Like Evan Rachel Wood, I found myself in the grips of a meltdown like 10 minutes into Cats; every time I checked in with my own face, it had rearranged itself in a rictus of horrified confusion. There’s an unsettling skin suit that keeps getting unzipped; there’s the lingering question of why these alleged animals have human hands and breasts, but also full-body fur and that eerie tail-butt combination. I cannot unsee any of this nightmare material, so you can imagine my indignation upon learning that certain Cats cast members have never seen it at all.
James Corden, for example; the man who played Bustopher Jones — the top-hatted, tuxedo-wearing cat creature — and who reportedly left the film’s premiere after the red carpet, due to an early call time in Los Angeles the following morning. Corden has previously responded to Cats-related inquiries with statements like, “I’m sure it’s terrible;” now, he has confirmed to the New Yorker that he still hasn’t watched the unmitigated box office disaster he helped create, and further, that he probably never will.
“I can’t imagine I’ll see it,” Corden said. “It’s important to say I had the best time making it. At some point, you have to go, ‘How am I going to judge my own experience? Am I only going to have enjoyed something if it was successful?’”
That really seems like a question that can only be answered by seeing the dang movie, though. Corden’s fellow costars have seen it: Taylor Swift described Cats as a “weird-ass” ride, but said she has “no complaints” about getting involved. Sir Ian McKellen — whose interpretation of the assignment differed markedly from his fellow cats’ and made him, I think, the best cat of all — called the project “unfilmable,” “a ridiculous enterprise,” and still admitted: “I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw it, and I’m not really a cat person, I prefer dogs.”
This is the correct attitude to have, this willingness to publicly embrace one’s arguable failures. And also, if the rest of us have to live with Cats’ terrifying ghost, then so must the people who made it. The time has come for James Corden to face the consequences of his actions. The time has come for James Corden to watch Cats.
This article has been updated with clarification on Corden’s scheduling conflict.