Belfast Telegraph

Frears praises 'magnificent' Dench

Stephen Frears has said working with strong and inspirational women is "the story of my life".

Frears, who directed The Queen starring Helen Mirren, has described his latest leading lady, Dame Judi Dench, as "absolutely magnificent".

Dame Judi plays the title character Philomena in Frears's upcoming film based on the story of an Irish woman's search for her son. He was taken away from her decades ago after she was forced to live in a convent due to falling pregnant.

The film, set to be screened at the Toronto and Venice film festivals, is a "peculiar mix of tragedy and romantic comedy", said Frears. But he is unsure how it will be received.

"I have not the first idea, not a clue," he said, adding: "I'm really pleased, and Judi is absolutely magnificent."

Frears was speaking at an event looking ahead to Britain's contributions to the international film festivals, and when it was pointed out to him that he had a tendency to work with inspirational and strong women, he said with a smile: "The story of my life."

Talking about Dame Judi's portrayal of Philomena, he said: "Well, she's very, very good. I mean, really fantastic.

"She's one of these people that prefers working to not working, and she took it very seriously without being pompous.

"She always takes her responsibilities very seriously."

The High Fidelity director had praise for Steve Coogan who also stars in the film, saying: "He's great. He's really terrific." The Alpha Papa star played his part in bringing fun to the set, but Frears said: "Well, he was working with Judi so he had to behave himself."

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