How could we leave out Mr. Bigglesworth? That’s like asking how you could neglect to call exterminator services should you forget you have a cockroach infestation. Not only do we remember him fondly from the role he played in Austin Powers, but he was also named Cat of the Year by Cats magazine in 1999. I know. I also perished slightly when I learned that that’s a thing that exists. The role of Mr. Bigglesworth was played by a cat with an equally hilarious name, Ted Nudegent, who was a purebred champion hairless Egyptian Sphynx cat. Really he’s got quite an impressive upbringing, apparently.
Of course, there was a brief moment at the beginning of the first Austin Powers movie at which point Ted did not portray Mr. Bigglesworth. This was before he and Dr. Evil underwent the cryogenic freezing process that apparently caused Mr. Bigglesworth to lose all of the lovely, long, white hair he possessed when he was still a Persian cat. His originally being a Persian was in reference to the cat of infamous James Bond villain (excuse me, Supervillain … apparently that’s the proper classification) Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who appears in many Bond films and novels as the head of SPECTRE. Which is a global criminal organisation dead set on world domination. Because, you know, man’s thirst for power etc, etc.
So Mr. Bigglesworth was originally a majestic Persian, just like Blofeld’s, but then became an arguably less-majestic hairless Sphynx after a slightly bungled scientific operation. The engineer, or course, did not “anticipate feline complications with the unfreezing process,” which I think is a valid excuse. Dr. Evil didn’t think so, however, so down Will Ferrell went, to what the audience can only assume is some sort of fiery pit. He survives the fall and the burning, of course, and appears in later films, unlike Mr. Bigglesworth’s fur.
I like how Mr. Bigglesworth was used in the films, and how well he supported the whole point of the series, in that he started out very briefly as the kind of cat you’d expect a supervillain to have, but then turns very quickly – and for a ridiculous reason – into a parody of that. And that’s what the whole franchise is doing, obviously, is poking fun at the classic Bond films. The way they do it, however, isn’t cruel or indicting, rather, I believe that it comes from a place of fondness, and I think that the transformation of Mr. Bigglesworth is an excellent example of that.
Unlike the monkeys in Friends, there are no reports that I’ve read that suggest any of the cast members of crew held any ill will towards Ted Nudegent. That’s not to say, however, that he didn’t slow down filming a little bit here and there. Not because he was misbehaving, but rather because he had taken a specific liking to Mike Meyers, in whose lap he was often found snoozing. Which I certainly would have found more adorable than annoying. Then again, it’s a cat. And I find pretty much all cats adorable. Always.