Actress Judi Dench candidly shared new details about her eyesight loss and the difficulties she has faced on Hollywood sets.
“I mean I can’t see on a film set anymore,” Judi, 88, recently admitted. “And I can’t see to read. So, I can’t see much.”
Despite her struggles with her vision, the Academy Award winner has no plans of walking away from show business any time soon.
“But you know you just deal with it. Get on,” she reflected. “It’s difficult for me if I have any length of a part. I haven’t yet found a way. Because I have so many friends who will teach me the script. But I have a photographic memory.”
Judi previously opened up about being diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition in 2012, which has progressively gotten worse over time.
“It’s the most terrible shock to the system,” she said in a past interview. “Ghastly. It’s terrible to be so dependent on people.”
Judi most recently made acting appearances in 2022’s Spirited and Allelujah. In February, the prolific entertainer stopped by The Graham Norton Show.
“It has become impossible and because I have a photographic memory, I need to find a machine that not only teaches me my lines but also tells me where they appear on the page,” she reflected on how her vision impairment has affected her career. “I used to find it very easy to learn lines and remember them. I could do the whole of [William Shakespeare’s] Twelfth Night right now.”
In recent years, she has found new ways to continue her work in Hollywood productions and began advocating for sight loss charities and research.
“You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult,” Judi continued. “I’ve had to find another way of learning lines and things, which is having great friends of mine repeat them to me over and over and over again. So, I have to learn through repetition, and I just hope that people won’t notice too much if all the lines are completely hopeless!”
Luckily for Judi, she’s had some supportive costars along the way to help her out.
“I was doing The Winter’s Tale with Kenneth Branagh a couple of years ago, playing Paulina, and after we had been running for three weeks or so at the Garrick, he said to me — I have a long speech at the end — he said: ‘Judi, if you were to say that speech about eight feet to your right, you’d be saying it to me and not to the pros.'”
As always, Judi has kept an optimistic attitude about her ailment as she looks forward to new Hollywood projects. The English star has a tattoo on her wrist to remind her to always push through her biggest challenges.
“I have an irrational fear of boredom,” she said. “That’s why I now have this tattoo that says carpe diem. That’s what we should live by.”