Famous actors Jordan Peele and Michael Key released the comedy flick Keanu in April 2016. Although the actors played their part to perfection, the film’s real star was a do-rag-wearing tabby cat.
The movie’s director revealed afterward that it actually took him seven kittens to play the cat in Keanu. Moreover, the felines had to resemble each other to convince viewers.
Keanu was helmed by the American movie studio New line. In the film, two lazy bums discover a drug dealer has stolen their kitten.
To get their pet back, the main characters pretend to be brutal criminals and infiltrate the dealer’s gang. For the project’s promotion, posters depicting a ginger kitten wearing gold chains and a do-rag headwrap appeared on many billboards.
When moviemaker Peter Atencio was mounting his project, some collaborators suggested he use a virtual cat to film the scenes. In fact, there’s a consensus that cats don’t take directions very well.
Unlike dogs who aim to please, felines are not exactly made for the silver screen. One of the reasons is that self-satisfaction is usually the top priority for cats.
Still, Peter Atencio wanted real moggies, so he held auditions. He then narrowed down his choice to two breeds of kitties, black-and-white tuxedo and brown tabby.
As tabby kittens were easier to find in shelters, the director picked them. Three were sent to animal trainers Larry Paine and April Mackin of Birds and Animals Unlimited.
These trainers prepared their recruits for weeks with treats and repetition. Nacho, Jefe, and Squib learned to do their stunts, like dodging exploding squibs.
The seven kittens in action
Once everyone was ready, filming started in Louisiana. One of the biggest challenges was convincing the pets to wear headwraps.
Jewelry wasn’t an issue because the bling was lightweight plastic and less annoying. In one scene, Payne smeared baby food on the man’s face to get the kittens to kiss an actor.
The felines were set royalty; everyone loved them. Four additional cats were brought in as the first one outgrew their characters.
To ensure their adequate treatment, a representative from the American Humane Association was present throughout filming.
These pets had a soothing effect on the cast and film crew. Trainer Payne said to The Hollywood Reporter:
” If anybody was having a bad day, they’d send them over to the kittens”
Peter Atencio also brought his own cat Patrick to join the fun. The director felt like working with kittens daily and going home to an empty house didn’t feel good.
At the end of the three-month shooting, people and pets had a ball. Furthermore, every shelter kitten used on set found a forever home.