Prolific British icon Judi Dench has earned her spot as one of the most respected women in the film world. From James Bond to Shakespeare and even an appearance in Cats, her wide repertoire has made her one of the world’s most beloved actresses and icons.
Considering her status both on and off stage, it saddens us to hear the news that we may be seeing less of Dench on screen in the future. In a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Dench revealed that health complications she has been struggling with for over ten years have made acting “impossible.”
Dench has battled with age-related macular degeneration for over a decade and recently revealed on Graham Norton that she now finds it difficult to read. Judi says the degenerative eye condition has affected her ability to remember lines, saying:
“It has become impossible and because I have a photographic memory, I need to find a machine that not only teaches me my lines but also tells me where they appear on the page.”
Dench has previously addressed her struggles with dealing with degenerative vision issues in support of the Vision Foundation, saying:
“You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult…”.
“I’ve had to find another way of learning lines and things, which is having great friends of mine repeat them to me over and over and over again… I was doing The Winter’s Tale with Kenneth Branagh a couple of years ago, playing Paulina, and after we had been running for three weeks or so at the Garrick, he said to me — I have a long speech at the end — he said: ‘Judi if you were to say that speech about eight feet to your right, you’d be saying it to me and not to the [proscenium].'”
“I rely on people to tell me!
Despite her trouble reading and remembering lines, in true Judi fashion, Dench boasted to fellow guest Hugh Jackman that she still has material from her iconic popular roles memorised, threatening:
“I could do the whole of Twelfth Night right now.”
We have no doubt she could. After a career spanning multiple Golden Globe and British Academy Television and Film Awards, seven Olivier awards, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award – there’s little that Dench hasn’t already achieved in her 66-year career.
You can’t hold her back. Despite the growing health battles, Judi raked in an Academy Award nomination in 2022 for her supporting role in Belfast and was nominated for most of the major awards throughout the season. She’s also returning to screen very soon, starring in Richard Eyre’s drama Allelujah, based on Alan Bennett’s play of the same name.
Feature Image: Chris Jackson / Getty