We’ll be seeing a lot more of Dame Judi Dench on our screens and in our newspapers over the next few weeks. She’s been nominated for the seventh time for an Oscar, this time for her moving performance in Philomena, a film about her character’s search for her long lost son, taken from her as a baby when she was forced to move into an Irish convent in Ireland during the 1960s.
Of course, this Oscar nomination is far from being the only accolade she has received, aside from the other six, of course. Last year, the manufacturers of coffee liqueur Bailey’s asked 4,000 British women who they thought was Britain’s most inspiring woman. Dame Judi Dench came first with Helen Mirren second.
So what is it that makes this very English actress so inspiring? She is, without doubt, a wonderful actress, always giving subtle, nuanced and entirely credible performances. Perhaps we love her too because she isn’t especially glamorous or ‘starry.’ She seems normal and it is easy to imagine being able to chat to her if you were lucky enough to meet her. The same could never be said for many Hollywood types. And there is one in particular who certainly doesn’t seem to love Dame Judi as much as we do. Actress Minnie Driver has let some rather catty remarks slip, calling her small, middle aged and round. Driver went on to add that Ms Dench would soon melt into the background if she spent any time in Hollywood. Vicious!
Judi Dench, who will be 80 at the end of this year, suffers from age related macular degeneration of the eye. This nasty disease can lead to blindness and is responsible for more than half of all registrations for partially sighted or blind people within the UK. AMD, as it is commonly known, currently affects, 600,000 people in Britain. Dame Judi has admitted that she can no longer read scripts but must ask for them to be read aloud to her. Fortunately for us, she has no plans to retire, saying she is able to wear contact lenses or spectacles that help considerably when she is in front of the camera. Bright lights also help.
If you want to see more of this inspirational older woman you can watch the Oscar ceremony on television when it is broadcast live from Hollywood on March 2nd. Rumour also has it that she will be playing the part of a rebel leader in the next Star Wars film which is due for release towards the end of next year.