Dame Judi Dench discusses vision loss and career with People magazine while promoting The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Also mentioned is how to fan on a red carpet.
Dame Judi Dench candidly opened up in the latest issue of People magazine about losing her vision.
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The actress lives with macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness, and admitted the disease can create unintentional problems while doing her job. But the 80-year-old searched and found solutions. While most movie scripts use a small typeface, she uses enlarged text to read over a script.
Describing the size of the script, she jokes "They'd think, 'why does she have a bigger part?' when it's all the same!" Showcasing a good sense of humor at the 2012 diagnosis, the English actress gracefully accepts the changes.
Asked if she’s worried about the chance of her daughter—42-year-old actress Finty Williams—getting the disease, she’s more introspective. “I think she probably ought to go sooner rather than later to have her eyes checked out. I don't think you automatically have it.” A little worry is natural for a mother, especially with a family history. After all, both Dench and her mother contracted the disease.
There are other limitations to the disease, though. As an artist, the condition can be rather challenging to work around at times. “I paint a lot and now I find it very, very difficult because if I look at something and then look back here, my eyes don't adjust quickly enough to actually transfer that.”
It’s hard to paint a world that eyes no longer “translate,” in a way that “only way you can” but still let others understand. The change in visual systems means an adaptation of the world see and documented.
But don’t think she’s helpless. “My eyes only affect me if I'm somewhere dark and there are steps and I don't see very well.”
And contrary to rumors, retirement isn't in the cards, either.
Currently promoting The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dench offered a quick illustration of the world she sees now. “I couldn't go on the [London] Underground now without somebody because I couldn't work a machine. I can't see to do it. But fortunately, I get somebody to come with me – ask any of my friends or family. I'm not going to make it something that's going to stop me.”
Spanning both portrayals by Pierce Bronson and Daniel Craig, audiences were shocked at M.’s death. The York native ended the role in 2012’s Skyfall, much the chagrin of worldwide fans. After seven films, she became something of a legend and visibly broke up the on-screen, testosterone-filled boys’ club.
In a 2012 interview with the Associated Press, she said the experience was a blast. “It's extremely nice to get a go in the field, as it were, and get a bit of the action. It made me feel very grown-up. It's not just the fellas who are spinning about and shooting guns – I get a go.”
One of M’s most famous lines happened in 1995’s Goldeneye, when M. very firmly establishes the direction the relationship will be going when he mistakes her for a lesser-level employee. "Good, because I think you're a sexist, misogynist dinosaur.”
M. also very clearly states that the relationship will not be anything more than professional. “A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to the young lady I sent out to evaluate you.”
Being the woman bossing around Bond is an experience many females fans would love to have. But just because she’s done being M. doesn’t mean she’s done in film. After all, she earned an Oscar for 1998’s Shakespeare in Love, has played countless Shakespeare characters, and even wanted to be a production designer once upon a time.
And she’s since been in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) and Oscar-nominated Philomena (2013). She’s also just finished completed work on Justin Chadwick’s Tulip Fever, playing the Abbess of St. Ursula, and is filming as The Narrator in Simon Pickup’s Schadenfreude (2016).
Several decades ago she even directed Kenneth Branagh in a U.K. tour of Much Ado About Nothing. He credits the time as the inspiration for the opening scenes in his 1993 film adaptation. As the reigning king of Hollywood Shakespeare, that’s pretty high praise.
Judi Dench has multiple Oscar nominations, a career offering the chance to pick the best roles, and an adaptability to whatever life throws at her. Somehow, the changing scale of how she sees doesn’t seem to end anything—only provide a new beginning with a new horizon.
Also, please fans, don't worry about being star stuck when happen to bump into her. "You're exactly the same person and behave the same. No curtsying, no bowing!" Being a dame doesn't mean she's any different than before the honor bestowed in 1988.
Plus, she'll completely understand. Even a career spanning six decades, it's easy to get excited when meeting a star or two. The People article notes Judi and daughter Finty can be found making their own little comments on the red carpet, too. In other words: fan encounters are always thrilling, no matter who’s the giddy one.
"We're always "oh, look at that!' 'over there!' We don't behave in grown up ways at all." See? Celebs are just like us. And when “Antonio Banderas came up to ask Finty for a light – well, I thought she was going to disappear into the ground! Shaking, shaking!"
Recently speaking to Stylist magazine, an encounter with Jack Nicholson seemed to leave the star a little breathless—even with over 55 awards and credits to her name, the little vote of oh-my-god never leaves her vocabulary.
“You know how, in your mind, these famous actors are always huge – they’re vast – well he wasn’t actually that tall. But I was still completely bowled over. I got a bit silly; like a teenager.” She continued, “I had just presented an award and he walked past and said, ‘Good job, Jude.’ I pretended to be all suave and worldly but actually I was like a jelly inside.”
Even the best of actors get excited when acknowledged. In the article, she offers advice on how to break rules and not lose who you are. Some of the best tips? Never fall out of love with life, never stopped being surprised by things (like encounters with famous), and always strive to be better.
Awards, bestowed titles…all that matters is being who you are, regardless of station. And Judi Dench absolutely remains confident in who she is. Something M. would very much approve of.
Read the full interview in People magazine, out on stands now.
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Sources: Associated Press, People, Stylist