Bette Midler: the woman behind Kitty Galore
Staff Report Published: 00:00 September 14, 2010
What was the best quality about the cat you voiced, and are you a cat or dog person?
I play Kitty Galore. Kitty Galore is an Egyptian Sphinx Cat. She’s hairless, except for a little hair on her tail, and she’s very cranky because she has been rejected by her beloved human family and she’s determined to rule the world. I came in for a number of sessions and it was really curious because when I first started it was just a sketch and as the time went on, the backgrounds and the other characters got more and more filled in, that was very, very exciting to watch. I’d never experienced that before.
Do you have a pet in real life?
Oh, in real life, my pet passed. I’m a non-pet person at this point.
Is doing voice work for this film and recording songs similar in any way in that you’re trying to get across an emotion through your voice? And, secondly, did you channel anybody to play evil or did that come naturally?
No. Pardon me? Did I channel anyone or am I just plain evil? [Laughs] I’m just plain evil. It’s true, and now you know the real me. [Laughs] There are some parts of it that are quite musical. Timing is very important in this kind of work because the phrasing works with the mouth of the character. Once the mouth of the character is moving, you have to phrase along with the character that’s drawn and that is musical. And if you listen to that, you can hear where the beats are skipped and where you drop a beat or where you rush and catch up a little bit. And I will say that the fact that I’ve sung for a long time has really helped a lot with that. I don’t think it helped the character, but it helped me get through the sessions. [Laughs]
If anything happened to your fabulous hair in real life would you also go maniacal and try to destroy the world? [Laughs]
No. [Laughs] No, never. Something happens to my hair in real life every day and I’m normal. A long time ago when I first worked in the theatre, I was in Fiddler on the Roof. I was just a kid. I think I was 19 or 20 or something like that. And one of the girls who was in Fiddler was a Puerto Rican girl and she was famous and the reason she was famous was because the opening night she had done something to her hair. She had tried to straighten her hair or something and her hair fell out, literally, and she didn’t even blink. She went out. She got a piece. She slapped it on. And she gave the performance of her life and she went on and became a really famous opera singer. And I never forgot that. I thought, “Wow, check that out.” She didn’t even bother. She didn’t waste any time and from that time on I never thought twice. I just look around, grab a piece, put it on and go out. [Laughs]
Unlike your character Kitty who’s hell-bent on destroying the world, you, as an activist, are hell-bent on making it a better place. So, I’m wondering what’s up with you and how you’re making the world a better place now.
Well, a couple of years ago I teamed up with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to plant a million trees in New York City and we’ve planted about 375,000 in the last two years. And I also am the founder and chairman of an organisation called New York Restoration Project and we clean abandoned parks and public places and we also own 55 community gardens where people in the community grow their own food. And we teach kids, as well, about nature, environmental science and all that sort of thing. So we’ve been at it for about 15 years. It’s been one of the great projects of my life.