Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
Also starring: Scotty
Directed by: David Fincher
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains some spoilers for this film!
Synopsis: The American film version of Stieg Larsson’s popular first installment of the Millennium series. Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a bold journalist who is hired by a wealthy man to learn the truth behind his daughter’s disappearance which took place forty years before.
Featured Feline: Unlike the Swedish film version, the American film includes the stray cat from the original book. The tabby cat actor playing the part is Scotty (although some online sources state his name was Roscoe . . . there was likely more than one cat working on the film which may account for the two names.)
When Mikael arrives at the cottage on Henrik Vanger’s estate on the island, he sees a cat outside his window. He opens the window and allows the stray cat to come in.
The cat is seen several times during the film, sitting on a chair or table, mostly minding his own business.
The highlight of the cat’s appearances is one scene where Mikael awakens one morning. The cat is sleeping on the bed right next to Mikael’s head.
When Mikael sits up he pulls the covers closer around him. The cat reacts by pouncing on the moving sheets, causing Mikael to pull back, startled. The cat quickly jumps off the bed.
Kitty Carnage Warning! Unfortunately the cat becomes a victim of the killer whom Mikael and Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) are seeking. As Mikael steps outside the door of the cottage for a smoke lets out an expletive and we see the cat has been dismembered and left in front of the door as a warning. Lisbeth takes pictures of the poor cat for evidence. Director David Fincher assures any worried viewers that Scotty the cat was miles away when the fake dismembered cat was staged for this scene.
Roscoe’s trainer was Bettina Browne Weld from Hollywood Animals, who also worked as the trainer on the film Drag Me to Hell. Bettina was quoted in an article for the L.A. Times that even though cat actors typically work in teams of three, Scotty stole the show. “He did a very good job playing all roles. He had to come in through the window, and then jump into the cottage and run across the floor into the kitchen.” The trainer (who admits a preference for working with big cats as opposed to the domesticated ones) went on to explain, ” . . . I definitely learned to work a cat without food, because director David Fincher likes a lot of natural action, and natural action you can’t do with food. Scotty’s very toy-and-movement-driven. So I learned to work him with my hand and just little subtle movements. I had never worked with a cat in that way before, so that was fun and new. Whenever you go on set, you never know what you’re getting into. You just have to have that personality where you can go with the flow.”
Director David Fincher also had nothing but praise for the cat actor, explaining on the DVD commentary how they had closed rehearsals to see what Scotty would naturally do first and then built the scenes around that. “If you don’t expect cats to do something they’ll normally give you a very cat-like response,” Fincher explained.
Final Mewsings: Cats should be careful to make sure the people they friend don’t have dangerous enemies!