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Day One’ Used Two Real Kitties and Not CGI

SPOILER WARNING: This story discusses plot points from “A Quiet Place: Day One,” now playing in theaters.

Audiences watching “A Quiet Place: Day One” might find themselves rooting for an unlikely hero: Frodo the cat.

That’s because director Michael Sarnoski wanted the black and white kitty to feel like a real character. “We managed to get through the whole movie without creating a CG cat, which was a big victory for us,” he declares, proudly. Instead, Frodo is played by two cats, Schnitzel and Nico.

“Day One,” the third outing of John Krasinski’s hit horror franchise takes viewers back to the day faceless alien beasts invaded New York City and subsequently the rest of the world. These creatures, known as Death Angels, have extremely sensitive hearing and attack at the slightest sound.

Frodo belongs to Samira (Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o) and is a service animal, who at first is kept on a leash. He accompanies Samira on her trip to New York to visit the theater, but things go disastrously wrong when the city comes under attack. Samira’s goal is to survive, with Frodo in tow.

In an interview with Variety, Sarnoski explained why Frodo was chosen to be Samira’s furry companion. “A cat is one of the only things that you might be able to manage maybe a bunny rabbit, but a dog would not do very well,” he says.

Joseph Quinn (Eric) and Lupita Nyong’o (Samira) go on the run with Frodo in tow.
Gareth Gatrell

Along the way, Samira meets Eric (Joseph Quinn) and while that duo is figuring out how to survive, Frodo tends to wander off — as cats do — which induces edge-of-your-seat anxiety for the audience as the cat narrowly escapes close encounters.

Before the attack, Frodo can be heard making meow sounds, but, remarkably, things change once he figures out what’s happening. He doesn’t scream for food at 4 a.m. He doesn’t make a sound.

While researching for the film, Sarnoski says he learned that meowing is part of natural cat behavior, but “a lot of it is put on as a way of communicating with humans. So, I thought it’d be interesting in the apocalypse, that if there weren’t really people around, there’s not as much of a need for a cat to meow.”

Plus, because Frodo is trained as a service animal, he explains, “I figured he was very obedient. If Sam said, ‘Be quiet,’ he would. … Cats can be extremely quiet. They’re predators, they can stop and move very silently, and I figured, game recognizes game. So when a cat saw these creatures operating, they’re like, ‘I get you, I’m going to just kind of keep it down.”

Schnitzel and Nico were well-behaved on set, too, the filmmaker adds: “These two cats got along and would hang out all day.”

Lupita Nyong’o as Samira in “A Quiet Place: Day One.”
Gareth Gatrell/Paramount Pictures

The only hiccup was that Nyong’o had a lifelong fear of cats. To prepare for Samira and Frodo’s close relationship, on the role, she went through extensive exposure therapy.

“Paramount was kind enough to hire a cat trainer to meet me before I got to the production and helped me get over my fear, just through exposure and asking questions, [like] ‘Why is that cat rubbing himself on that furniture like that?’” she said. “Very slowly, I was able to grow with courage and touch them and before long, I could hold them.”

By the end of production, Nyong’o had fallen so in love with her co-stars that she got a cat of her own, Yoyo.

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