Dame Judi Dench said she has not yet watched Cats, and has ignored the withering critical response to the film.
The veteran actress, who plays Old Deuteronomy in the big screen adaptation of the stage musical, said she had only seen a still image of herself in the role.
The Tom Hooper-directed feature used “digital fur technology” to transform actors into animals.
Dame Judi compared her appearance in the film to a “wonderful show cat” and said she had expected to look like a “really clapped out old, mangy old” animal.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, she said: “No, I haven’t seen it. I didn’t read anything about the response to it, nor have I seen it, and I’ve only seen a picture of myself.
“I once had a cat like that called Carpet – I didn’t realise I was playing Carpet, I thought I was playing a really clapped out old, mangy old cat who didn’t have much fur.
“I didn’t realise I was this wonderful show cat.”
Ahead of a 13-night “in conversation” event in London, the actress reflected on her 60-year career in an interview with broadcaster John Wilson.
She said the “radical reinvention” of Shakespeare by some contemporary writers could be a positive thing as long as it did not obscure the play’s meaning.
“I think that radical reinvention is very good indeed as long as the play is understood and as long as what is decided on doesn’t muddy the actual tale he was trying to tell,” she said.
“I don’t know. Perhaps you should come away and think: ‘Oh it’s a very good idea having Bottom played by a woman’. Perhaps you should.
“There never have been enough parts for women and I think it’s excellent that that should be considered.
“But I don’t want it muddied so I suddenly think ‘Why is that a woman?’ or ‘What does that do to another relationship?’”
Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio 4 at 7.15pm on Thursday.