Annette Bening Was Originally Cast As Catwoman In Tim Burton’s Batman Returns

Before she was vacuum-sealed into her Catwoman suit, Michelle Pfeiffer was wallowing having seemingly lost the role to another actress. As she told The Hollywood Reporter, “As a young girl, I was completely obsessed with Catwoman. When I heard that Tim [Burton] was making the film and Catwoman had already been cast, I was devastated.” At the time, Annette Bening was set to star in the role and production was moving ahead with her on board. In fact, the Catwoman costume and mask had been fitted for Bening before she had to drop out due to getting pregnant.

Just as when Sean Young had to quit “Batman,” Burton was faced with having to find a last-minute replacement for Bening. Luckily, Pfeiffer was extremely interested and claims she told Burton she would take the role having read only half the “Batman Returns” script. But far from being a second-rate stand-in, Pfeiffer exuded the exact energy Burton and his team was looking for. Producer Denise Di Novi recalled how, “Something just clicked where we thought ‘she’s perfect, she also could be Selina Kyle and Catwoman.'”

Once she’d been confirmed for the role, the actress threw herself into intense preparation, training with a whip and learning kickboxing. But as Di Novi pointed out, it was her adept portrayal of both the put-upon Selina Kyle and her sultry, tricksterish alter-ego that made her performance as memorable as it was. When combined with that dramatic, vacuum-sealed suit, Pfeiffer’s Catwoman performance was destined to become iconic.

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