Making Movies Gets More Frightening With Age, Judi Dench Says

Making movies gets more terrifying the older you get, British actress Judi Dench said on Monday, a day after her latest royal comedy drama “Victoria & Abdul” premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

Dench, who won an Oscar for her role in “Shakespeare in Love” and was nominated for Academy Awards six other times, said unlike in theater, where you can adjust with each performance, in films you get only one chance.

“It’s always challenging, I am always frightened, always frightened,” the 82-year-old actress told Reuters in an interview. “I get more frightened the older I get.

“It’s like having a huge bank of buttons and you chose to press so many in order to do what the writer and director wants you to do, and then when you see it, you think ‘oh no, I could have done that better!’.”

Dench began her career in theater, followed by numerous TV roles, but still recalls how during a film audition she was told she would never make a movie “because you have everything wrong with your face.”

But the turning-point came in 1997 when she was cast as Queen Victoria in “Mrs. Brown,” the first time she played the late British monarch. She stepped back into the queen’s shoes for “Victoria & Abdul,” which screened in the out-of-competition section in Venice.

“It’s like coming back to meet an old friend,” she said.

While “Mrs. Brown” explored Queen Victoria’s relationship with her servant John Brown, Stephen Frears’ new comedy drama is based on her subsequent unlikely friendship with Indian clerk Abdul Kazim who was sent to England to present her with a gold coin.

Kazim was only due to visit Britain briefly but Victoria took a shine to him and asked him to stay on and be her teacher.

In the end Kazim served Victoria until the end of her reign.

Coming to London to shoot the film was the first time Indian actor Ali Fazal, who stars as Kazim, visited the British capital, and the first time he met Dench, “who is pretty much royalty amongst actors,” the 30-year-old actor said.

“It was a sort of parallel, going along with the film: I like to think I gained a wonderful friend,” he said.

Asked whether she would ever want to be royalty, Dench shook her head.

“No, certainly not, I can’t think of anything worse,” she said, although she added that the royal family was doing a “phenomenal job,” especially given it was not something they had chosen, but “just the job you’re born with.”

The festival ends on Sept. 9.