Judi Dench Reveals How She Continues to Act Despite Her Eyesight Loss: 'You Find a Way'

Judi Dench began experiencing sight loss several years ago

Judi Dench
Judi Dench. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty

Judi Dench gave a rare look into how she's maintained a successful career while suffering from problems with her vision.

The Oscar winner opened up about her condition, caused by age-related macular degeneration, in a conversation benefiting the Vision Foundation, a sight loss charity based in London.

During the talk, reported on by The Guardian, Dench, 86, revealed how she's memorized scripts ever since she stopped being able to read.

"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!"

The actress also told a funny anecdote on how she relies on her costars to guide her when they're in scenes.

"I was doing the Winter's Tale with Kenneth Branagh a couple of years ago, 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.' I rely on people to tell me!" Dench recalled.

six minutes to midnight
Judi Dench in Six Minutes to Midnight. IFC Films

Dench also recently spoke about how much she dislikes being labeled a "national treasure." The actress sat down for an interview with The Guardian where she was asked about the moniker.

"For one thing," she said, "it's a terrible label. So dusty, so dreary. For another, it relegates me to being an 86-year-old woman. Whereas in my mind's eye I'm 6ft and willowy and about 39."

Dench went on to explain how she feels suffocated by the label.

"Do you know what it's like? It's like they've picked me up and put me inside a little glass-fronted cabinet," she explained. "Then they've locked the door so I can't get out."

When the interviewer told her to "smash the glass and run amok," Dench said, "Exactly. And f--- being 86 years old."

Dench next stars in Six Minutes to Midnight, out in select theaters and On Demand March 26.

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