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Judi Dench - Idol Chatter
Judi Dench - Idol Chatter

WELL, DAME DENCH, IT SEEMS THAT IDOL CHATTER IS SERVING UP NOTHING BUT KNIGHTS AND DAMES THESE DAYS SO
You’ll have to bow then. And kiss people’s boots. (laughs)

GLADLYTHOUGH MAGGIE SMITH DID ONCE TELL ME THAT YOU CLAIMED, REGARDING YOUR DAMEHOOD, “I FEEL THE SAMEI STILL SAY RUDE THINGS AND SWEAR A LOT.”
(big laugh) I’m afraid so, yes! It makes no difference to your demeanor in the slightest, really. And, of course, it means another thing entirely in America. It’s much nicer, ‘dame,’ in America. I think I’m more the American kind of dame.

ACTUALLY, WE GET A BIT OF THAT IN MRS.HENDERSON, THE TRUE STORY OF A BORED, WIDOWED SOCIALITE IN THE 1930’S WHO OPENS LONDON’S FIRST THEATRE FEATURING NUDE REVUES. AND SPEAKING OF NUDITY, PLEASE, *PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE DAY THAT CO-STAR, BOB HOSKINS, DID HIS FULL FRONTAL SHOT IN THE FILM.
He was so brave! (laughs) We came in and [director] Stephen Frears was saying “No, no, no, don’t take off any of

your clothes yet, let’s plan it out.” Suddenly I glanced sideways, and said, “Do look.” And there was Bob be-calmly just taking his clothes off, leaning against the set. Oh, just exquisite! I think he was very excited.

AND THOUGH YOU DECLINED TO JOIN IN THE ECDYSIASTICAL FUN, YOU ARE THE RARE DAME WHO CAN CALL HERSELF A BOND GIRL.
Isn’t it thrilling?! I love being ‘M’ and having very nice clothes and sitting in an office with a lot of gadgets that it looks as if I can work. Though I’m never on exotic locations with the films—no, they keep me in a shed.

AT LEAST YOU’RE IN THERE WITH ‘M’’S TRADEMARK GLASS OF BOURBON.
Pretend bourbon. Pretend.

FOR THE UPCOMING CAMINO ROYALE DEMAND THE REAL THING.
I definitely think that’s what I should do.

YOU KNOW, YOUR PRESS LED ME TO BELIEVE THAT YOU WERE EQUAL PARTS DEVOTED QUAKER GIRL AND PASSIONATE WILD WOMAN, BUT NOW I’M THINKING—
Probably not so much on the Quaker, more on the wild girl? (laughs) Well, I’m quite a wild girl.

WHICH IS A KICK SEEING AS HOW YOUR FILM PERSONA IS THAT OF STUFFIER-THAN-THOU ROYALTY LIKE QUEEN VICTORIA IN 1996’S MRS. BROWN AND YOUR OSCAR-WINNING ELIZABETH I IN 1997’S SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.
The funny thing is people think I’ve played a huge amount of queens, but I haven’t: I’ve only played Elizabeth and Victoria and Cleopatra [which she played onstage during her almost 50-year, primary career as a West End superstar].

NEVERTHELESS, JOHN MADDEN, BOTH OF THOSE FILM’S DIRECTOR, HAS DECLARED OF YOU, “I THINK IN A LOT OF PEOPLE’S EYES SHE’S THE EQUIVALENT OF THE QUEEN.”
(hoots) You can be beheaded for that.

BUT YOU REALLY ARE REVERED AS THIS TOWERING ACTING ICON. SO HOW DO YOU CALM AWESTRUCK CO-STARS LIKE, SAY, KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, IN THE JUST-OUT PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?
It’s just to do with being part of the company and all having the same work to do and nobody’s grander than anybody else. You see, acting is what I do—it’s what brings me into contact with people which is the thing I like best. Because I’m not good at my own company. In fact, my husband used to say that I only liked being in a theatre company ‘cause I’m so nosy. And I am—I like to know what goes on. (laughs)

SO DO YOU TURN FILM COMPANIES INTO FAUX THEATRE COMPANIES?
That’s hard, because you’re not all together much. But, for instance, on Mrs. Brown we were like a company, because we only had 30 days to do it—it started life as television and it was only thanks to Harvey Weinstein that it landed-up as a film.

YES, WITH MR. WEINSTEIN HAVING RELEASED MRS. BROWN, ALONG WITH CHOCOLAT, IRIS, THE SHIPPING NEWS, AND NOW MRS. HENDERSON, I’M THINKING YOU’RE NEITHER MRS. HENDERSON, NOR, MRS. BROWN, YOU’RE REALLY…..MRS. WEINSTEIN.
Oh, yes. Don’t tell his new wife, will you?

WHAT’S STORMY HARVEY DONE THAT’S MADE YOU LAUGH?
It made me laugh when I told him that I had his name tattooed on my bum—and then showed him at lunch at Four Seasons (giggles)

HUH?!
It was painted on by my makeup lady.

LAST QUESTION, YOU HUSSY. YOU’RE 71 AND NEVER STOP WORKING. GONNA ACT FOREVER?
‘Til I fall off the bow.

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