Her name was Angel despite playing her hellacious self in writer/director Nicholas Tana’s soon to be released feature film based on his hit webseries Hell’s Kitty, a comedy-horror web series about a Hollywood writer and his possessed cat. Hell’s Kitty is based on Tana’s real life experiences dealing with his lovable but unruly cat. The series has a devoted following of ardent cat lovers and horror fans alike. Tana attributes the series success mostly to his magnetic star. “It’s not so bad when you have a star like Angel in your show.”
What was the impetus for creating Hell’s Kitty?
I grew up in Connecticut, lived in Arizona and Spain, and eventually made my way to Los Angeles, to pursue my love for entertainment, TV, and film. While I was in college I worked for PBS as a production assistant. My first job out of college was working as a director for ESPN. And then I started my own business doing commercials and promos while looking at ways to do my own shows. I watched how web shows were rapidly becoming the new thing and how entertainment had evolved into new media and realized that was a medium I needed to get involved with. At the same time, as a writer, I like to write about what I know. Well, I had my cat and I had my camera. I found when I first moved to Los Angeles six or seven years ago that I had a hard time dating women in Los Angeles with such a possessive but beautiful cat named Angel. The co-producer of the show was actually my roommate at the time and she would watch women come and go because of my cat. She finally said to me one day, “This is a show; we got a cat, a camera, and an apartment. Let’s just shoot this.” That’s how Hell’s Kitty was born.
Tell us about your vision to help Nonprofits with Hell’s Kitty
On/off, my main intentions for Hell’s Kitty was always to help FixNation and other non-profits. I wanted to tie in my love for cats and animals, all animals, but I really love cats; showing my capabilities in new media all in one effort really helps me to be inspired. It’s challenging to do something when you’re not getting paid, especially when you’re paying out of pocket to get it done. But I want to promote these non-profits and perhaps in the near future raise more money for them through merchandising opportunities. So that’s my dream: one day to build some cathouses for community cats from making a lot of money from Hell’s Kitty.
How did Angel’s death impact you?
It was crazy when she passed away a year ago. That night the biggest rain happened. It was kind of amazing. The coincidence was almost supernatural. But nothing surprises me when it comes to Angel. Angel was ten years old when she died. We think her death was related to IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and lymphoma. Oddly, it started to happen right after we stopped shooting with her. At first we thought she was being a prima donna; she wasn’t in the movies any more and she was upset that she wasn’t getting the attention from everyone. But then we realized she was really sick, that there was something really going on and that there’s nothing we could do to stop it. She lived another eight months and then it became too much. It was definitely one of the most challenging things that I have personally dealt with. I did become aware of IBD. I definitely want to use the show to bring awareness to this issue as well. I don’t know why it’s so prevalent and why it leads to lymphoma. It’s a serious condition that’s been around. Not sure why we are hearing more about it now and what the cause is, whether it’s the food or something else, but IBD affects a lot of cats, especially female cats. It’s something new for me. I learned a lot of things painfully from going through it with Angel. I hope to raise awareness about IBD in cats and to help others with this.
Do you have any plans to cast a new feline star?
The movie is almost completed. It will be coming out in March. It will get a lot of attention. I see the movie launching the series. In which case we might have to find a replacement for Angel at some point. I don’t know if it’s possible.
What can fans expect from the movie?
The movie has some supernatural twists. It becomes the Hellboy of cats. It’s really fun. It’s a really fun character. It’s definitely sci-fi all the way. There’s a really great relationship between Nick and his cat.
How was Angel Possessive of you?
It varied on the woman but pretty much every woman. It was like trying to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone. They would come up and they would meet the cat. Sometimes she would literally sniff, walk up to them, and growl at them. Sometimes she would wait and do her own thing and we’d sit on the couch talking and Angel would walk right in between us and hiss. Sometimes Angel would sit on my lap and if the girl got too close she would scratch her and try and attack her. Sometimes she would poop in their shoes. She would do anything in her power to express her disdain for whatever woman that came into the apartment. Sometimes it was scary for them. Sometimes it was comical.
What was Angel like on set?
Angel didn’t like anyone. Eventually she got comfortable with the co- producer. She got fairly close to Angel and Angel was able to touch her. There was another girl, a Production Assistant, that she was tolerant of but that pretty much took eight months. It was ridiculous. We’d be on set, she pretty much scratched all the actors. All the actors who were doing the series had to sign a waiver so they knew what they were getting into. We had to get special gloves for Bill Oberst when he did the Exorcism scene. Those gloves were destroyed to the point that the wardrobe person could not return them. We had to pay for them, they were so torn up. It’s crazy, the actors looked at me like, “this is real.” I would say, “Go with it”. And then she scratched Lee Meriwether, Catwoman on set. Can you believe it? Lee Meriwether acted through it. She even bled on my collector’s Catwoman comic to the extent that I made her sign it and say it on video so we can auction it off and make some money for FixNation. Literally, Lee Meriwether, Catwoman bled on my Catwoman comic in the episode. What a trooper. To her credit she acted right through it. She was amazing.
How did you find Angel?
I was living in Arizona at the time. I was working on my house that I bought out there and I was staying at my dad’s house. He was working out of state. This cat kept coming around. There were a bunch of feral cats that would dig into the garbage. I would leave food out for them but I couldn’t get close to them. They were hissing and would back away like an army but there was one cat that was sticking around a little longer than the other ones. And eventually that cat ended up on my front porch. My girlfriend at the time looked at her and was like, “I think she’s pregnant.” I was moving into my new house in three days, I fed the cat and gave her water. She started taking to me, coming in and out of the house. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I took her to the vet. We named that cat Hope. The craziest thing happened the day Angel was born. Right before Angel was born I was at the bank. Anxious not to miss her birth I rushed out of the bank and apparently forgot my bank card. I was videotaping everything. I was really into it. I later called the bank about my card. They told me that they couldn’t talk that they were getting robbed. True story, the bank was robbed the day Angel was born. I should have taken it as an omen, but she was an angel. I got out of there because I was in a hurry to get back for her and just missed the robbery. She could have saved my life. It was really fascinating. In fact, four years later I was telling a bank teller the story at a different bank in the same city in Tempe, Arizona. The teller looked at me in shock, “I was the teller.” I was like “Are you kidding me?” It was verifiable that the bank was robbed the day Angel was born.
Even though this beloved hellion of a cat passed away she will always be immortalized as one of the most infamous cats to scratch herself to fame across the silver screen. She will also be deeply missed by Tana, her true partner in crime. “She was my muse. She would sit on my lap when I was writing. Yeah, the whole story was her. None of this would have happened without her. She inspired the movie. We are dedicating the film to her.”
Tana’s sorrow is palpable despite his upbeat stoicism. Angel will not only be missed by her loving guardian but by all of us who tuned in to admire her in all of her terrifying, unbridled glory.
Angel came into the world bringing with her chaos and grace and left it in a torrential downpour of tears. She is truly Hell’s Kitty.
Check out HELL’S KITTY (the web-series)
Buy HELL’S KITTY Graphic Novel (on Amazon) Percentage of proceeds go to FixNation. http://tinyurl.com/h8xb72x
Buy HELL’s KITTY (comic book) http://tinyurl.com/jq7232z
Stay tuned for Hell’s Kitty (the movie). TBA