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Dame Judi Dench, 84, discusses battle with macular degeneration and ‘trauma’ of giving up driving

Dame Judi Dench admitted giving up driving was ‘one of the most traumatic moments of my life’ as she battles a degenerative eye disease.

The actress, 84, can no longer read and worries people will be offended that she doesn’t recognise them.

In a new interview with the Radio Times, the discussed her battle with macular degeneration – as well as her friendships with controversial figures Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein.  

Honest: Dame Judi Dench, 84, admitted giving up driving was ‘one of the most traumatic moments of my life’ as she battles a degenerative eye disease

The James Bond star suffers with age-related macular degeneration, for which there is no cure, and has head eight injections in on eye to slow the rate of deterioration.

‘A couple of years ago I stopped driving, which was one of the most traumatic moments of my life’, she told the publication.

‘It was absolutely appalling. But I just know I’ll kill somebody if I get behind the wheel of a car now.’ 

The Oscar-winner learns her lines with the help of an assistant, and also uses a script written in single-sentence giant type.

Close pals: The star also discussed her close friendship with two controversial entertainment figures, disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey (pictured)

Close pals: The star also discussed her close friendship with two controversial entertainment figures, disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey (pictured)

‘I can’t read the paper now, I can’t do the crossword, I can’t read a book,’ she said.

‘But, you know, you cope. I’ve got people who read to me and coach me with my lines. On a film set you learn where everything is. It’s OK if you can get away with it. It’s all acting, after all. Fooling people. It’s what I do..’ She also expressed her concerns that people might think she’s being aloof, and not that she simply can’t see them.

‘What worries me is some people don’t know, and they think: “Ooh, get her – she cut me dead!” when I didn’t see them at all’, she admitted.

The star also discussed her close friendship with two controversial entertainment figures, disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey.

Fears: The actress can no longer read and worries people will be offended that she doesn't recognise them

Fears: The actress can no longer read and worries people will be offended that she doesn’t recognise them

Suffering: 'What worries me is some people don't know, and they think: "Ooh, get her - she cut me dead!" when I didn't see them at all', she admitted

Suffering: ‘What worries me is some people don’t know, and they think: “Ooh, get her – she cut me dead!” when I didn’t see them at all’, she admitted

Weinstein has been accused of dozens of accounts of sexual harassment and assault spanning three decades, while Spacey has been hauled into court on sexual battery charges.

Dame Judi said she believes their art should be considered separately from their alleged crimes, but said she was ‘horrified’ by the allegations against Weinstein.

‘Are we going to negate ten years at the Old Vic and everything that he did [Spacey as artistic director] – how wonderful he’s been in all those films?

‘Are we just not going to see all those films that Harvey produced? You cannot deny somebody a talent. You might as well never look at a Caravaggio painting [he was a murderer]. You might as well never have gone to see Noël Coward [accused of predatory behaviour].’ 

The pair are two of Dame Judi’s closest friends, with her crediting Weinstein with her breakthrough in Hollywood and thanking Spacey for being a great support to her when her husband, Michael Williams, died in 2001.

Defence: 'Are we going to negate ten years at the Old Vic and everything that he did [Spacey as artistic director] - how wonderful he's been in all those films?

Defence: ‘Are we going to negate ten years at the Old Vic and everything that he did [Spacey as artistic director] – how wonderful he’s been in all those films?

She called it a ‘moral maze’ and said she was worried about Spacey’s films being airbrushed out history, ‘while he’s on hold all the time. What kind of agony is that?’ 

In 2017, actor Anthony Rapp alleged that an intoxicated Kevin made a sexual advance towards him in 1986, when he was just 14 and the House of Cards star was 26. 

In June this year Kevin made an unexpected appearance in court where his lawyer demanded access to the phone of the man who has accused the actor of groping him at a bar on the resort island of Nantucket in 2016. 

The 59-year-old, who has pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery, faces up to two and a half years in jail if convicted. 

Terrified: 'It was absolutely appalling. But I just know I'll kill somebody if I get behind the wheel of a car now'

Terrified: ‘It was absolutely appalling. But I just know I’ll kill somebody if I get behind the wheel of a car now’

Meanwhile, Judi shows no signs of slowing down in her 80s, and is already making six films this year including a comedy version of the stage musical Cats.

She will play cat patriarch Old Deuteronomy, but has changed the roles gender.

‘I call her Trans Deuteronomy,’ she joked.

‘I don’t think Brian Blessed [who played the part in the original stage show] will be at all pleased.’ But she admitted she never watches her own films, saying she doesn’t want to see ‘the reality’ of her ageing on screen.

‘I don’t see any of my films after I’ve made them unless I’m made to go to a premiere’, she said. ‘There are masses of films I’ve done that I’ve never clapped eyes on.

‘You see, in my mind I’m still a tall, willowy, 39-year-old blonde. I don’t want to see the reality. I’ve a touch of the Queen Elizabeth the firsts, really. She banned mirrors in her old age.’

Judi opens up in this week’s Radio Times, on sale now. 

Revealing all: Judi opens up about her condition and her controversial friendships in this week's Radio Times

Revealing all: Judi opens up about her condition and her controversial friendships in this week’s Radio Times

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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