Between the continued mega-popularity of Hamilton, regular live TV productions of pop musicals, and the recent introduction of various pieces of Broadway merch into style stars’ wardrobes, the Broadway musical is undeniably in the midst of a golden age. This resurgence might reach its peak this December, when the Cats movie hits theaters.
The new film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 Tony-winning production is packed with stars, including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, and many more. Since filming began earlier this year, details of the movie, previously kept to a minimum, have been flooding out. Here’s everything we know so far about Cats—which is actually the second film adaptation of the musical, following a direct-to-video release in 1998—and its “cat school”–attending, star-studded cast.
Taylor Swift will play Bombalurina, the “sexiest” cat.
In January, Swift confirmed speculation that she’d be playing Bombalurina when she posted a selfie next to a sign outside her on-set trailer. Her character has multiple solos in the show and is perhaps best known for being extremely flirty with the male cats of Cats, a quality that costar Rebel Wilson, who is playing Jennyanydots, recently confirmed will shine through in the film. “She’s such a lovely girl, and I personally think her cat is the sexiest out of all the cats,” Wilson told Entertainment Tonight this week.
Ian McKellen attempted to go full Method for his role.
In November, McKellen, who will play Gus the Theatre Cat, discussed his preparation for the part during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show. “At the moment, I’m looking for the inner pussy, the moggy-ness that’s within us all. Not doing very well at it,” he said. “I thought of going on a cat diet, you know, weekends just eating cat food, seeing if that helped. And I’ve always thought that tinned cat food smelled as if it might be rather tasty—it isn’t.”
In another interview this week, Wilson discussed how she and her fellow castmates were working to nail their cat impressions. “It’s pretty interesting to be a cat all day,” she said. “We do have to go to cat school all day, though, which is where we all just pretend to be cats together,” she continued, confirming that she’s joined in cat school by McKellen, Dench, Idris Elba, James Corden, and even Swift, despite the fact that she has two cats of her own to study. Hudson, who will take on the major role of Grizabella, wasn’t included in Wilson’s list, perhaps implying that the glamorous star is already spot-on as the show’s “Glamour Cat.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber has written at least one new song for the film.
Back in early 2018, before the film had even been fully cast and green-lit, the acclaimed composer revealed that he’d already written a new song for the character of Victoria (who will be played by the ballerina Francesca Hayward). Other potential differences from the original show include the possibility that Jason Derulo will rap his songs as Rum Tum Tugger, as has been done in some revivals of the show, rather than sing them, as was done in the original; the announcement that the cast’s feline costumes will be enhanced using CGI, instead of relying simply on copious amounts of stage makeup and fake hair; and the fact that Dench is set to play Deuteronomy, the leader of the titular group of cats, a role typically played by a man.
Still, the film is likely to stay largely faithful to Webber’s original show. Not only is it being directed by Tom Hopper, who proved his knack for bringing stage musicals to the big screen with 2012’s Les Misérables, but it’s also being staged by the experienced Broadway choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who choreographed Hamilton as well as the most recent Broadway revival of Cats.