Taylor Swift is to take her first lead acting role in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, directed by Tom Hooper.
Swift, 28, has one significant screen credit to her name: she voiced the environmentalist Audrey in the 2012 animation The Lorax. She is expected to actually appear on screen – albeit wearing paws and whiskers – in the film, which will begin production later this year in London.
Full details of the casting have yet to be announced, but it seems likely Swift will take the role of Grizabella, the once glamorous, now mangy puss whose showstopper, Memory, is perhaps the musical’s most enduring tune. The part was originated and made famous by Elaine Paige, and more recently played by X Factor winner Leona Lewis and Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the Pussycat Dolls.
Swift’s love of felines has been well documented: the singer previously owned two Siamese-tabby mixes and currently has two Scottish Fold cats, called Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey. Both had cameos in Deadpool 2 – on a T-shirt worn by Ryan Reynolds’s character.
Lloyd Webber’s musical was loosely adapted from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and concerns a tribe of felines called the Jellicles who, one night, must make “the Jellicle choice” and decide which of them shall be resurrected after a trip to the Heaviside Layer.
The show opened in the West End in 1981, where it ran for 21 years. It was on Broadway for 18 years and has had multiple runs around the world, having been translated into more than 20 languages.
A made-for-TV film was broadcast in 1998. Tom Hooper’s 2012 film version of Les Misérables took more than $441m worldwide and won three Academy Awards, including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway.
Joining Swift in Cats will be James Corden, Ian McKellen and Jennifer Hudson, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her part in another film based on a stage musical, Dreamgirls.
Fans have speculated that Corden will play either the rotund and chirpy mog Bustopher Jones or villain Rum Tum Tugger. The assumption is that McKellen will play Old Deuteronomy, a wise, elderly patriarch.
The adaptation is being written by Lee Hall , whose breakthrough came in 2000 with Billy Elliot, which he also adapted for the stage in 2005. Hooper won the best director Oscar for The King’s Speech in 2010 – the film also took best actor and best picture awards – but his most recent film, The Danish Girl, met with less acclaim.
The film is being produced by Working Title and Universal, who also worked with Hooper on Les Misérables.