Judi Dench: “It drives me spare when people say ‘are you going to retire?'”

Roald Dahl's 'Esio Trot' VIP screening
I was just reading through the latest issue of Hello! Magazine when I saw this interview with Dame Judi Dench, buried near the back. Miranda Kerr and Gwyneth Paltrow have full length interviews with photos in that issue but Dame Judi is kind of sandwiched in there. Nobody puts Judi Dench in a corner column. She’s doing a BBC Christmas special with Dustin Hoffman called Esio Trot, an adaptation of a Roald Dahl short story about two neighbors who “bond over a pet tortoise.” I know that story! With Dench and Hoffman involved, it’s likely to be incredible.

Judi had quite a few things to say to Richard Arnold, who is ITV’s Good Morning Britain’s Showbiz editor and is moonlighting for Hello! She was pretty vocal about people always bringing up her age, 80, and asking her when she’s going to retire. Never, bitches! Here’s more:

“I just think that age is a number and it’s imposed on you. For some reason, the only time I got upset was when I was 40. But now I think it’s that old thing that everybody says: ‘You’re as old as you feel.’

“The only thing is, it drives me absolutely spare when people say, ‘Are you going to retire?’ Or, ‘Don’t you think it’s time to put your feet up?’ Or they tell me my age. People like to tell you your age. They love it and I loath it. I don’t want to be told that I’m too old to do something. I want to try it first. And then if I don’t succeed I can be told I can’t do it.”

On being told she would never make it in movies
“That’s right. It was an office in Piccadilly, I always remember it. I’m not going to tell you who it was. But yes, he said, ‘I’m sorry. You will never make a film.’ Because, he said, ‘Your face is the kind of wrong arrangement.’”

[From Hello! Magazine, print edition, December 22, 2014]

There’s more in the print edition of Hello!, the one with gorgeous Prince George on the cover. That baby is so adorable. Dame Judi talks about loving a good challenge in her career and I found myself just wishing I was hanging out with her, having a cuppa. She would intimidate the hell out of me, but I would love to get the opportunity to listen to her.

Kaiser reminds me of another reason why people may be asking Dench when she’s going to retire: she’s going blind. Back in 2012 she admitted that she suffers from macular degeneration and that she was no longer able to read scripts on her own. She said “I can’t read scripts any more before because of the trouble with my eyes. And so somebody comes and reads them to me, like telling me a story.” That makes her seem even more hardcore to me. She can’t even see well enough to read and she’s not about to retire.

After I wrote this story, I found out that Judi said this in a press conference last month, so this wasn’t exactly a one-on-one interview, but it’s worth covering anyway!

BAFTA Britannia Awards 2014

Roald Dahl's 'Esio Trot' VIP screening

Roald Dahl's 'Esio Trot' VIP screening

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42 Responses to “Judi Dench: “It drives me spare when people say ‘are you going to retire?'””

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  1. Carol says:

    She is awesome!

  2. Jayna says:

    Judi Dench was brilliant in that creepy movie with Cate Blanchett. Notes on a Scandal. I’ve watched it twice. I loved her in the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. And I loved her in Philomena. She is just a fantastic actress.

  3. Lilacflowers says:

    Dame Judi is one of the highlights in the documentary “Muse of Fire.” She’s an absolute delight

  4. hutter says:

    Love her! It’s always thrilling when she’s on the Graham Norton Show 🙂

  5. Loopy says:

    Has anyone seen Headcases it’s like an updated version of Spitting Image,her and Helen Mirren’s characters in that were hilarious.

  6. Beth says:

    That first picture brightens my day. 😀

  7. Ally.M says:

    I think her best performance was playing Agnis in the The Shipping News. Years ago in the early 80’s she starred in a sweet little sitcom with her late husband, Michael Williams, called ‘A Fine Romance’, I’d love to watch it again.

  8. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I love her so much. And I agree it’s rude to ask when someone is going to retire. It’s suggesting they are too old to contribute. I’m so sad to hear she’s going blind. I didn’t know that.

  9. Kiddo says:

    Where’s Sixer? It drives me spare when she doesn’t show up.
    * I needed to sound ‘in the know’ Brit-wise, and use this spare business in a sentence.

    • manjit says:

      It’s another way of saying it drives you mad. “It/He/She drives me spare!”

      • Kiddo says:

        Yes, I figured it out through context. Sssh, I want Sixer to think I’m everything.

        But what’s a spare? Like a tire? An extra piece of chocolate, an extra penny?

      • mimif says:

        I had to google and now I’m confused. You English people are soooo Englishy sometimes.

        The original sense of “go spare,” when it first appeared in British slang in the 1940s, was “to be or become unemployed,” making it a close cousin of the more formal British euphemism for being laid off, “to be made redundant.” By the late 1950s, the normal emotional reaction to losing one’s job had colored the term “go spare,” and it had had acquired the added meaning of “to become distraught or very angry” (“When he saw what I had done he went spare,” 1958).

      • Kiddo says:

        mimif, Judi Dench is a known liar. She’s making it up as she goes along. lol

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Yes, we do need a Sixer explanation of that phrase.

    • mimif says:

      I knew I could count on you, Kidoo. It’s almost as if she cannot sanction that buffoonery.

    • Sixer says:

      Sorry! I was WORKING! Deadlines, dontchaknow. Internet Christmas shopping, dontchaknow (sod going to real shops. They set off my allergies). Rewatching last night’s Black Mirror, dontchaknow.

      Go spare is the same as drives me round the bend is the same as sends me up the wall is the same as makes me get a right cob on is the same as does my head in is the same as…

      …. do you need more, my Kiddo, or will that suffice?

    • Sixer says:

      By the bye. Esio Trot was Sixlet Minor’s favourite Roald Dahl story and the first book he ever read by himself. I’m going to do huge amounts of crying if his newly adolescent present self does not want to watch la Dench.

  10. Stella says:

    If you want to see real chemistry, watch A Fine Romance, the series she did with her late husband Mike Williams.

  11. Tiffany says:

    The woman won an Oscar for pretty much a cameo. No, she is not retiring.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Eight minutes. She was on screen for a total of eight minutes and she was marvelous in every single second of those eight minutes.

  12. manjit says:

    A friend of mine drove Judi Dench and Maggie Smith to a big charity function a couple of years ago. He said they both swore like navvies and were “very naughty” and made him blush. A few months later he had to drive Maggie Smith to an awards dinner and when he picked her up she recognised him and said “wait until I tell Judi, she’ll be so jealous”. He absolutely adores the two of them!

  13. Cupcake says:

    I love the series “As Time Goes By.” If you want to bask in Judi for hours in end start that series and enjoy – you’re welcome!!

  14. scout says:

    But are you pregnant yet? That’s more important question Dame Judi!!!

  15. vauvert says:

    She is a perfect example that you can be both pure class and have a streak of naughty a mile wide. As far as talent goes she can play anything anywhere and I will watch it. Amazing woman. Can’t imagine the idiot who thought she would not be a successful actress. The best part about her is that there is no fake modesty, I am too private for this, whatever. She calls it like she sees it, speaks up when she wants and in the meantime delivers incredible performances. Wish more actresses would take a page out of her book.
    Oh, and may I say she looks glorious. Love her face. No work done, and she is beautiful. You don’t see the wrinkles, but her smile and the twinkle in her eye. It’s a face that tells you she has lived, and smiled, and laughed, and frowned, and probably had a drink and a ciggie and maybe sat in the sun too, and that it was all great fun.

  16. original kay says:

    I absolutely adore Dame Judi.
    My favourite role is “as time goes by”, I have watched it so many time, the entire series, that they all seem like family.

  17. msw says:

    I love that in these photos she makes Dustin Hoffman look tall!! I love them both, and wish them good health and long lives! A couple of good eggs.