In the movie, Dench, 85, plays a cat called Old Deuteronomy, the leader of a tribe of cats called Jellicles. Each year, Old Deuteronomy, traditionally played by a man, chooses one cat to ascend to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn into a new life.
"It's glorious to have been included in [the film], I must say. [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,” said Dench, referencing the actor that played Old Deuteronomy in the production she had to drop out of.
Because the character is usually portrayed as a male, Dench called her casting "totally unexpected."
“I kind of call it ‘trans-Deuteronomy,’" she explained. "[That's] the part for me, you know.”
The Oscar winner added, "it was lovely, lovely to be led about and be an aged cat, very nice indeed."
Tom Hooper's $100 million adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical bombed at the box office, taking in just $6.5 million in ticket sales its first weekend. Critics haven't liked it much better, as the film drew an 18 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.