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THE CAT IN THE HAT

Cat Casting
"I honestly would say I wanted to play the Cat my whole life,” says Mike Myers. The star and creator of a number of previous indelible comic creations was drawn to the project by the book read the world over. "That book, Slaughterhouse Five and Fahrenheit 451 are my favorite books and all things considered, I still like The Cat in the Hat best. He's such a great character—you think he's an anarchist at the beginning and then you realize he's actually a teacher.” 

"The Cat is an icon in American 20th Century life and it takes the genius Mike possesses to inhabit that role in an honest way that I truly think Dr. Seuss would have approved of,” says Grazer. "Mike brings irreverence to the Cat, which comes from his brilliance in understanding how pop culture works, so the movie is not just a benign children's tale. I suspect it's probably what Geisel would have done if he had written the book today, given how irreverent he was.” 

Like Grazer, Myers was clear on his priorities to the book: "More than anything, I wanted to make sure we honor the book. What I love about it is the main image—the cat balancing on a ball, with a rake and a cake, the fish, an umbrella and all that stuff— and that's what the whole message is: getting everything in balance.” 

Myers' excellence at playing a myriad of characters within a given storyline became one of the points of expansion for the Seuss story. Welch observes, "Mike's talent at characterization is legendary—it's part of what skyrocketed him to stardom. So what was interesting for us was to take the main character of the Cat and use him not only as the fulcrum of the story, upon which everything turns, but also branch varying characters off from the Cat, like colors from a prism.” 

In the process, the Cat inhabits some vibrant cameos—most bearing a slight resemblance to the title character and clothed in some variation of the signature black, red and white. The actor counts off, "I get to play Carmen Miranda, a bull fighter, a civil protestor, a crazy infomercial chef and his ridiculous sidekick—the guy in the bad sweater who asks all the obvious questions—and several others.” 

Most of the characters that appear—in addition to ratcheting up the on-screen fun quotient—serve to point the hapless Conrad and Sally along the way to arriving at (warning: psycho-babble word up ahead) self-actualization. 

On why the Cat becomes these different characters, Myers continues, "In traditional mythology, a catalyst character that comes along to wreak havoc on the hero— or, in this case, two little heroes—will often change his shape in order to confuse or disorient the hero into crossing the threshold from the known world into the unknown. That is the long answer. The short answer is it was fun to wear different costumes.” 

All this mayhem translates into controlled on-screen chaos—but chaos with intent, since the heart of the lesson Conrad and Sally learn is one their mother has been reiterating until she is (practically and proverbially) blue in the face. 

Myers observes, "Somebody once said that comedians like to be the architects of their own embarrassment. Similarly with the Cat, there's a lot of anarchy going on, but ultimately, you realize that he was the architect of the anarchy and it has had a purpose— to restore this family.” 

The actor draws a further parallel to the author and says, "The Cat is a necessary anarchist, just as artists take on the role of anarchists, to shake people out of their complacency and to get them to see things differently. Dr. Seuss is one of those artists and it's reflected in his characters, all wonderfully quirky and cool at the same time.” 

While creating a look for a film was an ability its director had previously fully demonstrated, Welch knew that as a first time director on such an enormous and complex und

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