Judi Dench’s ominous motivation to act: ‘Could be my last’

Judi Dench’s ominous motivation to act: ‘Could be my last’

Dame Judi Dench recalls being asked to play Ophelia

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Dame Judi returns to screens this evening as the star of ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, which airs on BBC One at 10:40pm. The feel-good comedy sees a group of British pensioners relocate to India for their retirement, lured by the promise of a life of cheap luxury. However, despite the best efforts of the hotel’s ever-optimistic manager, played by Dev Patel, the Marigold Hotel they are to stay in turns out to be a dump. 

Nevertheless, the location along with the pensioner’s shared experience sees them each transform for the better from the people that arrived in India. 

The film features a treasure trove of UK stars, including Bill NIghy, Dame Maggie Smith and of course, Dame Judi. 

It is also directed by John Madden, who was also behind the camera for 1998 hit ‘Shakespeare in Love’, for which Dame Judi received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

In fact, the legendary actress has received eight Academy Award nominations across a career spanning six decades, while she has also won a Tony Award and seven Olivier awards. 

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Lauded as one of the greatest actresses of her generation, the 87-year-old works as frequently now as ever before, and even received an Oscar nomination for her most recent performance as Granny in ‘Belfast’.

However, Dame Judi once revealed she took every job made available to, out of fear it would “be her last”.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019, the actress said: “No, I can’t turn things down. 

“If I’m offered a job, if I’m offered a job I always do it, because I think it’s the last job I’m going to be asked to do.”

When pressed on her worry that she’ll never get another job, Dame Judi added: “Well of course. Why ever would I not think that?”

Although Dame Judi did not explicitly say why she thought her acting career could come to an abrupt end, she has in previous years voiced concerns about her deteriorating eyesight.

Dame Judi, was diagnosed with macular degeneration (AMD) in 2012. 

In the early stages of her condition Dame Judi would have her script printed out in enlarged fonts.

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However, as the AMD has worsened, she has lost the ability to read. 

Nowadays, friends and family members read and repeat the lines aloud to help her memorise the script. 

Though there are not many silver linings to losing one’s site, Dame Judi has managed to find one. 

She explained: “Because I can only really see who someone is when I’m six inches away now, I have to get very close to people. I mean extremely close. 

“Which is handy with the fellas. 

“Wonderful really. And you have to find a silver lining don’t you?”

The condition, which is age-related, affects more than 600,000 people in the UK, according to the Macular Society. 

Dame Judi told the Guardian last year: “You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find difficult.”

She admitted that her mother had similar sight loss, while her daughter Finty goes and has her eyes checked regularly. 

She added: “It is intensely irritating.”

Often, Dame Judi admitted, she could walk past someone she knew well and not recognise them.

The actress said: “That’s tricky… But you adapt to it. And I don’t want it to interfere.”

Watch ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ on BBC One at 10:40pm. 

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