Idris Elba Is Channeling Jack Nicholson for His Role as a Feline in the New Cats Musical Film

Idris Elba had a role model in mind for his character in the upcoming Cats film.

The 46-year-old actor opened up to Vanity Fair about taking on the role of Macavity in the Tom Hooper-directed musical film, which also stars Taylor Swift.

“The myth is that cats have nine lives and [Macavity] has one left,” Elba said. “So he’s desperate to be acknowledged, and he’s slightly unhinged, and he’s obviously met death a few times and gotten past it.”

He added, “The character has complexities, and I think Tom Hooper wanted someone who could pull off that stuff — meanwhile singing and dancing and meowing.”

So, who did Elba look to when channeling Macavity? None other than Jack Nicholson, Hooper told the magazine.

“[Nicholson] has that ability to be scary and comedic and unpredictable in the same moment,” Hooper said.

Besides being an actor, Elba is also a well-known DJ although he said, “I’m not a singer.”

“I’ve made music with singing. I’m musical,” Elba explained. “I’m an actor. I’ve never done it before, so I thought, why not.”

Hooper told the magazine while Elba appeared calm and collected about the role, he was excited.

“It turned out he had always had a dream of being in a musical, which I didn’t know,” Hooper said. “So Idris got his dream. And he got his dream with Taylor Swift.”

Filming for Cats began in November and also stars Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat and Laurie Davidson and James Corden.

The musical features a group of cats who must make an annual decision on which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer.

In May, Swift revealed on set secrets while on The Graham Norton Show, saying, “I had much more fun than anyone else.”

“I had to go to cat school to learn how to move and behave,” Swift said of filming. “I was meant to go for three days and I stayed for four months!”

Cats is set for a Dec. 20 release.

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