What breed is Filch cat?
Mrs. Norris, the cat in «Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone»
While the Disney films have often featured feline actors, recently we have seen more pedigreed cats being featured on the silver screen in a wide range of films. a silver Persian in Stuart Little, a Sphynx in Austin Powers, an entire cast of recognizable breeds in «Cats and Dogs». And most recently, a Maine Coon was used to portray the cat belonging to Filch in the blockbuster movie, «Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone».
Filch is the Hogwarts Castle’s caretaker.
He’s a cantankerous, nasty man who hates students with a passion. and he has a pet cat called Mrs. Norris with whom he has an almost psychic connection.
Mrs. Norris wanders the corridors of the castle and if she spots anyone putting a toe out of line, she somehow lets Filch know and he is there within minutes.
In the movie, the part of Mrs. Norris the cat is actually played by three Maine Coons.
The Mrs. Norris you see most often wandering the corridors of Hogwarts is a Maine Coon spay named called Pebbles.
The Casting Call
This is the story of how Pebbles was chosen to play the part of Mrs. Norris in the Harry Potter . and became a Maine Coon Superstar in the process!
Pebbles was a breeding queen owned by Dawn Talman of Kittycoonz cattery in southern England.
Following two caesarians, Pebbles was spayed.
Pebbles loved having babies and was a wonderful mother. She seemed to become bored however after being spayed and entertained herself by smacking around her kitty roommates. Bad kitty!
The decision was made for everyone’s peace of mind to place Pebbles in a new home.
That’s when fate stepped in and made Pebbles a star!
Dawn received a telephone call from the head trainer for Birds and Animals Unlimited, a company providing animals to the movies. Warner Brothers were casting Harry Potter and were looking for a Maine Coon to play the part of Mrs. Norris.
Birds and Animals Unlimited is owned by Gary Gero, one of the world’s leading experts in animal training, and they calling many breeders throughout the United Kingdom to find the perfect cat who could play Mrs. Norris.
A Star Is Born
When Dawn was contacted, she mentioned Pebbles and it wasn’t long before Gary himself came to see her personally. Pebbles showed herself off very well and Gary said she was just what they were looking for.
The company had already found one Maine Coon from London for the part but they wanted two other cats which looked similar to the one they already had.
The third Maine Coon came from the North of England, so there were in fact two males and one female playing the same part of Mrs. Norris.
Dawn and Pebbles’ breeder, Catherine, went to see Pebbles’ new home and decided that she would be very happy there and she would have an active life which she needed.
Before filming started on the movie, like all good starlets, Pebbles was enrolled in acting school. The most important thing she needed to learn was how to «Hit Her Mark». how to walk across the stage or set and stop at a specific spot.
Hitting Her Mark
Pebbles was an excellent student.
Pebbles comes out of her carrier, her trainer tells her to find her mark, a small disk on the ground.
The Perfect Performance
On cue, Pebbles performs her task and receives a tasty treat as a reward.
Take Two, Scene One
Pebbles is asked to find her mark again — this time it is next to Allison.
Pebbles is rewarded by a kind stroke on her head.
The two male Maine Coons responded to more complex training than Pebbles, so they had the harder parts to play.
Pebbles’ specialty became striding up and down the long corridors of Hogwarts school checking on the students.
They are now working the second film in the Harry Potter series. The Hollywood gossip newspapers report Pebbles is asking for a private dressing room with a personal masseuse. I think she deserves it! 😉
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Photo’s by Bob Fox E-mail rofox@LineOne.net
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“Orangey” is the New “Yeller”
In Homeward Bound (1993), a remake of the 1955 live-action animal touchstone The Incredible Journey, two dogs and a cat travel 250 miles to get home. The dogs perform their tricks while the cat’s contribution is Attitude; in fact, the arduous road trip only happens because the note to resolve the plot is “accidentally” set afire by “Sassy,” the cat.
Cats, as anyone fortunate enough to live with a cat knows all too plainly, are just not into being tamed…much less trained. Several to many cats most often share playing a role on screen as the Olson twins did on TV’s Full House. The movie cat is usually played by a series of lookalike cats, each trained for one specific trick, a host of back-up cats, mechanical animatronic cats, “stuffies,” (background and/or stunt figures), and more recently computer generated images (CGI) in some combination.
“Cat,” Holly Golightly’s cat in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was played by the actor cat legend, Orangey. The ginger cat made his debut as title character Rhubarb (1951) who inherits a baseball team. Orangey won the Picture Animal Top Star of the Year (PATSY Awards) for both performances. He was highly in demand in Hollywood the decade between, including his role in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and was also a series regular as “Minerva” in long-running 1950s TV sitcom Our Miss Brooks. A studio executive labeled the fabled Orangey the meanest cat in the world.
Cats are irresistible, and cat actors will continue to dominate their movies in tasteful cameos and featured roles. In the Bond franchise, Polish-born supervillain Blofeld has his blue-eyed-white Persian (neither the cat character nor the actor cat is ever named) unforgettably lounging on his lap. Blofeld-inspired parody gave us another movie pair, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) and his hairless lap cat, “Mr. Bigglesworth” (SGC Belfry Ted Nude-Gent) in the Austin Powers movies.
As movie technology evolves, a leading cat can be made better to perform—as the cat actor becomes more optics than performance. We expect that—on screen as in life, cats are not inclined to be service animals—with one brilliant exception: The cat is central to Black Magic. The Harry Potter series features cats, Kneazels, and their half-breed progeny. Hogwarts School caretaker Argus Filch’s cat, “Mrs. Norris.” is all cat as played by Pebbles and two other Maine Coons who essay the role. As the mesmerizing ally to the movie witch, cats exude particular glamor, intrigue, and sensuality. No one wants to see a spellbinding movie-witch served by a slobbering St Bernard. Black cat “Susie” unexpectedly appears at politician Wally Wooley’s front door when he arrives home one night in Rene Clair’s black-and-white witchcraft comedy, I Married A Witch (1942). Susie pays no attention to Wally’s admonition that she is not welcome and tears into the house to lead Wally to sultry witch Jennifer, (Veronica Lake) also uninvited, already awaiting them sitting in Wally’s arm chair.
Since it is Halloween, let’s look at the movie’s most mesmerizing familiar. Siamese “Pyewacket” in Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is named for the familiar spirit of a witch detected by the «witch finder general» Matthew Hopkins in 1644. The purring of witch Kim Novak’s beautiful familiar in their duet rendition of George Duning’s theme as well as their hypnotic close-up is more than enough to cast the love spell that both sets the story moving and runs it off track by Christmas.
OK…movies have promoted dogs as the animal hero since “Dick the Detective Dog” in the silent era. Of course, “Buck” in The Call of the Wild, “Rin Tin Tin,” “Old Yeller,” and the lovely “Lassie” have graced the screen in classic movies, remakes, and television series spin-offs. If child-protagonist Jeff played hooky and got himself entombed in the old deserted mine just outside town in the first season of “Lassie” and waited to be saved by his cat, he would surely learn his lesson the hard way. But make no mistake, “Jinxy,” “Crookshanks,” “Tonto,” “Buttercup,” internet sensation “Lil Bub,” “General Price,” and all those other irresistible movie cats could summon help—if they wanted to. These beautiful feline creatures are obviously intelligent…brilliant as hell, actually. So brilliant, that Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) in Meet the Parents explains, “A dog is very easy to break. But cats make you work for their affection. They don’t sell out the way dogs do.” And work for their affection, we do. No tricks…no problem, because we all know every cat is all treat. Leonardo da Vinci said it best, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”