LOS ANGELES — Judi Dench has been a Dame of the British Empire for 23 years. She has an Oscar, a Tony, two Golden Globes and nine Baftas. The greatest stage actress of all time? Maybe. A recent London poll thought so.
But there she was, barefoot and curled on a hotel sofa here, laughing herself hoarse while recalling a formative performance — as a snail. It was a kindergarten play. Ms. Dench, 5 or 6 at the time, did some improvisational slithering that grabbed the audience’s attention, and not in a good way.
“It’s as if I was wearing those woolly snail tights 10 minutes ago,” said Ms. Dench, now 76. “I don’t have a good memory for routine things — like that I have to go out and buy, you know, some bacon and a belt. But I do have a good memory for my friends and the things I’ve done.”
That steel trap, along with Ms. Dench’s sense of humor, is on full display in a new book, “And Furthermore” (St. Martin’s Press), that chronicles her 54-year career. The book, which goes on sale in the United States on Tuesday, starts at the beginning, in 1957, when Ms. Dench was cast as Ophelia in an Old Vic production of “Hamlet.” From there it proceeds production by production through 2010, sharing memories good and bad, along with a bit of life advice.
Ms. Dench refused to label “And Furthermore” an autobiography or memoir. She said she preferred to think of it as a 268-page addendum to “Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice,” a 1998 biography by John Miller. Mr. Miller and Ms. Dench, who are longtime friends, compiled “And Furthermore” from transcripts of taped conversations they have had over the years.
Full piece at New York Times.
Published in the Uk by Weidenfeld & Nicolson