Ian McKellen has this to say about the critical reception to Cats four years later

Ian McKellen, and left, in Cats (Images: Universal Pictures/Jack McGuire)
Ian McKellen, and left, in Cats (Images: Universal Pictures/Jack McGuire)

Sir Ian McKellen has reflected on the critical mauling of Cats in a new interview with Attitude.

The acting legend, who plays a theatre reviewer in his upcoming movie The Critic, starred in Cats alongside the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Taylor Swift.

The star played the role of Gus: The Theatre cat in the Tom Hooper-directed flop, which received universally negative reviews.

“If you think the film got bad reviews, you should have seen the reviews for the stage show” – Ian McKellen

“I have to temper what I say about Cats,” McKellen told us of the furore four years later.

“When I saw it in the theatre, directed by a good friend of mine, in its previews. I was sat next to the most powerful man in American theatre, who was wondering whether to bring the show to Broadway. Of course, it broke every record.

“At the interval, he said: ‘I don’t think Broadway would accept amateur British attitudes to singing and dancing.’ Almost every critic agreed. If you think the film got bad reviews, you should have seen the reviews for the stage show! His eight-year-old niece on the other side of him said [imitates a New York accent]: ‘I loved it!'”

He went on: “When critics are clearly at odds with the public… A show you know the public are enjoying, or would enjoy, is killed by some negative [reaction]… In the case of Cats, the disapproval seems to be universal.”

Ian McKellen (Percy) and Roger Allam (Frank) in Frank and Percy (Image: Jack Merriman)
Ian McKellen (Percy) and Roger Allam (Frank) in Frank and Percy (Image: Jack Merriman)

Discussing the Gemma Arterton-costarring The Critic, McKellen also said: “I play a gay critic who does the most terrible things through his work. I don’t think there’s ever been a critic like him. Although there have been critics with enormous power.”

Elsewhere in his interview with Attitude, McKellen reflecting on the possibility of a new Section 28 law, and his new play Frank and Percy.

“It would make – it will make a very good film,” said the 84-year-old of the play. “In fact, there’s a screenplay being written as we speak. It doesn’t need much tinkering with to make it cinematic.”

Frank and Percy is on stage now at London’s Other Palace Theatre.

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