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Dame Judi Dench: I didn’t know what I would look like in Cats

Dame Judi Dench in Cats (Universal)
Dame Judi Dench in Cats (Universal)

Dame Judi Dench has said she did not know what she would look like when she was filming Cats, but has ended up resembling a pet she once had.

The veteran star plays Old Deuteronomy in the big screen adaptation of the stage musical, which uses “digital fur technology” to transform actors into animals.

Dame Judi added it was a new experience to work with “green leotards and spots” so that her fur, tail, whiskers and ears could be added to her appearance with CGI in post-production.

She told the PA news agency: “With a play or something you’re about to do, you know what that person will look like.

“And in this case, of course, we didn’t quite know what the person (would look like).

“I thought I knew what I looked like and quite suddenly I looked like a glorious orange show cat, which I am very, very pleased about. And very like a cat I had once called Carpet, so it’s in memory of Carpet.

“So that’s quite curious when you suddenly think, ‘Oh, oh… that kind of person’.”

She added: “You look at things and think, ‘How are they going to get rid of that?’

“But of course they can do wonderful things and I don’t know how many people work on it afterwards and – it would be very nice to do this in the theatre – get rid of anything that they don’t want.”

The Oscar winner was initially due to appear in the stage production of Cats in 1981 but had to drop out due to injury.

She said: “I thought it was the end. I was in plaster and I was playing Grizabella, so they thought, ‘It doesn’t matter, she’s a clapped out old cat’, but I fell off the stage.

“I went home and got Michael (Williams, her husband) to ring Trevor (Nunn, the director) and say, ‘I can’t’.

“So I never thought it would come back and it has. I’m thrilled!”

Cats is released in UK cinemas on December 20.

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