As Nine Lives opens to mixed reviews, actor Kevin Spacey opens up about the lengths to which he went in nabbing the starring role of Mr. Fuzzypants in the story which essentially asks what would happen if Christopher Walken could turn Kevin Spacey into a cat. Spacey hopes to appeal to the moviegoers interested in a new talking cat film, as he reveals why getting the Nine Lives role was so important to him and talks about the experience of playing a cat on the big screen. Kevin’s rare brand of dry humor shines through, whether he’s voicing Mr. Fuzzypants or giving an inside look at the making of Nine Lives.
Nine Lives Star Kevin Spacey Isn’t Toying Around
Kevin Spacey participated in a group GQ interview in the hopes of building up appeal for Nine Lives, which opened in theaters yesterday, and Spacey was only too willing to reveal just how determined he was to be awarded the starring role as Tom Brand, A.K.A. Mr. Fuzzypants. Nine Lives director Barry Sonnenfeld says he knew Spacey was serious about the role when he found the actor scratching at his door and begging to be let in. Even more surprising than Kevin’s feline-like behavior was Spacey’s willingness to be paid at scale for the role. One has to wonder why this veteran actor would seem so eager to take a pay cut just to play a talking cat.
“Sure, I could probably have cut a sweeter deal if I’d been willing to play a little hardball—but I couldn’t risk losing the role,” says Mr. Spacey. “I wasn’t going to let Bill Murray or Eric Roberts steal another f—ing talking cat gig out from under me.”
Kevin kept his feline identity active even when cameras weren’t rolling, even rivaling Jared Leto’s off-screen Joker antics in the filming of Suicide Squad. Spacey was even seen crawling the streets of New York and Toronto, where Nine Lives was filmed, in the hopes of getting a true cat experience. Sonnenfeld confirms Spacey stayed in character throughout production, insisting that the entire Nine Lives cast and crew also treated him as the movie’s star cat.
“Even when the cameras weren’t rolling, Kevin stayed in character. From the moment he was cast—the moment—I never saw him get off his hands and knees,” says the Nine Lives director. “He wouldn’t even respond to ‘Kevin.’ The cast and crew were instructed to call him ‘Mr. Fuzzypants’ at all times. He’d snarl at anybody who messed up.”
What The Critics Are Saying About Kevin Spacey As A Cat
Essentially, the premise for Nine Lives is painfully obvious. Cat antics drive social media and the use of cat videos and internet memes have been used to sell products via social media news feeds, so with that much attention and profitability, Hollywood naturally assumes talking cats on the big screen would translate into big bucks. Unfortunately, Entertainment Weekly echoes the feelings of most other film reviewers in expressing the thought that a talking cat, in itself, is not automatically funny or even mildly entertaining. Adding to that formula for disaster, Kevin Spacey plays the typical overworked father, too busy for family and desperately in need of a wake up call, before life passes him by.
Being a workaholic leads Spacey’s character to nearly forget his daughter’s birthday. Spacey saves the day by making a stop at a seedy pet store run by Christopher Walken, where he picks up the cat his daughter so desperately wants for her birthday. It isn’t much later that a freak accident leaves Kevin’s character in a coma and his spirit in the body of Mr. Fuzzypants. Felix Perkins (Walken) reveals that he has had a part in Tom Brand’s (Spacey) misfortune, as he tells him that he will remain in Mr. Fuzzypants’ body until he learns to be a better person. Before he can return to his old life, Mr. Fuzzypants must learn self-sacrifice. Tom also has to learn to be a better husband to his wife, played by Jennifer Garner, and a better father to his adult son (Robbie Amell) and young daughter (Malina Weissman).
It’s a typical talking animal film, lacking in anything new and original, say nearly every Nine Lives film review, and yet devoted cat lovers seem eager to defend it. Nine Lives seems to be a love it or hate it film. Certainly nothing compelling or ground-breaking, but maybe bland performances from Kevin Spacey and Christopher Walken are just entertaining enough for younger minds, freeing up parents to go for the really entertaining cats on Facebook and Instagram.
[Image by EuropaCorp]