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Judi Dench turns ‘Cats’ catastrophe into triumph playing Old Deuteronomy in movie version

Judi Dench is coming out triumphant with “Cats,” starring in director Tom Hooper’s movie version alongside fellow feline stars Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson (due out Dec. 19).

But Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feline-filled musical has been a tough road for the Oscar-winning actress, who had to pull out of the original 1981 London stage production.

Dench was preparing to play two West End parts — The Old Gumbie cat Jennyanydots and the decrepit Grizabella when disaster struck during rehearsals, weeks away from opening.

“I snapped my Achilles tendon and went into hospital and I was all in plaster (cast),” says Dench.

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But Lloyd Webber and director Trevor Nunn (who has directed Dench in the movie “Red Joan,” out in theaters on Friday) delayed opening “Cats” in London so Dench could recover.

“There was no question I would not be playing the Gumbie Cat, because I couldn’t move. But they said, ‘Grizabella is on her last legs anyways,’ ” says Dench. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in plaster.”

But while rehearsing again, still wearing the cast, in a new theater location, Dench took a dangerous tumble.

“I fell off the stage,” said Dench. “And I thought, ‘This is ridiculous. This is absolutely absurd. I cannot do this.’ “


Judi Dench is a woman with a mysterious past, who is charged with spying in “Red Joan.”

The actress reluctantly

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