Judi Dench revisits her Shakespearean legacy in new book

Judi Dench has tackled nearly every female role in William Shakespeare’s plays, from Juliet to Cleopatra, in her illustrious seven-decade career. Together with Brendan O’Hea, a friend and fellow actor, Dench explores her connection with Shakespeare in their collaborative book, “Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent.”

The title is a nod to how Dench and her late husband humorously referred to Shakespeare.

During the pandemic, while secluded at her home outside London, Dench received a call from O’Hea that set the stage for their book. O’Hea, an actor and director, proposed they discuss Dench’s extensive history with Shakespearean roles.

“We just kind of rescued each other and we rescued each other through Shakespeare,” said O’Hea.

The conversations, which totaled around 120 hours and included plenty of playful bickering, revisited Dench’s illustrious stage career, including her debut as Ophelia in “Hamlet” at the Old Vic when she was just 22.

She followed that with a role in Henry V. She recounted how her co-star, Laurence Harvey, thought she would be taller, leading to some onstage challenges.

“I kept trying to attract his attention,” Dench said as she stretched her neck. “It never worked.”

Some of her now legendary Shakespearean performances have been preserved on film, though she admits to rarely watching them due to her critical eye.

Dench’s venture into film wasn’t straightforward. Despite a director once telling her she didn’t have the face for film, she later achieved international fame as M in the James Bond series starting in 1995, transforming her into a global icon. Her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in “Shakespeare in Love” earned her an Oscar.

As she approaches her 90th birthday in December, Dench continues to cherish every moment, evident in her decision to get her first tattoo on her 81st birthday. It reads “carpe diem,” which is Latin for “seize the day” — or, as Dench prefers, “savor the day.”

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top