Watch: Dan Stevens reveals Judi Dench’s reaction to the Cats backlash
Fifteen years on from their first appearance on stage together, Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens has reunited with Dame Judi Dench in a new film version of the vintage comedy Blithe Spirit. But his abiding memory of the shoot is her reaction to the backlash that followed the release of her previous film Cats.
Talking to Yahoo Movies UK about his new movie, he revealed that Dench “was slightly in rehab from her experience with Cats, so it was just very, very funny listening to her de-brief from all of that.
“That seems to be my enduring memory of the shoot. She was still bemused by what had happened.”
Although the actor was too discreet to describe exactly what the Oscar winner said – “I don’t think I can repeat it. It was full of expletives!” – he did reveal that “there’s not much that gets her going like that, but she was pretty mad about the fur, I think.”
In Blithe Spirit, Stevens plays Charles Condomine, a writer whose dead wife returns as a ghost, conjured up by fraudulent medium, Madame Arcati (Judi Dench). Noël Coward’s original play first appeared on stage in the 40s and was filmed by David Lean in 1945.
Stevens and Dench first worked together on the London stage in 2006 in another Coward comedy, Hay Fever. He remembers that as “a magical job, watching her on stage, doing her thing. This time we were having some fun, working with classic material but giving it a modern spin.”
The new version of Blithe Spirit also stars Leslie Mann as the mischievous but ghostly Elvira, who can only be seen by her former husband. Isla Fisher plays his new wife, Ruth, the third person in the love triangle.
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After making his name on TV’s Downton Abbey, Stevens left to appear in films such as The Guest and Disney’s live action version of Beauty And The Beast. Most recently, he was seen stealing every scene in Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga.
Tom Hooper’s big screen adaptation of Cats opened in December 2019 to some of the most savage reviews in recent cinema history. Judi Dench starred as elderly theatrical cat, Old Deuteronomy, in the CGI fur developed especially for the film.
The cast also included Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden and Ian McKellen. Cats is streaming on NOW TV and on Sky Cinema now.
Blithe Spirit, a Sky Original film, is only on Sky Cinema from 15th January 2021. Watch a clip below.