Even Idris Elba Doesn't Understand The Plot Of 'Cats' -- And He's In It

by Cassandra Stone
YouTube/The Late Show

If Idris Elba can’t even get the plot straight, what hope is there for the rest of us?

If you’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming live-action Cats movie, then you know it’s truly unforgettable for a variety of reasons. The movie will star James Corden, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, and Idris Elba, to name a few. Speaking of the latter, even though Elba stars in the film, he can’t quite articulate what exactly the movie is about — kind of like the rest of us.

During an appearance with Stephen Colbert on Monday night’s The Late Show, Idris Elba (who plays the role of Macavity, the “Mystery Cat”) was asked about the history of the musical. And his FACE after he’s asked is just…well, see for yourself (around the 5:00 mark).

“It’s a classic,” he tries to explain. “It’s a big musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I guess it’s about a cat? How am I doing?”

LOL. This is everything. So far, so good. Now — onto the nitty gritty.

“It’s one cat’s journey towards what is essentially Cat Heaven,” he continues. “The idea is we all… you know, we aspire to get towards Cat Heaven. It’s this young cat… and she gets sort of… you know… taken on this story about how to get to Cat Heaven. Or what you should do to get into Cat Heaven. How am I doing? Does anyone know what the story is?!”

To be fair, I have seen the musical. And as a lifelong Theater Person™ who has enjoyed and even starred in a production or two, I have no qualms about admitting that Cats is the first and only musical I can recall ever wanting to abandon at intermission (The Music Man comes in at a close second, sorry not sorry).

Because Cats? It’s BONKERS. Absolutely bananas. Let’s just say the people who created it were on a plane of drugs that must be unattainable for the average person, or no longer exists.

If you haven’t seen it and aren’t familiar with the story, here are the basics: It’s about a group of stray cats who live in a junkyard on the night of something called the Jellicle Ball (and they mention the word “jellicle” at minimum 857 times), at which one cat will be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside layer to start a new life.

It’s comprised of a zillion cat characters introducing themselves over and over again until 2.5 hours passes by or everyone passes out in exhaustion — whichever comes first, really. The movie appears to feature a lot of human cats that look extremely nude (in human form) but are still cats? I don’t know. It’s uncomfortable and impossible to purge from your nightmares.

The best thing that can be said about the production, arguably, is that “Memory” is a classic song that deserves to be respected. And Jennifer Hudson unsurprisingly but beautifully nails it in the trailer, so there’s that. And we got to die laughing listening to Idris Elba attempt to make sense of it all. Bless.