She may be regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation, but at 82 Dame Judi Dench says she is still proving herself.
“I always worry with every job I take,” says the Victoria & Abdul star. “I’m still proving myself. Still trying to hit a higher mark. I’m always terribly nervous on a set or on a stage. I think it’s why I joke around, to calm those nerves.”
Judi has a staggering three movies out over the next three months, including Murder on the Orient Express and Tulip Fever, but in an extraordinary exclusive interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, she admits to living in constant fear of the work drying up.
“I’ve never been chosen for my looks and I’ve never been vain, so I’ve done as many different parts as I can,” she says.
“Every time I play one role, I try and get as far away from it in my next role. And I’m always pushing myself. Even now, I worry that I won’t get another job. Fear drives me to work and fear drives me to make myself better and better. You’d think by now I might have relaxed a bit, but I haven’t. I still panic if there’s nothing in the diary and the phone doesn’t ring.”
In the interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, Judi also talks indepth about the new love of her life – partner David Mills – and her grief at losing her husband of almost three decades, Michael Williams.
“We were married for 30 years minus three weeks and he was absolutely everything to me.”
She also talks candidly about playing Queen Victoria for the second time, the reality of acting - “I’m not very Hollywood because I find it all so very superficial” - and why she thinks she and her peers, from Maggie Smith to Helen Mirren, had it easier than young actresses today.
Read the exclusive interview with Dame Judi Dench in this month’s The Australian Women’s Weekly, onsale now.