Francesca Hayward on Ballet, Cats & Taylor Swift


JIMMY KIMMEL: Well it’s
very good to have you here. Boy, what an interesting
story you have. It really is remarkable.
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: Where are
you from originally? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
I was born in Kenya, but I’ve lived in
England my whole life. JIMMY KIMMEL: You’ve lived
in England your whole life. You are a principal dancer. What does that mean? What does that term
mean, a principal dancer? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
So principal dancer– when you join a ballet company,
you usually start in, like, the corps de ballet. So you do the group pieces. And then you hopefully
get the opportunity to work your way up to the top. And then it means that I do
the principal roles in the show now. JIMMY KIMMEL: Are
there assistant principal dancers before? [LAUGHTER] FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Um, there
are, yeah, like soloists. JIMMY KIMMEL: OK. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: So you
start corps de ballet, and then soloists, and then
eventually you get the chance to be a principal, hopefully. JIMMY KIMMEL: And you did a
show last night in London. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yes. JIMMY KIMMEL: So
then you got on– I assume you flew?
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: You got on a
plane and came right here. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah, I am
pretty spaced out right now. Like last night, I was
doing onstage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. And then I went home,
finished my packing, had two hours sleep, and
then I got in the car and got on the plane,
and now I’m here. JIMMY KIMMEL: Unbelievable. [CHEERING] It’s gotta be like a
weird dream or something. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: And
you how long are you, like, actually on stage dancing
during a show like the one you did last night? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Last night
is usually about three hours. JIMMY KIMMEL: Three hours? You’re dancing for three hours? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: I
mean, with intervals. But obviously, the
intervals were not chilling. We’re– I’m, like, changing
hair and makeup, you know, like putting on another costume,
like changing my pointe shoes. Yeah, everything. JIMMY KIMMEL: This sounds
absolutely exhausting. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: It is, yeah. It’s tiring.
JIMMY KIMMEL: Is it fun though? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Yeah, it’s super fun. Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: And now
you’ve made this transition, or you’ve dipped your
toe, I guess, in– [LAUGHTER] –in acting. And was that always your plan? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
No, I think this came about– really, I
heard about the opportunity to audition. And you know, I felt like
I had nothing to lose. Like, I love my
job, but I thought, what an amazing opportunity. And also, when I was younger,
I used to– in my living room, I used to dance around as– JIMMY KIMMEL: Me too. [LAUGHTER] FRANCESCA HAYWARD: I used
to put “Cats” the video on, the stage musical video. And I used to copy Victoria. So it was when I
heard that I could potentially be her in the new– JIMMY KIMMEL: You thought, hey,
I got experience in this area here.
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: Yeah, for sure. And how many months did it
take to shoot this movie? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: I took
about six, seven months off from the Royal Ballet. JIMMY KIMMEL: When you take
that much time off, do you– is it bad for ballet? Do you have to dance
every single day to stay in shape or whatever? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yes,
the unfortunate thing is we train our whole life. And even if you take
more than two days off, you start to feel a difference. JIMMY KIMMEL: Really? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: So I
would actually get two sets– well, I would get to
the filming studios, like, two hours before
the rest of the cast. And I would go into makeup. And then I would do ballet
class before everyone had even got to the makeup chair. So sometimes I was doing ballet
class at 6:30 in the morning. JIMMY KIMMEL: So you’re
still taking classes? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah, I had
to do my training every day on top of the filming as well. JIMMY KIMMEL: And do you have
a coach there that helps you, or you do it all by yourself? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: No, I ask
someone to come in and, you know, whip me into shape. JIMMY KIMMEL: So
these other actors are coming in
drinking their coffee, like, oh, I’m exhausted. And you’re like, yeah, I
did two hours of ballet. FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Yeah, pretty much. Yeah JIMMY KIMMEL: And then too,
the cast is– you know, you’ve got this very
high profile cast. James Corden was
here the other night. Dame Judi Dench is in the– who
else is in this cast with you? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Jennifer
Hudson, Taylor Swift. JIMMY KIMMEL: Taylor Swift, yes. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Idris Elba. JIMMY KIMMEL: And you
all took cat lessons? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yes. JIMMY KIMMEL: Now, this
is where you learn. Who teaches you to be a cat? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
So we had a cat behavioral specialist on set. JIMMY KIMMEL: And
that’s a thing? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Yes, that’s a real job. Yeah.
JIMMY KIMMEL: OK. All right. There’s, by the way, no
reason to applaud for that. [LAUGHTER] Not a career I approve of. But go on. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: So that’s
a lady called Sarah Dowling, and she’s actually
a choreographer who I knew before. And for this film, she
just studied cat behavior and taught us. Like every time
we’d do a scene, you know she’d really help
us make everything we did a bit more feline. But also, we literally did
cat school like every day. it was part of like
getting into the zone. JIMMY KIMMEL: So Judi
Dench was in cat school? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah.
[LAUGHTER] JIMMY KIMMEL: And
they’re like, no, you have to be more catty Judi. FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Yeah, literally. JIMMY KIMMEL: Really?
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: Did anyone cough
up a hairball or anything like that? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: No. JIMMY KIMMEL: See
a ball of yarn, and suddenly you’re
running away? And then did you feel like
it made you more like a cat? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Yeah, definitely. I mean–
[LAUGHTER] Yeah, no, seriously, at
weekends when I had time off, when I was with my
friends, sometimes they look at me weirdly, and
then they’d say, Frankie, you just picked
that up like a cat. Kind of– I don’t know,
something feline about the way I was doing things. JIMMY KIMMEL: Frankie, why
are you licking my face? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah! [LAUGHTER] JIMMY KIMMEL: Here, let me
get you a saucer of milk. Did you do that? Did you drink milk
like that out of the– FRANCESCA HAYWARD: We
did in the film, yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: Oh,
you did in the movie? Oh, OK. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. JIMMY KIMMEL: Boy,
Hollywood’s dumb, isn’t it? It’s really dumb. I mean, you’re a bunch of
adults, highly successful people acting like cats. And some lady is like, no,
you’re not being a cat. You’re not. You’ve gotta do it like this. And you go, oh,
well, she’s right. FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Yeah, take it seriously. Yeah. [LAUGHTER] JIMMY KIMMEL: So then do
you want to do more acting? Is that the plan? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Definitely. I love my job, and I
want to keep doing ballet as long as possible,
’cause it’s– you know, it’s a short career. It doesn’t last very long.
JIMMY KIMMEL: Tell me about it. Yeah.
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] JIMMY KIMMEL: I got bounced
out when I turned 35. [LAUGHTER] And you sing in
the movie as well. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: I do, yes. JIMMY KIMMEL: Was that
something that you’ve done through your whole life? No, it’s not. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: No. I sang at school a little bit,
but this was completely out of my comfort zone. So yeah, I just remember
doing my first audition and being very
terrified of singing in front of, like, one person. JIMMY KIMMEL: Oh. FRANCESCA HAYWARD: And
then, obviously, just had to keep doing it with more
help until I was just singing in front of a whole room
of cast and crew and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift. JIMMY KIMMEL: Oh, really? You had to sing
in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift?
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yes. Well, they wrote my
song, “Beautiful Ghosts.” JIMMY KIMMEL: Oh, they did?
FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Yes. Yeah, yeah.
JIMMY KIMMEL: Wow. And then does Taylor Swift teach
you the song that she wrote? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: Well, I
think probably one of the most surreal days of my life
so far was when Taylor asked to meet me,
and she had written the lyrics for Andrew’s music. And she called me into a
room, and she basically gave me a private concert of
the song for the first time, just me, her, and a pianist. And Tom Cooper–
JIMMY KIMMEL: And a what? FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
–the director– [LAUGHTER]
A pianist. JIMMY KIMMEL: I see. FRANCESCA HAYWARD:
Is that my accent? Did you not hear that? JIMMY KIMMEL: Mm-hmm, yeah. I’m just being dumb. Sorry. [LAUGHTER] FRANCESCA HAYWARD: So she
sang me the whole song– JIMMY KIMMEL: I didn’t
go to cat school. I don’t have the manners. [LAUGHTER] So she sang this song to you? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: She sang
the whole song, just to me, in a room.
And then– JIMMY KIMMEL: Was
that uncomfortable? FRANCESCA HAYWARD: No, it
was really just surreal. And at the end of it, she
said– very, very sweetly she said to me, is that OK? Like, she’d written it for me.
Is that all right for you? And I was like, yeah, that’s OK. [LAUGHTER] JIMMY KIMMEL: That was very
nice of you to say that. Well, it’s great to meet you. I look forward to
seeing this movie. It’s called “Cats.” It opens December 20th. Francesca Hayward, everybody! I’ll be right back with
Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks!

100 thoughts on “Francesca Hayward on Ballet, Cats & Taylor Swift

  1. She seems like someone who deserves to be known ^^ .. she seems humble and talented. it’s so admirable her physical abilities as well

  2. The fact that she does not seem to know how to play into Jimmy's constant attempts to make the conversation more 'talk-showy' and entertaining – by virtually ridiculing every step of the creative process – really shows how raw and down-to-earth she is. I really like that, unlike most actresses – she does not feel the need to giggle through every question and adjust her normal behaviour; she just does her best to answer honestly and professionally, which is really refreshing. Kimmel comes through as very disrespectful, though – you have someone with and actual work-ethic who clearly takes their craft seriously, and he basically pokes fun of her discipline & preparation for this film – esp. at 4:00. A host should adapt their conversation style to the guest they are having (see Colbert), not the other way around – by basically making her engage in the same flippant and condescending way of talking about ballet & the film that Jimmy seems to project here. It's her first time on a US talkshow as well, she deserved better.

  3. Ohhhh.. that's what it means. I thought she did the morning announcement, and bad dancers got sent to see her, and she gave them detention..

  4. DIRECTOR: "Yes, I know you're a method actor and you're flexible, but this is a PG13 movie, so stop that…"
    FRANCESCA: "Then why did they get me to do it at the audition?"
    DIRECTOR: "What audition?"

  5. Love Francesca Hayward! Only discovered ballet recently, been obsessively watching her and Marianela Núñez, Lauren Cuthbertson, Vadim Muntagirov, Carlos Acosta, Alexander Campbell etc with the Royal Ballet for the past few months ? Congratulations Frankie! ??❤️

  6. The cat behavioural course was for like 1 month or something like that, Taylor Swift stayed in the course for 4 month's as she is the mother of cats lol Taylor actually sings the song "Beautiful Ghosts" she co-wrote with Lord Lloyd Webber.

  7. What a wonderful woman. I really like Jimmy, but he is a little bit too trashy in this interview. I hope Francesca does not feel disrespected because of this. She stays admirably professional with the situation and does genuinely seem like a person who achieved what she did due to hard work and discipline. I wish her the best for her career and hope that mankind will be exposed to more of her beauty and good attitude in the future 🙂

  8. She's a great ballerina! And a stunning woman! People should learn that Ballet dancers are just like any other athlete. They have to to train (take class) everyday to stay at top form.

  9. I'm still not planning to catch "CATS" in theaters, but she is really gorgeous and sweet! Francesca does have a very feline quality to her, and also a very lovely accent.

  10. We have been so lucky to meet Francesca, she is my daughters idol and to see her dance the nutcracker is phenomenal. She was fantastic and so humble, she made my daughters day, by giving us a personal tour of the Royal Opera House, and was such a beautiful person. Love her to bits. ❤️

  11. They say that the future of humanity is brown. If people like her are the future of humanity, in both good looks and humbleness, then I think we'll be okay.

  12. I was surprised to learn that Judi Dench was in the original stage cast for Cats in 1981, but had to pull out due to injury a couple of weeks before previews.

  13. I know that she is new to the industry and I am excited to see her doing the press for the movie because she is the star in so many ways, but it is so awesome to see such a tremendously talented person in this role. I hope that she has continued success in whatever she decides to pursue because she seems like a genuinely kind and humble person as well as immensely talented.

  14. Love Francesca 🙂 I'm so pleased to see hugely talented performers like her, Robbie Fairchild and others going into film – I hope this becomes a thing.

  15. She is very natural and beautiful person.
    Although Jimmy cats don't drink milk.
    I wish her the best in her endeavors
    I love ?s?

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