‘I can’t even see’: Judi Dench suggests retirement from acting due to blindness

Author : leed lora | Published On : 30 May 2024

‘I can’t even see’: Judi Dench suggests retirement from acting due to blindness

The actor suggests her extraordinary stage, film and TV career has come to an end due to age-related macular degeneration.

Judi Dench has suggested she has retired from acting because of her worsening eyesight. Asked by a reporter over the weekend at the Chelsea flower show if she had plans for future roles, Dench responded: “No, no, I can’t even see!”

Representatives for the actor, 89, have indicated that there is nothing further to add. In Chelsea, Dench continued by saying she did have other projects in the pipeline, saying: “Our book has come out [Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent], we’re going to Cheltenham book fair and then I’m going to do three shows with Gyles Brandreth.”

Dench lives with age-related macular degeneration, which affects more than 700,000 people in the UK. She has been open about her diminishing vision, telling Louis Theroux in 2022: “I don’t want to retire. I’m not doing much at the moment because I can’t see. It’s bad.”

She added: “I have a photographic memory so a person saying to me, ‘This is your line …’ I can do that.”

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Last year, she told the Sunday Mirror she was still continuing to try to find workarounds, but “I can’t see on a film set any more” … “and I can’t see to read. But you just deal with it”.

She continued: “It’s difficult if I have any length of a part. I haven’t yet found a way.”

Dench has long been frank about the effects on her professional life of her condition, and the need for her to memorise lines orally before going on set. In 2021, she received an an Oscar nomination for her role in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, and appeared in a key role in Allelujah, Richard Eyre’s adaptation of the Alan Bennett play.

Her last screen role was a cameo in 2022’s Spirited.

Dench has said she continues to work because “I have an irrational fear of boredom. That’s why I now have this tattoo that says carpe diem. That’s what we should live by.”

Other key big screen roles include eight James Bond films and Shakespeare in Love, for which she won an Oscar. Dench has also had a sustained and highly successful stage career, winning a Tony and eight Olivier awards. Key TV shows include the sitcom As Time Goes By, with Geoffrey Palmer, and A Fine Romance, with her late husband, Michael Williams.

Dench was at the Chelsea flower show being presented by a primary school pupil with the first seedling from the Sycamore Gap tree that was illegally felled last year.

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“I’ll be naming him Antoninus,” she said, “the adopted son of the Emperor Hadrian.”

This article was amended on 28 May 2024. Hadrian’s adopted son was Antoninus, as Judi Dench said, not Antonius as an earlier version had it due to a transcription error.


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