Veteran actress Judi Dench, who has won an Oscar, BAFTAs, Golden Globes and various theatre awards during her 60-year career, says her biggest achievement was to star in a movie — because she was once told she had the “wrong” face for films.
The 83-year-old, whose big screen roles have included Queen Elizabeth I and James Bond’s mentor M, said on the green carpet at the Zurich Film Festival on Wednesday evening she had been told early on in her career “you’ll never make a film”.
Asked what her biggest achievement has been, the British actress said: “I think making a film at all because I was told very, very early on that I would never make any films... They said ‘You have everything wrong with your face’.”
“So, I would quite like to say to that person, who alas now is dead, but I’d quite like to say — well, actually I did make them in the end. Lucky.” Dench, who made her professional stage debut as Ophelia in Hamlet in 1957, said there were more opportunities for women in the film industry now “than probably there ever has been before”.
“I think it’s going that way and that’s good. That’s always good. So, long may it last,” she said. “There are more swapping roles now in the theatre certainly and I think that’s good, gives us a fair share or a fairer share.” Dench, who has been in Zurich promoting her latest film Red Joan — about a British scientist who spies for the Soviet Union — , was also awarded the Golden Icon award at the festival, adding to her long list of stage and screen honours.
“Golden Icon that doesn’t happen very often in your life does it? And its such a great title,” she said.
“I’m going to boast a lot about it.”