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‘Cat Person’ Star Nicholas Braun on Balancing His Indie Film Career with the ‘Succession’ Grind

Braun discussed "Cat Person" with director Susanna Fogel and co-star Emilia Jones in the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox.

Nicholas Braun, Susanna Fogel, and Emilia Jones at the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox.

From the minute “Cat Person” was published in the New Yorker in 2017, it seemed destined to become a movie. Kristen Roupenian’s sprawling short story about a romantic misunderstanding that takes a dark turn — and doubles as a kind of Rorschach test for #MeToo era — went viral almost immediately, no small feat in a world where attention spans aren’t exactly getting longer.

Fast forward six years, and “Cat Person” is now one of the buzziest films at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Director Susanna Fogel and her stars Nicholas Braun and Emilia Jones stopped by the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox, to explain how they brought the viral concept to the big screen.

“I read the story that week, when everyone was reading and talking about the story,” Fogel said. “And my first thought, being a person in the film industry, was: ‘Somebody’s gonna option this and make a movie. Who’s that person gonna be?’ It didn’t occur to me that it might be me.”

Fogel quickly optioned the story and began working on a film, using the natural similarities between the premise and the rom-com genre to subvert familiar tropes about dating and relationships. It seems the viral success of the New Yorker story made it relatively easy for her to get Braun and Jones to sign on.

“It’s fascinating,” Braun said of the New Yorker story. “It’s one of the best scripts I ever read. I was just struck by [the story], and luckily she hired me.”

After getting a taste of the indie film star life at Sundance, was it hard for Braum to go back to working on “Succession”? The actor explained that, while he’s excited to do more films like “Cat Person” in the future, working on the fourth season of the Jesse Armstrong-created HBO series remains creatively invigorating.

“We’ve been doing it for more than six years, so it has been a long job. But it’s the best job I ever had in my career — until ‘Cat Person,’ Braun said with a laugh. “The show changed my life, I love it. I was filming yesterday, we’re deep into the fourth season, I was so energized and inspired by what I’m still doing. I love the writing, I love the actors. They’ve taken Greg to amazing directions, and this season is a really nice journey for Greg. But something like [‘Cat Person’], this is an amazing thing to get to make. So I hope other good opportunities come my way. But I’ll do it as long as Jesse wants us to.” 

“Cat Person” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution. 

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