Physicality is a huge key to any actress' performance as Catwoman — and while many have come and gone, there's one in particular that stands the test of time. For a lot of Bat-fans, Michelle Pfeiffer's work in "Batman Returns" cemented her as the definitive Catwoman. The actress has been outspoken about the process, from her stunning (yet asphyxiating) suit to the whip she learned to handle herself. Her dedication to the role astounded everyone, including the film's director, Tim Burton.
"Michelle is a great actress, but she also does these funny physical things. Almost fluttering her eyes in the scene where she comes back to life," Burton told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. "Her eyes look like a special effects, but that was all done by her."
Another sequence that could easily be mistaken for VFX? There's a moment in "Batman Returns," as Catwoman schemes with the Penguin (Danny DeVito), where she takes a bird from a cage and places it right in her mouth. Seconds later, she opens her mouth and the bird goes flying out. It's a moment that so many have speculated over in the years since — the bird had to have been a visual effect, or at the very least sedated … right? To hear Burton and Pfeiffer tell it, though, that scene was one of many that the actress performed without much movie magic to help.
So Much Yummier
In the late '80s, when "Batman Returns" was filmed, CGI wasn't nearly so en vogue as it's become now. Practical sets and effects were still very much the standard, which didn't leave Burton with many options. Luckily, Pfeiffer was about as dedicated as they come, as Burton recalled to THR:
"I don't think I've ever been so impressed. She had a live bird in her mouth while the camera was rolling. It was four or five seconds, and then she let it fly out. It was before CG, it was before digital. It was so quick, it seems like it was an effect."
The scene was completed in one perfect take. Like Burton said, it was over in a flash — but Pfeiffer definitely thought about the consequences after the fact. "I look back and say, 'What was I thinking? I could've gotten a disease or something from having a live bird in my mouth,'" Pfeiffer recalled. "I think Tim likes to torture me a bit, it's like a little brother [or] brat kind of thing."
Fortunately, no birds — or actors — were harmed in the making of that scene. Pfeiffer's no stranger to suffering for her art, but at least the end result made for a moment we still talk about today.
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The post That Was A Real Bird In Michelle Pfeiffer's Mouth During Batman Returns appeared first on /Film.