Judi Dench Opens Up About ‘Difficult’ Filming Challenges Amid Vision Complications

"I can’t see on a film set anymore,” the James Bond franchise actor said of working with macular degeneration.
Dame Judi Dench
Dame Judi Dench
John Phillips via Getty Images

Judi Dench says she’s facing some hurdles in her career due to a degenerative eye condition that has left her unable to see on set or read scripts.

Dench, 88, recently told The Mirror that she wants to work “as much as I can” but admitted that acting has become more taxing because of her declining vision.

“I mean I can’t see on a film set anymore,” said the Oscar-winning actor, who was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration more than a decade ago.

AMD is an eye disease that can blur your central vision as you age, according to the National Eye Institute.

“And I can’t see to read. So I can’t see much,” Dench said, adding, “But you know you just deal with it. Get on. It’s difficult for me if I have any length of a part. I haven’t yet found a way.”

However, she also noted that she has “so many friends who will teach me the script,” as well as a “photographic memory.”

Earlier this year, the actor gushed about her memory on “The Graham Norton Show” show but admitted that it wasn’t sufficient anymore.

“I need to find a machine that not only teaches me my lines but also tells me where they appear on the page,” Dench said at the time. “I used to find it very easy to learn lines and remember them. I could do the whole of ‘Twelfth Night’ right now.”

Dench, known for her role as M16 chief M in the James Bond franchise, was forced to stop driving in 2017 after her sight began to deteriorate, which she called “absolutely appalling,” the Independent reported.

“It’s the most terrible shock to the system,” Dench told British Vogue in May 2020 of losing her driving privileges. “Ghastly. It’s terrible to be so dependent on people.”

In the same interview, Dench’s daughter, Finty Williams, shared that her mother was struggling with other vision-dependent tasks.

“There were lots of things that she used to be able to do that she can’t do anymore, you know, like needlework and handwriting letters,” Williams told the outlet.

Two years ago, Dench told the Guardian that she disliked it when people called her a national treasure because she felt the “terrible label” “relegates me to being an 86-year-old woman.”

“In my mind’s eye I’m 6 feet and willowy and about 39,” she told the outlet at the time.

Dench added: “Fuck being 86 years old.”


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