All the promotion for St. Vincent has centered around Bill Murray. It makes sense: He’s the star of the movie; and he’s Bill Murray, the internet’s favorite uncle. However, those who’ve seen St. Vincent know Murray isn’t the breakout. And, no, it’s not the little kid. It’s the cat. Murray’s character Vincent has a cat named Felix, and it’s the best cat, full stop. He’s just a wonderful, fluffy, lush Persian with a face so grumpy, it makes Bill Murray at the beginning of Groundhog Day look like Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day. Vulture has exclusive high-definition screenshots of the cat and an interview with Steve McAuliff, the man tasked with the surely wonderful job of training this angel with fur.
Can you tell me a little bit about the cat?
There are two cats. They’re doubles of each other. They’re Persians named Teddy and Jagger. Approximate ages between 3 and 5. They actually live in Pennsylvania. Cats are picked based on personality because they have to be able to tolerate a large group of people on the set and still perform.
What else have they been in?
The Big C with Laura Linney. A couple commercials. And obviously St. Vincent.
So, the cat or the cats, there’s a grumpy look to them. Was it intentional with casting?
Well, production picks the look. We don’t. We just make sure they perform, obviously. If you describe the look as “grumpy,” I would agree with that. I would agree with that description, however, their personalities are not grumpy.
What is their demeanor?
They’re very outgoing. Love people. Enjoy being on the set, which is another thing that, obviously, we strive for.
What type of training went into this role?
Well, it’s a continuous training process. As they grow up, we do what’s called clicker training with them, which means if they hear the clicker, they come. They learn to sit, they learn to stay, they learn to lie down, and they learn to come from all those positions. These guys are excellent jumpers, so on The Big C, they had to run across the room and jump out the window, and then Laura Linney goes and chases [them].
How was Bill Murray with the cat?
He was excellent. He likes cats.
I read that he, Naomi Watts, and the director were all allergic. Is that true?
That is true, so we kept them extremely well-groomed. We literally brushed them continuously throughout the day so that any dander was kept at a minimum.
Do either of the cats have certain foods they particularly like?
They pretty much will take any kind of treat if it revolves around chicken, liver, that kind of a thing. They like meat treats. [Ed.note: Who doesn’t!?]