Hooper, who would eventually go on to direct the singer in Cats, revealed in a recent interview with Vulture that while he came close to casting Swift in the 2012 movie, he ultimately didn’t believe Swift fit the character of an impoverished girl who gets overlooked.
“She had auditioned for Les Mis. She rather brilliantly auditioned for Éponine. I didn’t cast her, but I got very close to it,” Hooper, 47, told Vulture. He explained that because of that audition, he thought of the “You Need to Calm Down” singer, 30, immediately for Cats.
“Ultimately, I couldn’t quite believe Taylor Swift was a girl people would overlook,” Hooper said. “So it didn’t quite feel right for her for the most flattering reason.”
Éponine was ultimately played by British actress Samantha Barks, and the film would go on to win three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway.
When he began working on Cats, Swift was at the top of Hooper’s picks. In fact, when Hooper pitched Swift on the idea for his latest Broadway adaptation, the Grammy winner “loved it,” the director said. She’d go on to sign up to play Bombalurina.
“But I knew she was curious to work on a musical,” Hooper continued. “When [Cats] came up, I wrote to her and just said, ‘Would you like to meet? Would you like to see the world I’m creating?’ And I did a presentation. Eve Stewart had these wonderful paintings she did of the world. I had a ten-second clip of a dancer with fur, lifelike. That was my pitch. She loved it and was very gracious and really supportive from then on.”
Swift even ended up playing an expanded version of the role, as Bombaurina was portrayed by two different actresses in the Broadway production, but Swift was the sole actress for the cat in the movie.
Hooper added that after his pitch to Swift, “I had no idea she’d end up getting involved in writing the new song and getting involved as a lyricist.”
Cats is now playing.