Judi Dench said in an interview with Out magazine that her character in “Cats,” Old Deuteronomy, is actually transgender.
Dench was asked by a trans interviewer for the LGBT+ publication about being forced to drop out of a stage production of “Cats” from 1981 in London’s West End, and the interviewer pointed out that her character is traditionally played by a man on stage.
“[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,” Dench said of the 1981 production and of the male actor Blessed, who played Old Deuteronomy in the production. “Totally unexpected, it was. I kind of call it ‘trans Deuteronomy,’ is the part for me. But it was lovely to be led about and be an aged, old cat.”
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Dench’s character is a wise, older cat who judges other cats in the annual Jellicle Ball. The cats have a chance to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn in a new life if they are chosen.
Dench was meant to portray the characters Grizabella the Glamour Cat and Jennyanydots the Old Gumbie Cat in the 1981 production in London, but she was forced to leave the play after she snapped an Achilles tendon.
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