Pandora, the cat who has an untimely onscreen death in Oscar favorite “The Shape of Water,” was played by Astro, who got the part based on her special talent: Hissing!
Of the four cats who play Giles (Richard Jenkins)’s cats in the film, Jordan Worrell of Toronto Animal Wranglers told Moviepaws two belong to her — Astro and an orange-and-white cat named Fox . Two others, Emmett and Sugar, belong to other trainers.
Fox first landed the part of the ill-fated Pandora, but director Guillermo del Toro wasn’t pleased when Fox refused to hiss on cue, Worrell said. She recalled the frustrated director told her, “Don’t come back until you have a hissing cat!”
Enter Astro. “She’s social and friendly, but when called for, she can hiss,” shared Worrell. Del Toro was “blown away” by her hiss, which was a reaction to introducing another cat on set that she didn’t know.
“That was the signature hiss in the movie,” said Worrell of Astro’s big moment.
And, of course, a CGI cat was used for the scene where the monster eats Pandora. (See some before-and-after CGI images here.)
Although Astro’s role in the movie is, alas, brief, she’s also the Iams Kitty of the Year. A new commercial line called “Adulting” will launch this spring. “She’s beautiful, but she’s your typical longhair cat, very pretty. She works well on set and responds to cues. She’s very doglike and can do a sit, a lie-down and a come,” said Worrell.
Astro also starred in an indie film called “Lost Cat.” “She probably has one or two big roles,” noted Worrell, if a cat becomes very strongly identified with one role or one brand, something that’s referred to as “the Daniel Radcliffe effect.”
Worrell also shared an anecdote from “The Shape of Water” set. Far from scaring the cats in his monster suit, actor Doug Jones had them eating out of his hand. Or rather, chewing on his finger tips. “Fox kept chewing on the finger tips since he had these long prosthetic fingers with something like KY gel on them. They only had flavored gel, so all the cats were all over him.”