This service cat has a big job: the Apocalypse

Trainer Jo Vaughan had about 12 weeks to prepare the cats. Much of it was spent getting them used to being carried and walking on a leash. “If there are two things cats don’t like,” Vaughan said, “it’s being on a harness and leash, and it’s being carried.”

The cats weren’t the only ones who had to adjust to something they didn’t like: When filming began, Nyong’o, who won an Oscar in 2014 for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” was afraid of the creatures. Sarnoski said she spent about an hour each day before filming “cat time” getting to know Schnitzel and Nico.

But regardless of their training, which included practicing water scenes in a pool designed for dogs, the cats decided what they wanted to do and what they didn’t. While filming a scene set in a flooded subway station in a water tank, Sarnoski said, one of the cats jumped out of his makeshift raft. “Joe Quinn, I think, was the one who swam up to the cat and said, ‘We’re going to get you out,'” he said. Another challenge was capturing a cat while the camera was moving. “If you’re following the cat with a Steadicam,” Sarnoski said, “the cat is always going to say, ‘What’s that thing behind me?'”

Frodo remains catlike throughout the film, occasionally getting distracted and wandering off. But he represents the human characters’ desire to protect each other. As a service cat, he offers comfort to Sam—and to the audience. It’s easy to see why Nyong’o eventually became a cat person, cuddling her furry co-stars.

When filming was over and Nyong’o had to say goodbye to Schnitzel and Nico, she adopted a cat, who is orange and named Yoyo. “Everyone should have a cat,” Sarnoski said. He eventually got one too.

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