Turns out that just as seamlessly as legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber can create a hit musical, he can dole out some harsh (but incredibly valid) criticism. In a recent interview with Variety, the mastermind composer behind Broadway musicals such as Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, and Jesus Christ Superstar came down hard on the 2019 film adaptation of his musical Cats, ultimately calling the production “off-the-scale-wrong” and director Tom Hooper’s approach to the material “ridiculous” — an opinion many shared. In fact, Webber claims the film was so bad, it ultimately caused him to adopt a dog, a first for the 73-year-old.
“Cats was off-the-scale all wrong. There wasn’t really any understanding of why the music ticked at all. I saw it and I just thought, ‘Oh, God, no.’ It was the first time in my 70-odd years on this planet that I went out and bought a dog. So the one good thing to come out of it is my little Havanese puppy.”
According to Webber, the Cats disaster began when the source material — which was sold to Amblin with the intent of the studio turning it into a Steven Spielberg-directed animated feature — was eventually given to Hooper, the director behind critically-acclaimed films such as Les Misérables and The Kings Speech. While the choice seemed a safe one at the time, Webber says the decision was ultimately “disastrous.”
However, Webber’s new furry companion has proven to be quite the silver lining throughout the whole ordeal. The composer says the puppy has been a “constant companion” to him throughout the pandemic, ultimately going so far as to register the pup as an emotional support animal to ensure he would be able to bring the dog with him on trips to New York. Webber then offered a short and mercilessly hilarious anecdote on that process, joking that Cats was so terrible it left him “emotionally damaged” enough to need a support animal.
“I wrote off and said I needed him with me at all times because I’m emotionally damaged and I must have this therapy dog,” says Lloyd Webber. “The airline wrote back and said, ‘Can you prove that you really need him?’ And I said ‘Yes, just see what Hollywood did to my musical “Cats.”’ Then the approval came back with a note saying, ‘No doctor’s report required.’”