The 'Cats' Cast Is A Star-Studded Display Of "Digital Fur Technology"

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One of the hallmarks of a holiday blockbuster film is a star-studded cast, and Cats certainly bears that hallmark with distinction. The film is filled to the brim with stars, all of whom also have at least some theatrical or musical background. Trying to keep track of — or even recognize, really, given the special effects — any of them is confusing enough. To that end, here's a little cheat sheet of the cast of Cats you can review ahead of its Dec. 20 release date.

In the event you aren't one of the many die-hard fans of the Broadway musical, you should know that the plot might seem a bit strange — on the surface, at least. The cats in Cats belong to a fictional tribe of cats known as the Jellicle cats, who, over the course of a specific night, must decide which of them will ascend to something called the Heaviside layer in order to be reborn into a new life. The film covers that one specific night, following each of the cats as they compete for the honor of ascending while others support or participate in the ritual ascension.

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The lead Jellicle cat ensemble includes Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Francesca Hayward, and Jason Derulo, all of whom are styled via special effects with fur to look like cats, similar to how the stage actors were costumed for the stage play. In case that pesky digital fur technology makes the cast unrecognizable to you, we've got a handy guide to Cats' cast of characters here.

Taylor Swift as Bombalurina

Swift plays the catnip-loving Bombalurina, a mischievous cat who sings on "Macavity," a song about the exploits of Idris Elba's eponymous character.

Francesca Hayward as Victoria

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The ballerina Hayward plays the shy Victoria in her first feature-length film role.

Idris Elba as Macavity

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Elba is perfectly cast in the role of the dangerous and edgy Macavity, who is Cats' main antagonist.

James Corden as Bustopher Jones

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Corden brings his trademark levity to this role, which is largely comic relief.

Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella

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The powerhouse singer gets Cats' most vocal-heavy role playing Grizabella, who belts the musical's most famous song, "Memory."

Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy

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Though this grizzled elder statesman was indeed male in the musical, Judi Dench has authority in spades to play this character.

Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat

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McKellen plays an aging star who's nostalgic for the days when he was a theater actor.

Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots

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At night, Jennyanydots gets the party started, ruling over the mice and cockroaches.

Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger

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The "Whatcha Say" singer plays this iconic cat, who loves being the center of attention.

One caveat: the cats as presented here may look a tiny bit different from what audiences might see in theaters on Dec. 20. Responding to the criticisms levied against the visual effects in the first trailer from July, director Tom Hooper told Empire, "I was just so fascinated because I didn't think it was controversial at all." He explained, "We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage." Hooper went on to reassure audiences, saying, "When you watch the finished film, you’ll see that some of the designs of the cats have moved on since then, and certainly our understanding of how to use the technology to make them work has gone up, too."

It'll be very interesting indeed to see if whether those changes make any discernible difference or not. Ultimately, the judgment call there is left up to audiences, who won't have to wait too long to see the cats for themselves.