Dench meets her distant relatives
Dame Judi Dench has revealed she was introduced to distant members of her family as she filmed a new movie about tracing long-lost relatives.
The Oscar-winning actress stars in Philomena, the true story of a woman's search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption in the 1950s by the nuns who ran an Irish convent where she gave birth.
As she filmed the movie in Northern Ireland she said she was introduced to cousins she did not know even existed when they dropped by to watch.
Dame Judi, 78, revealed: "All my relations are from Dublin, or from Ballinasloe in the West. I found out when we went to Rostrevor to film in Northern Ireland and we did some shots, a man came up to me and said, 'You know you've got cousins in this town - and they're coming up to see you any minute!'
"I'm sorry we didn't go to a lot more places, we could have found a lot more cousins. That was good."
She did not give any further details about her new-found family as she spoke at a press conference in London today to launch the film, which receives its premiere tonight.
Dame Judi also told how difficult it had been to watch her performance with the real Philomena Lee - who inspired the film - sitting right next to her.
The actress met up with her before beginning work on the film, and admitted she felt a responsibility to tell the story properly.
"It's a job of work, you have to get on," insisted Dame Judi, who is known to millions around the world for her role as M in the James Bond movies.
"I met her before - I had an essence of what she was like and she made me laugh a huge amount. Then you just have to get on with the business of just telling the story. You just have to concentrate on that.
"But the most traumatic thing for me was when we had the wrap party. We were all sitting around and I was talking to Philomena and then they suddenly said, 'Here's a bit of the film.' And Philomena was sitting next to me with her hand on my shoulder and we were watching this thing.
"I can't remember anything about that bit of film, all I remember is when the little boy came on I heard her say 'Ah God love him, look at him'. And I was terribly aware of her hand on my shoulder because this is somebody's personal story and you don't want to under-dramatise it and you don't want to over-dramatise it, you just want to be true to it. So that is the responsibility I felt."
The film, directed by Stephen Frears, was co-written by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, who co-stars as journalist Martin Sixsmith who helped Lee in her attempt to track down her son.