- Jeffrey Corzine, son of ex-N.J. governor, dead at 31
- Australian surfing magazine sorry for calling indigenous surfer ‘apeish’
- Records: Man in Fla. theater shooting also was texting
- The Putin problem: U.S. needs Russian rockets for spy satellites
- Florida cops ticket toddler in toy convertible: report
- Kerry warns of ‘very serious’ response to Crimea-Russia alliance
- Fla. Rep. Alan Grayson’s wife drops restraining order against him
- McDonald’s lawsuits filed over wages ‘stolen’ like Hamburglar steals Big Macs
- HUMPHRIES: Fight like a Democrat – An open letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell
- Florida board member shocks with ‘Heil Hitler’ salute at town meeting
BOOK REVIEW: ‘And Furthermore’
Judi Dench is an acting legend in her own time. There seems to be nothing she has not done, from Queen Victoria, Elizabeth I (she hated the wig) and Shakespeare characters to Miss Moneypenny in James Bond movies.
Unlike current celebrities who can achieve attention only through public misbehavior, Dame Judi is a professional, and her life as she describes it in this latest biography testifies to that. The chronology of plays and films in which she has appeared is as impressive as the number of awards with which she has been honored.
The book is “as told to John Miller,” and Miss Dench notes in a wry preface that she does not consider it an autobiography - ” I have neither the time nor the skill to write one.’ ” She apparently had to be persuaded that it could be told in her own voice while she filled in any gaps for the author.
The book takes the reader behind the scenes of a remarkable life in which the author makes clear that while she worked very hard at what she did, she also had a good time. She also had an uninhibited sense of humor to help her through it. Telling about her role as Queen Victoria in “Mrs Brown,” she relates how much she and co-star Billy Connolly laughed while working on it.
“The biggest problem we both had was with my pony, Bluey, which kept breaking wind during the takes. There is a long shot when I am on the pony and Billy is leading me, and Bluey farted at nearly every step. If you look closely, you can see our shoulders heaving,” she says.
Miss Dench emphasizes how in a theater, the audience is crucial to the cast.
“It’s the only reason you bother to be in the theater in order that tonight it can be better than last night.” She also describes the awful impact for an actor of “drying up” on lines.
“You just feel as if you are falling backward into a black hole because the audience never go so quiet as when they know an actor has dried; the silence is deadly.”
It also, Miss Dench notes, is quite different from the moment of stillness when the audience is captivated, when “the company and the audience become one thing.”
It is fascinating when she describes the routine of preparing for a daily show and the stress of a part. Ironically, she explains, all the right things, like a good night’s sleep, a bath, a light lunch and a nap can mean you get to the theater “and fall a thousand feet when you simply can’t do anything right.” On the other hand, there are days when you arrive at the theater exhausted and wonder how you’re going to get through it, and that is when something wonderful happens.
According to Miss Dench, she always does the same thing immediately before a performance. “My dresser makes me a cup of tea with honey but without milk, and then I steam my voice … then I take a phial of ginseng and royal jelly, which is just like drinking pure honey.’” Her vocal exercises include chanting “hip-bath, hip-bath,” and she remembers the time her late husband, Michael Williams, and her daughter, Finty Williams, who also is an actress, sent her as a gift for a week, a lobster salad every night from the restaurant next door to the London theater where she was playing.
Miss Dench is dismissive of retirement, noting, “I am doing the things I want to do now, so I don’t want to retire. I like the company of other people, but I love the company of actors. My idea of hell would be a one-woman show. And you don’t need to retire as an actor. There are all those parts you can play lying in bed or in a wheelchair.”
She tells a hilarious story about touring in West Africa with the Nottingham Playhouse Company and playing Shakespeare before audiences who had never seen a theater company before and loved everything, especially anything that rhymed. She recalls that every time she said “The Thane of Fife had a wife,” the audience went into hysterics and begged, “Say that again, say that again.” Miss Dench observes that after those audiences, “nothing will ever throw you again.”
Making the television comedy drama “As Time Goes By” brought her friendship with her co-star Geoffrey Palmer, whom she credits with training” her to “fine-tune my timing on television.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Emily Miller
Obama is losing the debate on gun ownership, concealed-carry permits
- USS Kidd sent to Indian Ocean after 'indication' of Malaysian jet crash
- F-35 secrets now showing up in Chinas stealth fighter
- Oil rig worker says he saw missing plane go down: report
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- MILLER: Law enforcement realizes good people with guns deter crime
- GOP bill tries to pull courts into fight with Obama on executive power, enforcing laws
- After three days, Redskins finally address defensive needs
- NRA shirt gets N.Y. high school student suspended
- Snowden: NSA uses fake Facebook to hack into users' computers
- Ben Carson: America's now 'very much like Nazi Germany'
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again