Judi Dench Joins Cast of 'Cats'

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Judi Dench

The Oscar-winner will play Deuteronomy, the ancient cat presiding over the felines' Jellicle Ball.

Judi Dench is joining the cast of Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of the musical Cats in the role of Deuteronomy, the ancient cat who presides over the singing felines’ Jellicle Ball. It’s a particularly interesting casting choice since the role has traditionally been played onstage by a man.

Dench, an Oscar winner for 1998’s Shakespeare in Love and a seven-time nominee, is no stranger to musical theater. She was set to play Grizabella, the cat who sings “Memory,” in the original 1981 London production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats. And playing Desiree in a 1995 London production of A Little Night Music, she turned in what many consider the definitive performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”

The movie’s star-studded cast also includes Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and Ian McKellen. In addition to directing, Hooper and Lee Hall have written the screen adaptation. The pic is being produced by Hooper, Debra Hayward and Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. It will be produced by Working Title Films in association with Monumental Pictures and The Really Useful Group and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Lloyd Webber and Angela Morrison.

Universal has set a release date of Dec. 20, 2019. 

Dench is repped by Julian Belfrage Associates and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.