Judi Dench determined to continue acting despite sight loss: ‘Friends read lines to me over and over again’

Actor says her condition has led to some funny moments at work

Ellie Harrison
Friday 26 February 2021 08:36
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Judi Dench has discussed her deteriorating eyesight in a online event for the Vision Foundation with Stephen Fry and Hayley Mills.

She said she has come up with inventive ways to keep working as an actor, by relying on close friends to help her memorise new scripts through the repetition of reading them aloud to her.

“You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult,” Dench said. “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.

“So I have to learn through repetition, and I just hope that people won’t notice too much if all the lines are completely hopeless!”

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Dench’s sight loss has led to some funny moments at work.

“I was doing The Winter’s Tale with Kenneth Branagh a couple of years ago,” she said, “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 pros’ arch.’ I rely on people to tell me!”

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The 86-year-old actor has stayed busy through her condition, having starred in the films Cats, Artemis Fowl, Blithe Spirit and Six Minutes to Midnight just in the last two years.

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