43 Fast Facts About Field of Dreams

Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner star as Annie and Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams (1989).
Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner star as Annie and Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

If you have seen Field of Dreams, you likely have a strong opinion on it. While some are moved by its fantastical and heartfelt story of personal redemption, others dismiss it as maudlin and silly, or a "male weepie at its wussiest," as Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine once infamously put it. Either way you look at it, the Oscar-nominated movie—which made its debut on May 5, 1989—is still being talked about 30 years after its release.

1. Field of Dreams was based on a book called Shoeless Joe.

Field of Dreams writer-director Phil Alden Robinson had loved W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe since the book was first published in 1982. Despite 20th Century Fox's repeated insistence through the years that the story wasn't commercial enough to be adapted into a movie, Robinson continued working on a script for it. Eventually Robinson and producers Lawrence and Charles Gordon sold the screenplay to Universal.

2. Shoeless Joe evolved from a short story.

Ray Liotta in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Ray Liotta stars as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

Before Shoeless Joe, there was “Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa,” a 20-page short story that W.P. Kinsella penned for an anthology. When Larry Kessenich—an editor at Houghton Mifflin—read the synopsis, he contacted Kinsella and convinced him to turn the premise into a full-length novel. “I wrote back to say I would need guidance, as I had published four collections of short stories but had never written a publishable novel," Kinsella said.

3. It took W.P. Kinsella just nine months to write the book.

While Shoeless Joe may have been Kinsella's first novel, he finished it rather quickly. With Kessenich’s help, this new extended version of the story was completed in the span of nine months.

4. Phil Alden Robinson was upset that the studio wouldn’t let him use the title Shoeless Joe.

When Field of Dreams was first shown to test audiences, it was using the title Shoeless Joe. Audiences said it reminded them of a hobo. With trepidation, Robinson called Kinsella to tell him that the movie's name was being changed to Field of Dreams. Kinsella was ok with it, as one of his own ideas for his book's title was The Dream Field. It was apparently his publisher who pushed for Shoeless Joe.

5. A few characters from Shoeless Joe were omitted from the Field of Dreams script.

In the Shoeless Joe novel, we’re introduced Eddie “Kid” Scissions, the previous owner of Ray’s farm. An elderly Iowan, Scissons claims to be the “oldest living Chicago Cub,” but soon enough, Ray learns he never even suited up for the team. “It was a wonderful subplot,” Robinson said, “[but] we couldn’t find room for it.” Another character cut out of Robinson’s screenplay was Richard Kinsella, Ray’s identical twin brother.

6. In the book, J.D. Salinger was the author Ray Kinsella tries to kidnap.

W.P. Kinsella's real original title for his book was The Kidnapping of J.D. Salinger. Studio executives, however, were afraid that bad publicity from Salinger's threats to file a lawsuit would harm them, so the character of Terence Mann was created instead.

7. Ray Kinsella was named after a J.D. Salinger character.

A photo of J.D. Salinger
Wikimedia Commons

W.P. Kinsella insists he didn't just put his own last name as Ray's and call it a day. Kinsella was a last name Salinger used in two stories: Richard Kinsella was an annoying classmate of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher In the Rye, and Ray Kinsella was a character in the short story A Young Girl in 1941 With No Waist at All. The idea was for a Salinger creation to appear in front of his creator and take him to a ballgame.

8. An outfield fence was considered, but never built, for Field of Dreams.

Here’s another difference between Kinsella’s novel and its Hollywood adaptation. “In the book, there’s a fence with a door in it that separates the ball field from the corn field, and we had done drawings of walls and fences” Robinson explained in a discussion with sportswriters Stephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus. “I asked, ‘Why would he build a fence?’ and then the corn became the wall.”

9. Kevin Costner wasn't initially considered for Field of Dreams because he had just starred in Bull Durham.

Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham (1988)
Tim Robbins and Kevin Costner face off in Bull Durham (1988).
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Kevin Costner was the first actor to come to Robinson's mind to play Ray, but he had just starred in Bull Durham, another baseball movie. A Universal executive got Costner to read the script anyway, and he decided to do it because he felt it would be akin to It's a Wonderful Life.

10. W.P. Kinsella and his wife almost appeared in Field of Dreams.

Kinsella and his wife were in the crowd for a scene of a PTA meeting, which was shot at a gymnasium in Farley, Iowa. “My wife and I were part of the audience at the PTA scene,” Kinsella later said. “We were trapped there for a full day of sweltering retakes, and we never appeared in the final cut.”

11. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras in Field of Dreams.

Damon was 17 years old and Affleck turned 16 during the summer of 1988, when the film shot on location for the scenes in Fenway Park. More than a decade later Affleck would star in Robinson's The Sum of All Fears; on the first day of shooting, he reportedly told Robinson: "Nice working with you again."

12. There’s a Watergate Easter egg in Field of Dreams.

A portrait of 37th president Richard Nixon
Keystone/Getty Images

While walking through the streets of Chisholm, Minnesota, Ray spots a campaign poster for Richard Nixon in a storefront window. Guess what’s on display right behind it? An assortment of tape recorders. “I thought that was so clever, but in the film print you can’t actually see [the recorders],” Robinson said in 2013. However, they’re clear as day in digital editions of the movie.

13. The person who voiced "The Voice" that spoke to Ray in Field of Dreams remains a mystery.

For years it was rumored that the voiced belonged to Ray Liotta, who played Shoeless Joe Jackson. Kinsella wrote that he was told it was actually Ed Harris, Amy Madigan's husband (Madigan played Ray's wife, Annie).

"What’s funny is that a few people who thought they knew have revealed it and gotten it wrong," Robinson said in June 2019. "I’ll read people saying, ‘Well I happen to know that it’s so-and-so,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh no, it’s not!’ We’ll let that remain a secret. It’s a great mystery, and I like that.” The Voice is officially credited as being played by Himself.

14. A deleted scene from Field of Dreams sees Ray getting his hearing checked.

Before Ray starts obeying the mysterious voice that's speaking to him, he tries to find a logical explanation for it. “I … had a scene in which he goes to an ear doctor to have his hearing checked,” Robinson told Deadline. Ultimately, this footage wound up on the cutting room floor.

15. People regularly misquote Field of Dreams’s most famous line.

The actual quote is: "If you build it, he will come," not "If you build it, they will come." It's a common mistake. The line was ranked number 39 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time.

16. The grass was painted green for Field of Dreams.

Filmed on an actual cornfield-turned-baseball diamond in Dyersville, Iowa, a season-long drought led to the need for some cosmetic touch-ups. The dying grass was coated with some green vegetable dye and latex turf paint.

17. James Earl Jones's wife told him his "people will come" speech would never make the final cut.

It was James Earl Jones's wife who convinced him to accept the role of Terence Mann in the first place, though she warned him that the "long speech about baseball will never be in the film, it'll be on the cutting-room floor."

18. James Earl Jones reunited with a former Broadway co-star while shooting Field of Dreams.

Back in 1958, Jones made his Broadway debut in a stage production of Sunrise at Campobello. One of his castmates in that show was Anne Seymour, who portrays the Chisolm newspaperwoman in Field of Dreams. This was to be her last role, as she died shortly before the movie’s release. “It was nice to have that moment with Anne,” Jones told the Des Moines Register in 2019.

19. Moonlight Graham is a real person.

Kinsella used Archibald Moonlight Graham's real life story for his book, with the exception that the real Graham's lone major league game took place on June 1905, not on the last day of the 1922 season like Burt Lancaster's character in the film. The author found Graham's name in a baseball encyclopedia he received as a Christmas gift and decided the name was better than anything he could ever come up with on his own. In real life, Graham became the beloved town doctor of Chisholm, Minnesota after answering a newspaper ad.

20. Moonlight Graham’s on-screen uniform in Field of Dreams is a little anachronistic.

Late in the film, a young Graham takes the field in an orange and black New York Giants jersey. This isn’t quite period-accurate: The Giants didn’t start wearing those uniform colors until 1933—long after Graham’s MLB career wrapped up.

21. Jimmy Stewart was the first choice to play Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams.

Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchock's 'Rear Window' (1954)
Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchock's Rear Window (1954).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Jimmy Stewart passed on the role. Burt Lancaster himself initially didn't "get it," but a friend convinced by him to take the part. In Roger Ebert's four-star review of the movie, he said Field of Dreams was "the kind of movie Frank Capra might have directed and James Stewart might have starred in."

22. Field of Dreams quotes Moonlight Graham’s actual obituary.

When the real Graham died in 1965, Veda Ponikvar—the founder of the Chisolm Free Press and Tribune—wrote a stirring tribute. “There were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or clothing,” noted Ponikvar at the time. “Yet no child was ever denied these essentials because in the background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the tickets to the ballgame found their way into the child’s pocket.” In Field of Dreams, Anne Seymour recites those lines word-for-word.

23. Field of Dreams was Burt Lancaster's last film to play in theaters.

Oscar-winning actor Burt Lancaster was 74 years old during the filming of Field of Dreams. After a couple of TV movie jobs, Lancaster retired from acting. He passed away in 1994.

24. Field of Dreams was Gaby Hoffmann's first movie.

Kevin Costner, Gaby Hoffmann, and Burt Lancaster in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Kevin Costner, Gaby Hoffmann, and Burt Lancaster in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

Gaby Hoffmann, the daughter of Andy Warhol superstar Viva Auder Hoffmann and soap actor Anthony Herrera, played Ray's daughter Karin at age six. More recently, you may have seen her in Transparent or Girls.

25. The filming schedule for Field of Dreams was based on the height of the corn.

The corn had to be Kevin Costner's height (he's listed as 6'1") or taller when the voice first spoke to him. With a thumbs up from the state of Iowa, filmmakers dammed a nearby creek to make sure the corn had enough water. It worked almost too well; when Costner first hears "If you build it, he will come," he had to walk onto a foot-high platform. Just in case the creek damming failed, fake corn was on standby to be shipped in from Asia.

26. Field of Dreams’s corn-based schedule upset the powers-that-be on another Kevin Costner movie.

Production on Tony Scott's Revenge was repeatedly postponed while Costner and the cast and crew of Field of Dreams were working with the vegetation. A producer threatened to sue the actor, until it was agreed that Costner would start work on Revenge two days after Field of Dreams wrapped. Revenge ended up making less than $16 million at the box office, while Field of Dreams raked in more than $64 million.

27. Field of Dreams’s composer James Horner was moved to tears by a rough cut of the film.

A still from 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Universal Pictures

Before composer James Horner, the musical maestro behind Titanic and Braveheart, agreed to score Field of Dreams, Robinson gave him a private test-screening. “He came to look at it at an early stage,” Robinson said on a DVD bonus feature. “We showed him the film and when the lights came up, he got up and left the room.” At first, Robinson was crestfallen, thinking Horner must’ve hated the film. But a few moments later, the Oscar-winning composer—who passed away in 2015—came back “very teary-eyed” and agreed to take the job.

28. Field of Dreams star Ray Liotta has never seen the movie.

Though Ray Liotta has been told that Field of Dreams is a great movie, he has yet to see it for himself. Liotta's mother was ill while they were filming the movie, which he mentally associates with the movie.

29. Ray Liotta thought the Field of Dreams script was "silly."

Frank Whaley and Ray Liotta in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Frank Whaley and Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

It was only after the actor read the script a couple more times and read the book Shoeless Joe that it made more sense to him.

30. Former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux was a consultant on Field of Dreams.

The USC Trojans men’s baseball team claimed 11 national championships under Dedaux, who passed away in 2006. While Field of Dreams was in production, he and Don Buford (a major league veteran) helped the actors refine their playing skills. Some of them didn’t need much assistance: According to ESPN’s Jeff Merron, Dedeaux thought Costner “would’ve been good enough to play at USC.”

31. Ray Liotta couldn't hit left-handed well enough for Field of Dreams.

Shoeless Joe Jackson hit lefty and threw righty, but in the movie Liotta plays him as a right-handed batter. Liotta trained with professional baseball coaches for one month to hit left-handed like his character, but it wasn't good enough for the director Robinson. Liotta claimed Robinson said it was okay if the batting wasn't historically accurate, though to this day the actor regrets not finding a way to make it work.

32. Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ty Cobb were on friendly terms in real life.

Ty Cobb & Joe Jackson standing alongside each other, each holding bats
Ty Cobb and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Louis Van Oeyen, Library of Congress // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Despite being one of the first inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Detroit Tigers legend Tyrus “Ty” Cobb never shows up at Ray’s magical park. “None of us could stand the son of a bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it,” Shoeless Joe says in the film. Yet the two players actually liked each other. Once, after they had both retired, Cobb told Shoeless Joe, “I’ll tell you how well I remember you … Whenever I thought I was a good hitter, I’d stop and take a good look at you. Then I knew I could stand some improvement.” By all accounts, Jackson was visibly touched.

33. W.P. Kinsella described watching Field of Dreams get made as “colossal boredom.”

Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner star as Annie and Ray Kinsella in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Amy Madigan and Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

"Colossal boredom" was how Kinsella described Iowa in the summer of 1988. The author said his daughter had more fun, because she was involved in "a little romance" with Liotta.

34. W.P. Kinsella gave Field of Dreams four out of five stars.

It lost a potentially perfect rating because Kinsella didn't think Timothy Busfield's Mark was villainous enough, nor that Gaby Hoffmann looked like Ray and Annie's child.

35. A few months before he retired, Vin Scully read Terrence Mann’s iconic speech from Field of Dreams.

Scully started calling Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950. For the next 67 years, the broadcaster stayed with the club, covering its relocation to Los Angeles, all six of the franchise’s World Series championships to date, and almost 10,000 games overall. On May 26, 2016—during his last season in the announcer’s booth—Scully tugged at fans’ heartstrings by reciting the classic “People will come” monologue from Field of Dreams in a viral MLB video.

36. In order to make the final scene in Field of Dreams work, the citizens of Dyersville, Iowa agreed to a town-wide blackout.

In order to film the movie's final scene, 3000 Iowa residents in 1500 cars agreed to take part. There was a forced blackout in the town of Dyersville, Iowa, which included other baseball games and the local train. The director's instructions were broadcast on a local radio station. One was for the drivers to flash their high beams off and on as they drove to make it look as if there was more movement than there actually was.

37. Dwier Brown, who played Kevin Costner’s father in Field of Dreams, worried he would drop the ball during their seminal game of catch.

The scene in which Ray plays catch with his father had to be shot during magic hour, 15 minutes after sunset, which gave little room for error for actor Dwier Brown, who was working with a rock-hard, vintage catcher's mitt. He is proud of the fact that he never dropped it.

38. Dwier Brown shot Field of Dreams right after his own father's funeral.

He got back in time to play catch with Costner. It helped him access the necessary emotions.

39. To celebrate Field of Dreams’s 25th anniversary, Kevin Costner and his sons played catch at the now-iconic field.

Costner tossed a ball around with his sons Hayes and Cayden on June 13, 2014. (At the times, the boys were ages 5 and 7, respectively.) This was part of a three-day festival which included an on-site screening of the film, a Q&A panel hosted by Bob Costas, and a concert featuring Costner’s own band, Modern West.

40. The owner of the farm featured in Field of Dreams proposed to his wife on the baseball field.

The 'Field of Dreams' baseball field
Universal Pictures

Don Lansing met his wife Becky on New Year's Eve 1995 when she made a pilgrimage to visit the baseball field from Field of Dreams. When he proposed marriage, he did so on first base.

41. The field still attracts approximately 100,000 visitors per year.

When Don and Becky Lansing put the property up for sale in 2010, it was purchased by Go the Distance Baseball, an organization that made the property even more accessible to visitors and fans of the movie with a regular roster of special events. Today, 30 years after the movie's original release, an estimated 100,000 people make the trek to visit the baseball field each year.

42. You can rent the Field of Dreams farmhouse—and baseball field.

James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner in 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams (1989).
Universal Pictures

In 2018, Go the Distance Baseball partnered with Booking.com to make spending the night in the farmhouse featured in Field of Dreams a reality. Guests can book stays of one night or longer. And while they'll have to share the field with the tourists during the hours it's open to the public, you're welcome to have your own private picnic in centerfield once the crowds clear out.

43. The White Sox and Yankees will play one regular-season game near the “Field of Dreams” site in 2020.

Scheduled for August 13, 2020, this’ll be the first Major League Baseball game ever played in Iowa. For the big event, a temporary 8,000-seat stadium will go up next to the park where Field of Dreams was shot. The White Sox have been designated as the “home” team.

The 11 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story (2019).
Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story (2019).
Wilson Webb/Netflix

With thousands of titles available, browsing your Netflix menu can feel like a full-time job. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at our picks for the 11 best movies on Netflix right now.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man may be in the middle of a Disney and Sony power struggle, but that didn't stop this ambitious animated film from winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Academy Awards. Using a variety of visual style choices, the film tracks the adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who discovers he's not the only Spider-Man in town.

2. Hell or High Water (2016)

Taylor Sheridan's Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who take to bank robberies in an effort to save their family ranch from foreclosure; Jeff Bridges is the drawling, laconic lawman on their tail.

3. Raging Bull (1980)

Robert De Niro takes on the life of pugilist Jake LaMotta in a landmark and Oscar-winning film from Martin Scorsese that frames LaMotta's violent career in stark black and white. Joe Pesci co-stars.

4. Marriage Story (2019)

Director Noah Bambauch drew raves for this deeply emotional drama about a couple (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson) whose uncoupling takes a heavy emotional and psychological toll on their family.

5. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy ended a brief sabbatical from filmmaking following a mixed reception to 2016's Mr. Church with this winning biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, a flailing comedian who finds success when he reinvents himself as Dolemite, a wisecracking pimp. When the character takes off, Moore produces a big-screen feature with a crew of inept collaborators.

6. The Lobster (2015)

Colin Farrell stars in this black comedy that feels reminiscent of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's work: A slump-shouldered loner (Farrell) has just 45 days to find a life partner before he's turned into an animal. Can he make it work with Rachel Weisz, or is he doomed to a life on all fours? By turns absurd and provocative, The Lobster isn't a conventional date movie, but it might have more to say about relationships than a pile of Nicholas Sparks paperbacks.

7. Flash of Genius (2008)

Greg Kinnear stars in this drama based on a true story about inventor Robert Kearns, who revolutionized automobiles with his intermittent windshield wiper. Instead of getting rich, Kearns is ripped off by the automotive industry and engages in a years-long battle for recognition.

8. Locke (2013)

The camera rarely wavers from Tom Hardy in this existential thriller, which takes place entirely in Hardy's vehicle. A construction foreman trying to make sure an important job is executed well, Hardy's Ivan Locke grapples with some surprising news from a mistress and the demands of his family. It's a one-act, one-man play, with Hardy making the repeated act of conversing on his cell phone as tense and compelling as if he were driving with a bomb in the trunk.

9. Cop Car (2015)

When two kids decide to take a police cruiser for a joyride, the driver (Kevin Bacon) begins a dogged pursuit. No good cop, he's got plenty to hide.

10. Taxi Driver (1976)

Another De Niro and Scorsese collaboration hits the mark, as Taxi Driver is regularly cited as one of the greatest American films ever made. De Niro is a potently single-minded Travis Bickle, a cabbie in a seedy '70s New York who wants to be an avenging angel for victims of crime. The mercurial Bickle, however, is just as unhinged as those he targets.

11. Sweet Virginia (2017)

Jon Bernthal lumbers through this thriller as a former rodeo star whose career has left him physically broken. Now managing a hotel in small-town Alaska, he stumbles onto a plot involving a murderer-for-hire (Christopher Abbott), upending his quiet existence and forcing him to take action.

The Definitive Guide to All the Cats in Cats

James Corden, Laurie Davidson, and Francesca Hayward star in Tom Hooper's Cats (2019).
James Corden, Laurie Davidson, and Francesca Hayward star in Tom Hooper's Cats (2019).
Universal Pictures

Regardless of whether you were impressed, confused, or downright frightened by the trailer for Tom Hooper’s upcoming film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical Cats, it’s safe to say that the star-studded cast and “digital fur technology” generated strong reactions all around. And, if you didn’t grow up listening to the soundtrack or watching performers in the 1998 film version purr and prance in furry, feline bodysuits, your shock is completely understandable.

Cats is light on plot, heavy on characters, and sprinkled with words that T.S. Eliot made up for his 1939 poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the basis for the musical. To familiarize yourself with all the eccentrically named cats—and find out who’s portraying them in the film—here’s a comprehensive list of every "romantical, pedantical, critical, parasitical, allegorical, metaphorical, statistical, and mystical" cat you’ll meet.

Admetus

admetus cats film 1998
Really Useful Films

Played by: Eric Underwood

Admetus is a ginger and white chorus cat with no spoken lines, but plenty of strong dancing sequences—perfect for former Royal Ballet soloist Eric Underwood. Though some musical productions have renamed Admetus as Plato (both names are mentioned in “The Naming of Cats”), the film will feature them as two separate characters.

Alonzo

Played by: Bluey Robinson

Alonzo is another chorus cat, identifiable by the black patches of fur on his face and the black-and-white stripes on his head. Apart from his ensemble appearances, he has intermittent solo lines and also assists Munkustrap during the fight against Macavity. Since singer/songwriter Bluey Robinson will portray him in the film, it’s possible that Alonzo will dance less than he has in stage productions.

Asparagus, the Theatre Cat

Played by: Sir Ian McKellen

Nicknamed “Gus,” this elderly, trembling tabby has an impressive acting history, which he recounts at length during his song (along with a few disparaging comments about how the theater isn’t what it once was, and kittens these days aren’t properly trained). Who better to play one of the Jellicles’ most well-respected thespians than one of the humans' most well-respected thespians, Sir Ian McKellen?

Bombalurina

Played by: Taylor Swift

Though Bombalurina is only mentioned by name once (in “The Naming of Cats”), she’s pretty hard to miss: the slinky, red-coated cat helps introduce Jennyanydots, the Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella, Bustopher Jones, and Macavity. She most often sings with Demeter, her duet partner for “Macavity the Mystery Cat.”

Bustopher Jones

Played by: James Corden

Known as “the Brummell of cats,” this black-and-white, epicurean dandy frequents gentlemen’s clubs, wears white spats, and weighs a whopping 25 pounds. Jones’s genial manner endears him to just about everyone—not unlike James Corden.

Cassandra

cassandra in 1998's cats film
Really Useful Films

Played by: Mette Towley

With her sleek brown coat and her regal, mysterious manner, Cassandra seems like she might’ve been worshipped by ancient Egyptians in a past life. You might recognize Mette Towley, a member of Pharrell’s dance group, The Baes, from her appearances in 2019’s Hustlers and Rihanna’s “Lemon” music video—and you can be sure that she’ll uphold Cassandra’s legacy as one of the most eye-catching chorus cats.

Coricopat and Tantomile

Played by: Jaih Betote and Zizi Strallen

These striped twin tabby cats always move in unison and boast psychic abilities. Though the roles are sometimes cut from theatrical productions, we’ll get to see them in the film, played by hip hop dancer Jaih Betote and Zizi Strallen, best known for her work as Mary Poppins in the recent West End revival.

Demeter

demeter in 1998's cats film
Really Useful Films

Played by: Daniela Norman

This multicolored, slightly skittish cat usually duets with Bombalurina, and together they perform “Macavity the Mystery Cat” in full. It’s often implied that Demeter has a complicated romantic past with Macavity, who tries to abduct her during his attack. British ballet dancer Daniela Norman will star opposite Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina in the film, and you can also see her in Netflix’s upcoming ballet drama series Tiny Pretty Things.

Grizabella, the Glamour Cat

Played by: Jennifer Hudson

This aging starlet is now decrepit, depressed, and shamefully rejected by the rest of the Jellicles—think Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond with more self-awareness and very raggedy fur. Even if the Cats original cast recording wasn’t the soundtrack for your childhood road trips, you might have heard Grizabella’s song “Memory;” it’s been covered by Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, Glee’s Chris Colfer, and more. American Idol alum (and general ballad-belting powerhouse) Jennifer Hudson will bring her Academy Award-winning talents to the role of Grizabella in the film.

Growltiger and Griddlebone

Played by: Ray Winstone and Melissa Madden Gray

Growltiger, a rough-riding sea captain cat, and Griddlebone, his fluffy white lover, appear during “Growltiger’s Last Stand,” during which Gus reminisces about having played the part of Growltiger in a stage production long ago. The characters have been left out of some productions, including the 1998 film, but Hooper’s version will feature them, where they'll be played by British actor Ray Winstone and Australian performer Melissa Madden Gray (whose stage name, fittingly, is Meow Meow).

Jellylorum

Played by: Freya Rowley

Named after T.S. Eliot’s own cat, Jellylorum is a maternal calico who cares for Gus and also helps introduce Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones. Though sometimes portrayed as older and more mature than some of the other cats, Freya Rowley (who performed as Tantomile on the UK tour of Cats) will likely bring a younger energy to the character.

Jennyanydots, the Old Gumbie Cat

Played by: Rebel Wilson

Jennyanydots is a goofy old tabby cat who lazes around all day and spends her nights teaching the basement vermin various household skills, etiquette, and performing arts. Under her tutelage, the mice learn to crochet, the cockroaches become helpful boy scouts, and the beetles form a tap-dancing troupe. Rebel Wilson is a perfect match for such a multifaceted, eccentric, and amusing gumbie cat (whatever gumbie is).

Macavity, the Mystery Cat

Played by: Idris Elba

The show’s main antagonist is a tall, thin criminal cat with sunken eyes and dusty ginger fur. While the Jellicles are plainly terrified of this “monster of depravity,” they also seem eerily impressed by his ability to elude capture and conviction. Historically, Macavity hasn’t done any speaking, singing, or dancing—he only shows up briefly to kidnap Old Deuteronomy during a rousing cat fight—but here’s hoping that Hooper has broadened the role for the film so we get to hear at least a good growl or two from Idris Elba.

Mr. Mistoffelees

Played by: Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson, who played Shakespeare in TNT’s Will, will take on the role of Mr. Mistoffelees, an affable tuxedo cat who peppers his magic tricks with plenty of high leaps and pizzazz. He’s generally beloved by the rest of the cats, and he also saves the day by conjuring Old Deuteronomy from wherever Macavity had hidden him.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer

Played by: Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan

These two roguish calicos describe themselves as “knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians, tightrope walkers, and acrobats.” They’re also partners in petty crime, notorious for smashing vases, stealing pearls, and generally wreaking havoc upon their posh family in Victoria Grove. British dancer Danny Collins will join Naoimh Morgan—who actually played Rumpleteazer in the Cats international tour—to bring the spirited rascals to life in the film.

Munkustrap

Played by: Robert Fairchild

Without Munkustrap, viewers would have little hope of understanding what’s actually happening in this vaguely plotted musical. Though there’s no song to introduce him, the striking, silver cat is still arguably the most important character: He describes the function of the Jellicle Ball, narrates the action as it unfolds, and leads the charge against Macavity’s attack. It takes a certified musical theater machine to play such an integral part, and Hooper has surely found that in Robert Fairchild, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and Tony Award nominee for An American in Paris.

Old Deuteronomy

Played by: Dame Judi Dench

In the gender-swapped role of our dreams, Dame Judi Dench will play Old Deuteronomy, the revered (usually male) town elder who chooses one lucky kitty at the annual Jellicle Ball to ascend to cat heaven, the Heaviside Layer, and be born again. It isn’t Dench’s first time in the junkyard: She was preparing to appear as both Jennyanydots and Grizabella in the original 1981 West End production of Cats when she snapped her Achilles tendon and had to pull out.

Plato and Socrates

Played by: Larry and Laurent Bourgeois (Les Twins)

Though Plato is a chorus cat mentioned in “The Naming of Cats” and included in some stage productions, Socrates was created specifically for Hooper’s film to make room for both halves of Les Twins, also known as Larry and Laurent Bourgeois. The French hip hop duo gained mainstream recognition after Beyoncé featured them in her 2018 Coachella set and subsequent Netflix concert film Homecoming.

Rum Tum Tugger

Played by: Jason Derulo

The Rum Tum Tugger is a perpetually fickle feline with a lot of rock-n’-roll flair and a pair of hips that he seems to have stolen from Mick Jagger himself. In addition to his own song, Tugger also sings “Mr. Mistoffelees” and features in a few other numbers. With Jason Derulo taking on the role for the film, there’s a good chance we’ll see a modernized, moonwalking version of this swoon-worthy cat.

Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat

Played by: Steven McRae

Skimbleshanks is a charming Scottish cat who looks like a friendly tiger and ensures that all is in order on the night trains, which includes everything from patrolling for mice to reminding the guard to ask passengers how they like their tea. With his flaming red hair and graceful precision, Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae definitely has a couple things in common with his character.

Syllabub/Sillabub/Jemima

Played by: Jonadette Carpio

This kitten’s name varies from production to production, but she’s usually characterized by her playful, innocent manner and her willingness to accept Grizabella when the other Jellicles try to shun her. Jonadette Carpio, Philippines native and member of the all-female Krump crew Buckness Personified, will bring her street dance background to the role in the film.

Victoria

Played by: Francesca Hayward

Though lithe, light-footed Victoria doesn’t sing any lines of her own in the original musical, her gleaming white coat and balletic dance solos still make her a standout—so it’s only fitting that Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward will bring her to life in the film, where the role has been expanded into a main character. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift even collaborated on a new song called “Beautiful Ghosts” that Hayward will sing in the movie.

Miscellaneous Chorus Cats

Because theater companies vary in size and scope, certain chorus cats are sometimes omitted from productions—or members of the ensemble just aren’t assigned specific characters. At this point, Bill Bailey, Carbucketty, Electra, Etcetera, Peter, Pouncival, Quaxo, Rumpus Cat, Tumblebrutus, and Victor are all chorus cat names that haven’t been given to anybody in the film, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see extra cats in the shadows. According to Dance Spirit, Corey John Snide and Kolton Krause, who played Coricopat and Tumblebrutus on Broadway, respectively, have both been cast as ensemble members in Hooper’s film.

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