Judi Dench has a very interesting take on her Cats character, one that we can’t tell if she’s serious about or not.
In the big Christmas musical adaptation, Dench plays Old Deutoronomy, a wise old cat who judges the annual Jellicle Ball, during which different cats perform for the chance to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a new life. The role is traditionally played by a male actor, but Dench was tapped for the big-screen version — a full circle moment, as she was supposed to star in the 1981 West End stage production of the musical as Grizabella the Glamour Cat and Jennyanydots the Old Gumbie Cat, but had to drop out after snapping her achilles tendon.
“Its glorious to have been included in it, I must say,” Dench told Out at a London press junket for the film on Thursday. “[It was] nerve wracking, because all I can hear is Brian Blessed all the time in the production that I wasn’t able to be in,” she added, referring to to the actor who played Old Deutoronomy in the West End production.
Being cast in the traditionally male role was “totally unexpected” for Dench. “I kind of call it ‘trans Deuteronomy,’ is the part for me, you know.” Do the cats of Cats have access to hormones? And when exactly did Old Deutoronomy transition.
Dench added that “it was lovely, lovely to be led about and be an aged cat, very nice indeed.” It seems like Dench’s comments seem more joking, but if she’s serious — visibility matters!
Cats is in theaters December 20.