Judi Dench on Why She Doesn’t Watch Herself On-Screen and How Theatre Allows the Opportunity to “Correct” a Performance


Actress Dame Judi Dench

“I don’t see myself on film. When I do, I’m terribly conscious of what I chose to do and not to do in a moment.” – Judi Dench

When Oscar, BAFTA, and Tony Award-winning actress Judi Dench talks about acting, anyone with any interest in the profession ought to listen. Since beginning her career on stage in the late 1950s, Dench has created a lengthy list of incredible award-winning performances. In an interview with USA Today to promote her new film Red Joan, Dench reveals that she doesn’t watch her film performances until years after they are released, and explains why she feels the stage allows more opportunity to “correct” one’s performance.

Like many other screen actors, Dench says that she does not watch her own performances, saying that she is “so allergic to seeing myself.” She adds, “I don’t see myself on film. When I do, I’m terribly conscious of what I chose to do and not to do in a moment. And I always am irritated. I like to watch it quite a long time afterwards when I have forgotten all the questions I had to ask myself in the moment. So I can look at it much more dispassionately.”

Regarding watching one of her performances, “quite a long time afterwards,” Dench admits to recently watching GoldenEye, the 1995 James Bond film that marked her first performance as M. Even almost twenty-five years later, Dench can point out what she sees as the flaws in her film performance — and how theater has an advantage on that. She explains, “There were things I would have done differently. Which is why the theater is so wonderful. You do a performance, someone says something, so you change it a bit. You have a bit of a chance to get it a better. Once it’s up there in celluloid, it’s there forever.”

More: Judi Dench: “I think it is terribly important to know that whole history of theatre we have”

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