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Judi Dench Talks Feeling "drunk with power" as M, Intimidated by Clint Eastwood

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 15, 2012 at 5:15PM

With "Skyfall" earning rave early reviews, and this year's global indie blockbuster "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," it's understandable that Judi Dench, 77, recently told the Guardian that she "never wants to stop working." The most recent Bond installment is the seventh 007 outing for Dench, and features a particularly hard-hitting storyline for her dry, steely-nerved M.
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Judi Dench

With "Skyfall" earning rave early Brit reviews, and this year's global indie blockbuster "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," it's understandable that Judi Dench, 77, recently told the Guardian that she "never wants to stop working." The most recent Bond installment is the seventh 007 outing for Dench, and features a particularly hard-hitting storyline for her dry, steely-nerved M. (On "60 Minutes," Daniel Craig admitted that both he and Dench have to fight for their jobs in Bond 23.)

Below, highlights from her Guardian interview.

On why playing M makes her feel great:

"[The role makes me feel] completely drunk with power, because I can't mend anything, or even put the ironing board up properly... [but] I would hate people to think that bossy is all I can do.... [The character has grown] necessarily, just by the fact that I got older, and she has to work even harder to prove she is up to it."

On looking at dailies:

"Really good film actors, proper ones, will always look at a take after it's done... I find it too hard to cope with the fact that you can't change it. I love the way in the theatre that you can change it every night... I think it is always appalling to see yourself on film. I think John Gielgud used to say that he would love to have had a performance of a play he had been in to put on his mantelpiece so he could live with it  and see exactly the ways he could have done it better. Because there are always ways. In the  theatre you can change things ever so slightly; it's an organic thing. Whereas in film you only have that chance on the day, and you have no control over it at all."

On meeting Clint Eastwood:

"He rang me up, and I thought at first it was a friend sending me up. So I didn't take it seriously to start with. And then I realised it was really him and that was a tricky conversation. I hadn't met him by the time I got on set [of "J. Edgar"], really. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and there was this immensely tall man standing there, a bit terrifying, but brilliant…"

This article is related to: Judi Dench, Skyfall, News, Interviews, Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.