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Dame Judi Dench Holds Court

The beloved actress on matrimonial bliss, vision loss and the follies of cooking

Judi Dench, actor, What I Know Now

J.R. Mankoff/August

Oscar winner Judi Dench says having an excuse for friends to "come up so close … is lovely."

We caught up with the Oscar-winning actress, 79, who's nominated again this year for her performance in Philomena:

On Being a Dame

It's lovely to be a dame. But it doesn't actually make anything different. I don't have to go about curtsying or waving to crowds — nothing like that!

Cheers! Movies for Grownups Best Actress winner Judi Dench, Philomena

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Lucky Roots

My mother was Irish. When I came to play Philomena Lee (in the 2013 film Philomena), I understood her Irishness and also her sense of humor. I recognized that very well.

Ties That Bind

If I hadn't been married to Michael, he would have been my best friend. Not taking each other for granted is key. It's the store you put in a marriage.

Oscar Buzz

I don't think there are enough Oscars made for all the people who are told, "There'll be an Oscar in this." I think it's good luck if it's mentioned, but you shouldn't pin your hopes too much on it.

Giving Back

I'm patron of more than 200 charities. You get a bit of money and think, "That will help donkeys or African children or the tsunami [victims]." I'm very interested in things concerning the blind now, too.

Mum's the Word

We had always planned to have about six children, Michael and me. Yet we had only one beautiful daughter, an actress. My grandson is 16. Motherhood means everything to me. The whole family getting together — it's the best day you could have.

The Eyes Have It

Like millions, I have macular degeneration. My mother had it, too. I don't see as much. I trust my friends to tell me if I have spinach on my tooth or if my makeup is awry. And they know that if they see me, they must come within 8 inches and say, "Look at me, stupid person," and then I'm all right! But, you know, the excuse of having somebody come up so close to you is lovely.

Life Offscreen

I have a very nice time seeing friends and having a laugh and playing cards and trying to be better at cooking, which I'm appalling at.

Meg Grant is West Coast Editor of AARP The Magazine.

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