The cute kitten in the movie Keanu, is actually not just one but seven kittens trained to do stunts.
Keanu centers around the story of Keanu, a kitten whose kidnapping forces Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to do whatever it takes to rescue it from a drug dealer. So how did the adorable kitten get cast? From THR:
His name is Nacho. And it’s Jeffe. And also Squibword. As it turns out, seven different but very similar-looking kittens were used to shoot Keanu. “Cuteness was definitely the biggest priority,” says director Peter Atencio, who held a kitten audition in New Orleans, deciding between two types: brown tabbies and black-and-white tuxedo kittens.
The filmmakers ended up selecting the tabby breed because they are extremely popular and found everywhere and change on screen. In addition, they are “extremely photogenic and easy to work with,” says Atencio.
While dogs are easily trained on set, cats are a little more difficult to handle and train.
Cats are not natural movie actors; they don’t like being directed. “Dogs want to please their masters,” says Larry Payne of Birds and Animals Unlimited, who, with colleague April Mackin, trained all the kittens inKeanu. “Cats want to please themselves.”
Instead of using CGI cats, the movie “hired” a bunch of shelter kittens and spent weeks teaching them how to do stunts:
After weeks of conditioning — using treats as rewards and “a lot of repetition,” says Payne — the trainers were able to coax the kittens into performing many of the stunts without any CGI help at all, including a scene in which Keanu sprints through a gunfight (the cats were taught to dodge exploding squibs).
And just make sure everything went okay, a representative from the American Humane Association was on set to ensure the kittens were safe. The now famous have all been adopted.
Via The Hollywood Reporter