‘Cat Person’ director Susanna Fogel talks crafting the complex dating thriller

When Susanna Fogel read The New Yorker short story Cat Person after it took the internet by storm in 2017, she knew it would be adapted into a film one day. She just had no idea she would be the person tasked to direct it.

Cat Person, now playing in limited release and expanding to more theaters Friday, explores the brief relationship between 20-year-old college student Margot and Robert, a man she meets while working at a movie theater.

Fogel told ABC Audio that when she first became attached to the film, she solicited bad date, Cat Person-esque stories from everybody that she had in her contacts.

“I set up an email account,” Fogel continued. “And I just asked people to send anonymously or, you know, that I would disguise their identity, stories that resonated with this.”

She then had the film’s stars, Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun, read all of the submitted stories as part of their preparation. This helped them craft the more cringe-inducing scenes, including the couple’s first night together.

“It was a challenge, like, how graphic and explicit can I make this sex scene with no nudity in it?” Fogel said. “And I think-slash-hope that I’ve succeeded in making a wildly uncomfortable, explicitly uncomfortable scene that doesn’t exploit anybody in the process. But I took that really seriously.”

Another thing Fogel took seriously? Humanizing both of the main characters.

“It’s my hope that men and women can watch the movie and see both sides, even if they are still completely identifying with Margot and think Robert is toxic or not,” Fogel said. “I want people to see themselves potentially in both of the roles in different moments of their lives.” 

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