Bobbi Kitten returns to the big screen in ‘Maggie Moore(s)’

Two years after Kitten helped land ‘Poser’ in the Tribeca Film Festival, the Columbus musician and actress is back on the silver screen in the new film from director and 'Mad Men'-alum John Slattery.
Bobbi Kitten
Bobbi KittenCourtesy the artist

In June 2021, Bobbi Kitten made the rounds at the Tribeca Film Festival with Poser, the debut movie from the Columbus-based Loose Films, in which the Damn the Witch Siren musician played an exaggerated version of herself.

Following the screening, while still in New York, Kitten received a call from a manager who said she was with 3 Arts Entertainment, and that she been impressed by Kitten's work in the film.

“It didn’t even seem real at the time. I told all my friends and the directors from Poser, and everyone was like, ‘Be careful. It could be a scam,’” said Kitten, who did some quick, cursory research on the company, which has a three-decade history producing television shows (Parks and Recreation; Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and movies (Pootie Tang; Edge of Tomorrow). “And one of the huge reasons I said yes right away is because I love Tina Fey – I’ve read her book like three times – and I love Amy Poehler, and they both worked with 3 Arts Entertainment.”

Over the next few months, the company lined Kitten up with a series of auditions, including a small part in Maggie Moore(s), a Coen Brothers-esque comedy directed by Mad Men actor John Slattery and starring fellow Mad Men alum Jon Hamm, Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso) and, of course, the aforementioned Fey. “It was the fifth audition they pitched, and it was like, ‘Oh, my God. It’s actually a Tina Fey movie,’” said Kitten, who traveled to New York earlier this week for the premiere of Maggie Moore(s), which receives nationwide release on Friday, June 16. “I was flipping the fuck out. I had to manifest it. It was like, I have to get this role.”

Two weeks later, Kitten learned that she had landed the part. And in October 2021 she traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for three weeks of filming, arriving a few days early to prep for wardrobe, explore the city and spend time absorbing whatever she could from the assembled cast and crew.

On her first day, Kitten visited a house where filming was taking place and tried her best to pass unnoticed in the wings. “And Slattery is like, ‘Bobbi! What are you doing over there? Come and join me!’” Kitten said, and laughed. “And then he invited me to sit in his director’s chair, and he gave me headphones so I could listen, and I felt so awkward because I had people coming up to me not knowing I was playing Cassie Novak yet. I had one girl come up to me and be like, ‘Um, you know this is the director’s chair, right?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, but he told me to sit here! He basically wouldn’t take no for an answer.’”

As with Poser, Kitten’s character in Maggie Moore(s) draws at least some inspiration from her own existence – at least in terms of style – with Kitten relaying how Slattery told her that he’d listened to her band and checked out her Instagram, and that her hair, makeup and overall vibe were ideally suited to the character.

“He was like, ‘However you came off the plane, just do that,’” said Kitten, who lauded the professionalism of the cast and crew, who readily embraced her as a peer. “It crazy to be with all of these big players and feel like I was treated like a fucking rock star. … I was sitting in the makeup chair and Jon Hamm came up to me like, ‘Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Jon Hamm.’ And it was like, ‘Of course you are! But that’s also really fucking cool of you.’”

At the time of filming, Kitten and partner Z Wolf were also in the midst of writing and recording the most recent Damn the Witch Siren album Gold Magic, from 2022, a chaotic stretch in which Kitten juggled a day job, recording sessions and occasional film auditions, which could pop up at unexpected times, leaving Kitten scrambling to adjust her schedule, sometimes with as little as 24 hours' notice. 

Some of these auditions could be mentally taxing, including a dramatic role Kitten read for in which she stepped into the shoes of an alcoholic, while others allowed the musician to live out childhood fantasies. Such was the case when Kitten auditioned for the lead in the since-canceled Madonna biopic, a high-profile role that attracted the likes of Florence Pugh and Julia Garner, along with fellow musicians Sky Ferreira and Bebe Rexha. “And then as the PR started coming out about it, I was like, ‘Oh, goddamn it. This movie isn’t going to happen,’” Kitten said.

Madonna aside, one thing that struck Kitten about the audition process were how female characters were so often flimsy and poorly written, a reality she attributed in part to the dearth of women writers. “Women are so dynamic, and a lot of the [female] characters in Hollywood are so flat and cliche,” said Kitten, who enrolled in a screenwriting course after reading for a handful of these less-dynamic parts and has spent the bulk of the last year writing and editing her first screenplay. “There aren’t enough stories from women about women. And that’s one thing I always pursued in music: telling my narrative and owning my sexuality, owning my own stories.”

The idea of ownership is something Kitten always embraced alongside Wolf in Damn the Witch Siren. The electro-pop duo writes and records all of the songs, films and edits the music videos, and works together to cultivate a dynamic onstage presence. So, it shouldn’t surprise that she’s taking a similar holistic approach to growing a career in film. “I don’t really feel like an actor; I’m just dipping my toes in,” Kitten said. “I know it’s a cliche, but I would love to write and direct. … I think it would be really cool to have that kind of creative control.”

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