Belfast Telegraph

Dench wept at demise of spymaster M

Dame Judi Dench has told how she cried when James Bond producers told her that M was being killed off.

The veteran actress played the MI6 chief in seven 007 films but her character met her demise in Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, in 2012.

She told Radio Times magazine that Bond bosses broke the news over a meal in London's West End.

"They told me gently and I laughed through my tears. Seven (Bond) films is a long time. But MI6 would have given her the push by now, don't you think?" she said.

The actress, 80, said that her late husband, actor Michael Williams, encouraged her to sign up for the Bond films.

"He wanted to live with a Bond woman. 'Oh God, oh crikey,' he said, 'you've got to do it. I'm living with a Bond woman!'."

Dame Judi, who stars opposite Hollywood actor Dustin Hoffman in the BBC's adaptation of Roald Dahl's Esio Trot this Christmas, also revealed that she was helping to fund the next generation of aspiring actors.

"I don't know how many letters I get each week, saying, 'Can you sponsor me through drama school?'," she told the magazine.

"There are no reps anywhere any more. There's very little work, young actors have to get something and hope that it's a success.

"They go to an audition and now nobody ever writes afterwards to say, 'It was a terrific meeting, I'm so sorry it hasn't worked out this time.'

"There's a complete silence. What is your encouragement as a young actor? Where do you go to learn? Where do you get to make the mistakes?"

The Philomena star added: "There was a wonderful boy who wrote to me, who has a glorious singing voice, and I sent him some money. I got this wonderful letter back, and I just want to watch him - carefully - to see how he develops.

"I can't send money to everyone. You have to go instinctively. A lot of them say, 'I'm working to raise funds,' and I always think that's a very good sign, if they're working and not just sitting back and waiting for work to fall in their laps."

The Oscar-winner was once told that she did not have the right face for film and said that she still feels "rather self-conscious about how I look".

She said that she disliked being called a national treasure, saying: " Sometimes I think I'm given an award for being that word (old) we don't say."

And she added: "When you start thinking you're somebody, there's a man with a bucket of ice cold water just around the corner who's going to throw it at you and say, 'menopausal dwarf!'."

Dame Judi said that she had no intention of retiring.

"The moment you say an age, people think bath chairs and sitting with your feet up. They say, 'Take it easy.' Why do they say that?

"The worst thing you can possibly do is stick somebody in a room in front of the television and not speak to them... People immediately associate old age with infirmity. They say, 'Oh, you must take it easy,' and I think, 'Get off!' I don't mind people being helpful, because I can't see very well (macular degeneration) but I don't want them to help me."


From Belfast Telegraph