She’s a Cool Cat

TFK chats with Salma Hayek about her role in the 3-D animated Puss in Boots

Oct 28, 2011 | By Vickie An
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION LLC

Salma Hayek is the cat’s meow! The actress voices a clever feline thief named Kitty Softpaws in the animated Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots, in theaters and IMAX October 28. The 3-D tale follows the famous swashbuckling Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) on his early escapades, before he joins up with the grumpy green ogre.

The fate of the world lies in Puss’s paws. Two nasty outlaws, Jack and Jill, have learned of an ancient treasure that grants unlimited power and riches, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Now, it’s up to the furry Latin hero and his sidekicks—his mischievous egg pal Humpty Alexander Dumpty and his rival/crush Kitty—to find the treasure before it’s too late.

TFK spoke to Hayek about lending her voice to a crafty cartoon cat burglar. Read on to find out what the Mexican-born actress enjoyed most about being in the recording studio, and what her opinions are on Kitty’s sleek style.

TFK:

Were you a fan of the Shrek films before this?

SALMA HAYEK:

Absolutely. Who’s not? Do you know anybody who doesn’t love those movies? They are just genius. But Puss in Boots really stands on its own. You would never know it’s a spin-off. It looks different, it has a different feel, and it has a different style. It’s just as funny as the Shrek movies, but with a little bit more action and adventure.

TFK:

What was it about the Kitty Softpaws character that won you over?

HAYEK:

She’s good at what she does, and she’s strong and confident and fearless… and funny! I can go on forever.

Actress Salma Hayek lends her voice to clever cat burglar Kitty Softpaws. Kitty proves to be quite a match for Puss in Boots.
MATHIEU YOUNG—DREAMWORKS ANIMATION LLC
Actress Salma Hayek lends her voice to clever cat burglar Kitty Softpaws. Kitty proves to be quite a match for Puss in Boots.

TFK:

What did you do to help bring out your inner feline for the role?

HAYEK:

[Laughs] Well, I have a cat. Although, she’s way out-numbered by the dogs. I have one cat, 10 dogs, four alpacas, four parrots, five horses, four ducks and 20 chickens. Most of them are rescue animals. So, my cat—her name is Gypsy—is definitely not in the majority. But I adore her. She’s too smart for the dogs. Also, my sister-in-law in France has three cats, and I spend a lot of time with them. I’ve been around cats my whole life, so I’ve been doing a lifetime of research.

TFK:

Did you put some of your own personality into the character?

HAYEK:

I think you can’t help it, you know? The character does have your voice, but it’s a lot more than just that. There is a camera filming you when you’re in the recording booth, and they take a lot of your real mannerisms and put them in the film. The director also gave us a lot of freedom and encouraged us to improvise. So it’s very much my version of the cat.

TFK:

This was the first time you’ve done voice work for an animated film. What did you enjoy most about it?

HAYEK:

That I didn’t have to get my hair and makeup done, and that I didn’t have to do wardrobe when I showed up for work! I liked having the freedom to do as many takes as I wanted. The directors, the writers, the producers and Antonio were all amazingly fun to work with. It was very different and very freeing. I really liked it, and I hope I get to do more of it.

TFK:

Did you get to do any recording sessions with Antonio Banderas?

HAYEK:

Usually, you don’t get to record with the other actors when you do an animated movie. In this particular case, because we are such good friends, we did have the opportunity to record together. That was amazing. When I would improvise, he would respond to my improvisation, and then, I would respond to his response. A lot of what we came up with in that session ended up in the movie.

TFK:

Does your daughter, Valentina, recognize your voice in the movie?

HAYEK:

Yes, she does. We went to watch a different movie, and they were showing the previews. The trailer came on for Puss in Boots, and I didn’t know how to explain it to her that I was the voice of Kitty. I didn’t want to burst her bubble because she loves these characters. I got so nervous. All of a sudden, she hears Kitty talk, and she goes, “Mommy, that cat sounds just like you!” I was caught off guard with that one.

Outlaws Jack and Jill (from right, voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) are determined to find the treasure before Puss and his merry band do.
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION LLC
Puss goes up against a pair of gruff outlaws named Jack and Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), who are determined to get to the treasure first.

TFK:

Puss and Kitty have a dance fight in the movie. Who do you think would win in a dance fight between you and Antonio?

HAYEK:

Well, I will only tell you this answer because he’s not here. I think he would definitely win. He’s had a lot more training than me. But if he were here, I’d be like, “No way! It’s me!”

TFK:

Puss is not the only one in boots. Kitty wears a pair of boots too—

HAYEK:

I know, but I didn’t get a hat! I was so upset. Valentina pointed it out at me. She said, “Mommy, how come you don’t get a hat?” I said, “That’s right!” There was a shortage in the hat department, I guess.

TFK:

What kind of hat would you have wanted Kitty to wear?

HAYEK:

Something cool and stylish—but no feathers.

TFK:

As someone who is known for having a great sense of fashion, do you approve of Kitty’s boots?

HAYEK:

Yeah, they’re pretty cool. She’s a little bit of a tomboy, you know?

TFK:

Which Puss in Boots character do you have the biggest soft spot for?

HAYEK:

Well, definitely not the egg. And definitely not Jack and Jill. They’re horrible. So, I would have to say Puss in Boots. But Kitty doesn’t like him right away. It was not love at first sight. She’s used to working alone.