The famous ginger Tom is the star of A Street Cat Named Bob, directed by Canadian Roger Spottiswoode, which is in cinemas from November 4, 2016.
The film is based on the bestselling book of the same title, which has shifted six million copies and tells the story of how Bob’s companionship helped homeless busker James Bowen to win his battle with drug addiction.
Originally, the London puss wasn’t supposed to play himself in the film. The producers had ten specially trained doubles flown over from Canada, but they proved scaredy cats when it came to filming in London at night, so Bob stepped in.
James, 37, tells The Sun: “Bob was never supposed to be in the film. The producer brought these cats over from Canada. They were great cats but they didn’t know London.
“As it was getting dark, Bob was with me and they were shooting near Bow Street Magistrates and they asked Bob to help out. They said Bob was doing brilliantly so would I mind bringing him in every day? I couldn’t have been more honoured.”
Crucially, Bob got on very well with Luke Treadaway, 32, who plays his owner James in the movie.
In the end, 11-year-old Bob appeared in more scenes than any of the other cats and is now set to tour the world promoting the film. It also proved very lucrative for him.
James used to busk in London’s Covent Garden market and sell copies of the Big Issue. But the presence of high-fiving Bob proved a bigger attraction than his guitar-playing. People wanted to have selfies taken with Bob, and James obliged.
A literary agent then signed them up for a book, which became a hit a year later. These days Bob has his own Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, plus an online shop.
Today, perched on a designer couch in a posh penthouse hotel suite in central London ahead of his photoshoot with The Sun, Bob looks like the cat who got the whole dairy, never mind the cream.
But for James, what having a feline friend like Bob means to him is far more important than any movie.
He says: “He’s my baby, he’s changed my life. I love him so much.”
Born in Surrey, James was a toddler when his parents split up.
He was moved between them in Australia and England, struggling to make friends because he never settled in one place. In his late teens he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and manic depression. And despite having a comfortable middle-class upbringing he started sniffing glue, then smoking cannabis and finally taking heroin. James spent ten years on the streets of London until he was given a flat in a council block in 2007.
That was where he found Bob, a threadbare ginger cat sitting in the communal hallway.
Bob gave him a reason to live and the desire to be free of the heroin substitute methadone.
James says: “If I hadn’t met Bob I’d probably be dead or existing to survive. I had nothing, nobody. I had no reason before he came into my life. I went through the motions and those motions included staying off drugs on the methadone programme. It could often be so tempting if it hadn’t been for Bob.”
The movie is an uplifting and inspiring story, but while being undoubtedly feelgood it does not shy away from the horror of drugs.
James says: “It does drive home the dangers in that life, when you are living on the edge. I have lost many friends.”
Not only is James drug-free but he has also reconciled with his dad John in London and mum Penelope in Australia.
Fame and fortune has also changed life for Bob, who is now a house cat rather than a street one.
“Bob has just bought me a house in South London,” James says, proudly.
Bob is not stuck indoors — wherever James goes, he goes too. The busy pair are ambassadors for The Big Issue Foundation, a charity which helps homeless people, and the Blue Cross animal welfare charity.
James says: “I have been very lucky. I’ve been given a chance to change my ways and I think everybody else deserves another chance. That should be a requirement in life.”
Via: The Sun