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Dench enjoys life at 'Marigold Hotel' 0

Liz Braun, QMI Agency
Dame Judi Dench attends the film premiere of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York April 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jemal Countess

Dame Judi Dench attends the film premiere of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York April 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jemal Countess

She has every acting award available (and multiples of some), the Queen named her a Dame of Order of the British Empire 25 years ago and she's still fully employed at 77, so you don't really need us to tell you that Dame Judi Dench is fabulous.

But: Dame Judi Dench is fabulous. Really fabulous.

At a press conference here for her new movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dench proves to be engaging, amusing and incisive.

She happily describes the nearly 10 weeks in India shooting the film as, "An assault on the senses, just as my character says. But within 24 hours, I was completely fascinated and bewitched by the country... The beauty of the people I thought astounding, and the colour, the noise, the smell, everything about it, is completely staggering. We made some remarkable new friends, and I can't wait to go back there."

Dench had some old friends with her in India, too. The cast includes people (Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith) she's worked with many times.

Being in India with old buddies, "There was that feeling of being in a theatre company," she says. " You learn how another person acts, about the time they take, and their method of acting, and that's as important as telling the story or interpreting the character... My husband used to say that I was in theatre because I was so nosey," she says, laughing. "Because I liked to know about other people so much."

Dench has been an actor for more than 50 years. She became a 'movie star' late in life through her role as Queen Victoria in the film Mrs. Brown (1997), and by playing M in the James Bond movies.

Not surprisingly, being James Bond's boss has won her a huge following among teenagers.

"You get approached by mostly people my grandson's age, 15 and up," she says. "His friends are inclined to come to our house and imagine it's a bit like MI6... It's very good street cred for young chaps. That's a very nice thing, because that's how you get an audience for the future. As many things as you can appeal in, to all ages, that's important if you want to keep the theatre in your life. And I do mean, essentially, the theatre."

What Dench says she'd like to do next is keep working. She often gets scripts that sound like something she's already done, the actress explains, "And what you long for is a script that's not remotely like the first one. The most wild, way-out thing you can think of, that's what I'd like to do next. Something that isn't in my ken."

Does she ever catch herself thinking she's old?

"Well, I shout at the radio," she says, laughing, "And I know that's old."


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