Pet Sematary cat, Church
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Credit: Paramount Pictures

Leo the Cat, who played undead Church in Pet Sematary remake, has died

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May 30, 2019

Leo, the Maine Coon feline who played the undead version of Church (short for "Winston Churchill") in the recent Pet Sematary remake, has sadly passed away.

"It is with deep sadness that we tell you that Leo has passed away," reads a post from the cat's official Instagram account, which is run by his owner/trainer, Kirk Jarrett. "He will forever be missed by his human and fur family. May his star always shine bright!!"

Leo (adopted by Jarrett after shooting was over) was actually one of four Maine Coons utilized in the making of the Stephen King adaptation, but he pretty much got top billing by appearing at the top of the main movie poster. His double was named Tonic, while two other cats (Jaeger and JD) served as "understudies." A fifth had been chosen, but couldn't stand the noise of set and was, therefore, not included in the film. Both Leo and Tonic became social media influencers in the run-up to the movie's release.

"He’s just got such a cool look, different from any other cat I’ve seen. He’s got this beautiful face, and these eyes that are so expressive," Melissa Millett, one of the movie's animal trainers, said of Leo during an interview with The A.V. Club in April.

Based on the 1983 novel of the same name, Pet Sematary centers on Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), a young university doctor whose life starts to spiral out of control when his neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), shows him a magical burial ground that brings dead things back to life. When the family cat, Church, is run over by a truck, Louis brings it back to life, but the cat's deathly stink and mean and appraising attitude (cattitude?) prove that the mystical dirt doesn't bring things back the same.


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