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Ain’t Nothin’ Like Dame Judi Dench

The ‘Philomena’ star and likely Oscar nominee doesn’t know how to grow old

Judi Dench in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1968. (Everett Collection)

1968: Judi Dench as Queen Titania in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." — Everett Collection

3. Wear your age — proudly

As someone who was named one of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in the World in 2007, this tamper-free septuagenarian has little to worry about. Her many wrinkles-and-all close-ups in Philomena are a testament to her enduring loveliness.

Still, she admits to considering plastic surgery. "I'm too old now," she says. "Every time I go to America, I wonder if there is some process where it could all be sucked out and I could be out of there in time for dinner."

4. Find a soulmate who sends you flowers every week

She and Royal Shakespeare Company colleague Michael Williams were friends for years before they wed in 1971. While she was upbeat and outgoing, he was more of a pessimist and dour.

"He was a Cancerian, I'm a Sagittarian," Dench says. "He would say, 'I am always rushing for the dark, you're always rushing for the light. If we hold in the middle, there's a kind of balance.' " He would send her a red rose every Friday for 30 years until his death from lung cancer at age 65 in 2001.

Daniel Craig and Judi Dench in Skyfall. (Francois Duhamel/Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection)

2012: Daniel Craig as 007 and Judi Dench as M in "Skyfall." — Francois Duhamel/Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

5. Show them who is boss

Forget Pussy Galore. When it comes to Bond girls, no one tops Dench.

When the James Bond franchise was rebooted in 1995 after a six-year hiatus, Dench was hired as the first female to play M, 007's superior, even before Pierce Brosnan was in place as the sixth official actor to play the secret agent. Her character would set the tone in their first movie, GoldenEye, referring to Bond as "a sexist, misogynistic dinosaur." She and Brosnan teamed on three more Bond movies and the actress carried on as M when Daniel Craig took over the lead. She would show him the ropes in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) before M met her demise in last year's Skyfall.

6. Work as long and as much as you can

Dench's output would be astonishing for a woman half her age. She did eight films in 2011-12. That's not even counting plays or TV.

What motivates her? "I just feel I have to keep doing it," she told the Observer last year. She already has her next two jobs lined up: A sequel to last year's surprise success, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that begins shooting in India in January, and a BBC comedy opposite Dustin Hoffman, based on Roald Dahl's book Esio Trot.

Judi Dench as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love. (Universal Pictures/Everett Collection)

1998: Judi Dench won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the roughly 8 minutes she was on screen as Queen Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love." — Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

7. Don't close the door to your heart

After the death of her husband, Dench was asked if she could love again. Her response: "It's not something that's ever happened."

But the speculation that began in British tabloids three years ago has proved to be true. She has a new man in her life, wildlife conservationist David Mills, 70.

"It's great to meet someone who shares your sense of humor and interests," she told the Telegraph last month. "I haven't really talked about him, but it's jolly nice to have someone to laugh with."

Susan Wloszczyna writes about movies, entertainment and popular culture.

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