The Real Deal With The Cat On The Night Of

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Night Of's finale night may not have answered all of our questions about the evening in question, but thanks to one of the showrunners, our curiosity about one of crime drama's breakout characters has been satisfied. Co-writer and co-director Steven Zaillian wrote a piece for Medium about the cat. Zaillian divulged the intentions and meaning behind the quiet, but ever-present, feline that Stone adopted after he found it outside the crime scene at Andrea's townhouse.
"At the beginning, there were no grand designs for the cat as a character," Zaillian wrote. "It was there in the first episode to establish in a natural way that Naz has asthma and uses an inhaler. That and one other thing." (Zaillian doesn't elaborate here, but we're guessing he's referring to how the cat established that the back door of Andrea's apartment was left open.) Zaillian also notes that the decision to keep the cat nameless was very intentional. But the show-writers were reluctant to just use the cat as a plot device and then get rid of it. They wondered, "What might happen to the pet of a murder victim who has no close family?"
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So they made the cat part of attorney John Stone's storyline. Being allergic, he takes it to a shelter (and later re-adopted it). This initial scene at the pound made for a great metaphor. "When [Stone], and we first see the shelter, its stark walls and cages resemble a prison cellblock. This, too, was intentional. And as the cat with no name is carried by a volunteer past the chain-link cages housing loud dogs, it’s an experience not unlike Naz’s when he’s first taken into Rikers by a corrections officer. The outlook for both of them is grim."
If you're wondering about the feline IRL, Zaillian has elaborated on that, too. The kitty is male and his real name is Bam Bam. "Bam Bam was adorable and engaging and expressive — and entirely unimpressed with all the activity on a film set," he wrote. "I fell for Bam Bam right away, and so did everyone else, no one more so than John Turturro [who plays Stone], which was important, obviously, since John would be acting with Bam Bam in far more scenes than anyone else. He was very fond of Bam Bam."
So does Bam Bam have a future in acting? Perhaps — it sounds like he has the makings of a star. "There are actors who people say are naturals. I would say there are also animal actors who are naturals," wrote Zaillian. "Bam Bam was not some circus cat trained to jump through hoops; Bam Bam was a natural actor. All you had to do was create a nice environment for Bam Bam, turn the cameras on, and marvel at his work."
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