Dench joins tap dancing Kevin Spacey before taking "extended
breaks" from movie-making to talk to Parkinson, Saturday 9
March at 9.00pm on BBC ONE
In her first major television interview since winning a BAFTA and
receiving an Oscar® nomination for her performance in Iris,
Dame Judi Dench joins Michael Parkinson to talk about life with
late husband Michael Williams, her growing friendship with Kevin
Spacey and being labelled a "national treasure".
talks to Judi about her marriage, and especially on those reports
that described her relationship with Michael as "volatile".
says: "I read this recently in The New Yorker. It was a volatile
marriage in, I expect yours is, or any marriage is. People kept
saying, oh youre an absolute perfect couple and
we were - I was so lucky to meet somebody like that. And I knew
him for nine years before we got married so I knew him for 39, nearly
40 years. Lightning doesnt strike twice in the same place."
continues: "When people asked us if we ever had rows, we would
say, do we ever have rows?! Youre joking! Hot
cup of tea once! Of course [we rowed] but he would have been my
best friend if I hadnt married him. And I feel incredibly
lucky that we met and worked together, and had our rows."
describes a "wonderful row" when the two were working
in theatre together. She says: "We were at the Lyric Theatre
in Shaftesbury Avenue [and we were rowing about] the boiler going
off. We were sitting in the car. He was looking out one way and
me the other. We stopped in the traffic and a woman passing caught
sight of us and sang A fine romance, with no
it did make us laugh. He was the best."
then asks if its true that the actress never reads her scripts
before choosing a role? Judi answers: "No I dont. I used
to know [if the scripts were right] because Michael would tell me.
He always knew. He would read the script and would say, why
dont you read this line? And he would be right, hed
always be right."
asks her why she uses this technique and she replies: "I read
recently that [Director] Richard Eyre said its to do with
free-falling and thats exactly what it is. I didnt realise
- its real fright. Its being pushed out of the plane
I like to feel real fear. The more you [prepare for a script/role],
the more is expected of you and the more frightened you get. And
the fear, like any emotion you feel, is what generates you."
Michael asks Judi whether she deliberately threw herself into work
following her husbands death, she says: "I didnt
but because of the supposed strike at the end
of June, those three films had to be made and I took an enormously
deep breath. My agent asked was I sure about it - with only one
or two days between each thing, and crossing the Atlantic? And I
said, yes, absolutely." She continues: "But
now Im going to have a bit of a rest and come face to face
with it all. I think I must do it, and its time for me to
do it now. And good friends [got me through it] including making
friends with the person who is going to sit next to me now [Kevin
Spacey], who got me through the tricky weeks."
Judi laughs when Michael asks her what it feels like to be a national
treasure? She says: "I dont like that! I think Alan Bennetts
a national treasure too. I think youre probably one as well
- I think its a Yorkshire thing!"
being a Dame, she continues: "In America nobody knows what
a Dame is. So you are constantly saying that it is kind of an equivalent
of a Knight. And then everybody says that a Dame is quite different
here, and its very nice to be an American kind of Dame. But
I also get called Dame Dench quite a lot. Nobody quite knows what
winning actor Kevin Spacey joins in the chat with Michael and Judi.
Michael asks Kevin to talk about his and Judis "blooming
relationship" and asks especially about their competitive games
of Ping-Pong. Kevin says: "Well [she] cheats at Ping-Pong.
Let me tell you what she does. She tries this little act. If you
make a great move, and I would occasionally make a great move, she
would go [puts his hands on his side], well if youre
going to play like that then I dont want to play with you.
And you go, but thats a good move and shed
go, well I know what it is, but I just simply dont want
to play like that." He continues: "She tries to
psyche you out and then she does some great move and goes aha."
then asks about the "ongoing saga of the black glove".
Judi and Kevin laugh, and the actress explains: "Tim Pigott-Smith
did a scene from Jewel In The Crown playing a character who has
a wooden hand and he had a glove on. When we were doing Antony &
Cleopatra at The National
Tim Pigott-Smith was playing Octavius
Caesar. I happened to say
theres something strangely
attractive about that hand in a glove - something strangely uneasy
that it makes me."
laughs and continues: "Of course then, I cooked my goose because
the next night, Octavius Caesar comes down and I get suddenly riveted
by the fact that [he has] this leather glove on. Then this leather
glove starts to appear everywhere, in the basket of snakes, everywhere.
Then it goes back to him and it arrives in his loo one night, in
his bed, on stage all across the world. Then of course were
all in New York - Kevin, Tim Pigott-Smith on one side of the street
on Broadway, and me on the other. And I get the glove to him when
the President goes to see Kevin and Tims play."
continues the story: "President Clinton came and it appeared
that night in our show and then it went back to [Judis show].
So when I discovered that I was going to get to do The Shipping
News with Judi, I immediately telephoned Tim Pigott Smith and I
said send me the black glove." [Audience laughs]
continues: "So the glove arrives in Newfoundland. I very carefully
studied the script because I dont believe it ever had appeared
on a film set before and I wanted to pick the moment when the black
glove would appear on the film set. So Judi has a scene where she
goes to an outdoor loo and its just a pretend loo, a set.
It was an out house essentially. She thought I wasnt working
that day but in fact I was. I had dug a hole underneath the loo
and she does a scene where she pretends to take her pants down,
and she sat on the hole and I had the black glove on a stick and
I began to just gently pop it
. Then I started to really bang
it, and she got up and looks in the hole, and I hear oh no!
Not the dreaded black glove!"
laughs: "Of course the great thing for me is, the revenge doesnt
come down on me, its Tim Piggott Smith. Somehow, somewhere
shes going to top what happened."
talks to Kevin starting his career as a stand-up comic.
After doing a brilliant Bill Clinton impression to Michaels
other guest Rory Bremner [Im glad to see my friend Tony Blair
is here tonight!], Kevin explains: "I started out doing an
impressions - I just had an ear for it but I did it in some unusual
places in Los Angeles where I grew up, like bowling alleys at midnight
talent contests. You know what this is like, when youre doing
youre best material and all you can hear is the sound of bowling
pins being knocked over. Its not going exactly as you hoped
but I found it great fun. And it really wasnt until I hosted
Saturday Night Live that I had a chance to really do impressions
in a public way
Each time I work with someone, I love to be
able to get them down. Just one kind of thing that they do [looks
at Judi and says in British accent impersonating her] Oh please!
Michael asks Kevin about one of his "great mentors", Al
Pacino, Kevin says: "I did a film with him which was almost
like a documentary about Shakespeare called Looking For Richard.
We did that because we did Glengarry Glen Ross. Hed come to
see me in a Neil Simon play and he recommended me to the director
James Foley, and said [in Al Pacino accent], Oh, I think hed
be good. Lets have him. Can I get a cappuccino!"
[The audience and Michael laugh]
then asks where Kevins love for song and dance came from?
Kevin replies: "It was partly because of my parents. When I
grew up we had music in the house all the time. In fact my father
had this extraordinary collection of 78 records so I grew up listening
to Peggy Lee, Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra which I
now have since my father passed. When I started out in theatre in
high school, I did a lot of musicals - The Sound of Music, West
Side Story, Oklahoma, Dames At Sea, Damn Yankees, a lot of musicals."
asks if Kevin would do a little hoof [tap dance]
for us, the actor replies: "Well only if you hoof
with me." Reluctantly, Michael joins Kevin who begins to shuffle
and instructs the talk-show host to do the same, saying "Use
your toe" but Michael tries with not much success and
says: "Can I make a deal with you? Can I watch you?"
professional tap dance gains a huge applause from the audience and
he comments: "Its not that complicated really."
Michael asks what the actors future plans are. Kevin says:
"Im pretty much doing what Judis doing. Im
taking an extended break from performing. I have a company in America
and were producing a great number of films and we have a documentary
that was just at the Berlin Film Festival. And thats really
what Im going to focus my energy and time on in the next year."
Rory Bremner is Michaels other guest in the studio and there
is music from The Lighthouse Family.
The next Parkinson will be transmitted on Saturday 23 March with
award-winning singer Celine Dion, in her only British interview,
Nigel Havers and Ian Hislop.
Executive Producer of Parkinson is Bea Ballard.