lloyd Webber reminisced about a real man called P. Chadwyck-Healey he had met once who would have made a good Bustopher. It sounds like James Corden’s version directly violated the original vision for the character. Webber doesn’t name the late night host, but these are the words that really give away he’s talking all about 2019’s Cats:

He certainly didn’t hang around on a seesaw.

Oops! That's definitely a slight at James Corden’s portrayal. Just take a look at the scene – it’s filled with gags that bring attention to the cat’s size and often pokes fun as his taste for devouring scraps:

Seesaw accounted for! With a look back on the 1998 stage version of Bustopher Jones’ song, you can see what Andrew Lloyd Webber means. James Barron’s version gives off a sense of dignity and poshness that is completely lost in Tom Hooper’s version. Check it out:

And of course now we want to know what the “worst of them” was that Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to get removed from the film. James Corden’s scene is just one of many issues one could take with the 2019 box office bomb.

The CGI work was publicly mocked since the first trailer dropped, leading Tom Hooper to make changes to the film up until the week of the film’s premiere, and even after it had arrived in theaters. Anonymous VFX crew members have claimed working on the film for Tom Hooper was “almost slavery” full of 90-hour work weeks and a rushed production.

At least James Corden’s does't sound like he's too proud of it either. The Late Late host reportedly hasn’t even seen Cats following the viral response. Corden will next lend his voice to Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, hitting theaters on January 15, 2021, and the Netflix musical adaptation Prom.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.