Entertainment & Arts

Dame Judi Dench defies failing eyesight to continue filming

Dame Judi Dench Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The actress called retirement "the rudest word in my dictionary"

Dame Judi Dench says she has no plans to retire from acting, despite failing eyesight which has left her unable to read scripts.

"I can't read anymore," she told the Hollywood Reporter. "I can't paint like I used to. I try to watch movies, but it's quite difficult.

"But these are all of the negatives," she added. "What I can do, I do. And I somehow get by."

The actress, 79, has age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The condition, which affects more than 600,000 people in the UK, is the cause of more than half of the registrations for blind and partially sighted people in the country.

Dame Judi first revealed her diagnosis in 2012, noting her mother had suffered from the same condition.

But even before her eyesight began to decline, the Oscar-winner said she preferred to have scripts read aloud to her, as Steve Coogan did for the Oscar-nominated Philomena.

"I suppose it's the child in me," she said. "I think somebody coming around and telling you a story is irresistible."

The actress said she had no plans to step away from the stage or the camera, calling retirement "the rudest word in my dictionary".

"And 'old' is another one. I don't allow that in my house. And being called 'vintage'. I don't want any of those old words.

"I like 'enthusiastic' and I like the word 'cut' because that means you've finished the shot."

Image copyright BBC Films
Image caption Dame Judi is nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for Philomena, but is expected to miss next week's ceremony

Dame Judi made her professional acting debut at the Old Vic in 1957 and was an acclaimed stage and TV actress before being cast as M in the rejuvenated James Bond franchise in 1995.

Two years later, she appeared as Queen Victoria in the TV drama Mrs Brown, which was picked up by film studio Miramax and became a global box office hit.

The film kick-started her Hollywood career, and the relationship with Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein brought Dame Judi her only Oscar to date, for an eight-minute cameo as Queen Elizabeth in the 1998 movie Shakespeare in Love.

She has since received Academy nominations for roles in Chocolat, Iris, Mrs Henderson Presents, Notes on a Scandal and, this year, for Philomena.

She is currently in India filming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, but her best-known role continues to be James Bond's boss.

But, after playing a pivotal role alongside Daniel Craig in Skyfall in 2012, the actress left the part behind, bequeathing it to Ralph Fiennes.

"My role as M is over," she told The Hollywood Reporter, "but having had 17 years I think, probably, I would have been given the sack by MI6 already. So it's someone else's turn."

On a lighter note, the star also revealed that she had, on more than one occasion, brought her pet goldfish back to life.

"I've given the breath of life to [him] twice," she said.

"He's now about 8 inches long - almost a full shark - and yes, twice, I breathed into his mouth. He's now called Lazarus."

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