Judi Dench tears up during candid Louis Theroux chat about her late husband

Judi Dench opened up about her late husband Michael Williams who passed away in 2001 from lung cancer

Judi Dench teared up
(Image credit: Andreas Rentz / Staff / Getty Images)

Judi Dench teared up as she opened up about her late husband Michael Williams who passed away in 2001.

Taking part in an interview with Louis Theroux as part of his series, Louis Theroux Interviews... Judi teared up when the subject turned to her late husband who passed away from lung cancer after 30 years of marriage. 

Judi pointed to a painting of her husband Michael that was painted 'a year or two before he died'. The Dame pointed out the armchair that she had still sitting in her sitting room that was featured in the painting and the pair began to speak about her late husband who she married in 1971. 

"Your marriage to Michael Williams was well known for being, well a happy marriage," said Louis. "Very," replied Judi. 

Louis asked, "What was it about him do you think, and what was the foundation of the relationship, because I'm always curious about successful marriages."

"Couldn't tell you really, sense of humor, probably mostly." The couple worked together often and were best known for their collaboration on the sitcom A Fine Romance. Judi then reminisced as she added, "Michael used to laugh, and when he laughed he used to cry. I think mostly that. Interested in the same things of course but I mean what is it? It's impossible to tell."

Judi Dench

(Image credit: Len Trievnor / Stringer / Getty Images)

Judi then spoke about how much she enjoyed working with her husband and joked about how they bought their home in Surrey using the money they had earned on a Clover butter advert that featured Judi and Michael. The production team showed Judi the old advert and she laughed and claimed she had 'no recollection whatsoever' of the ads but exclaimed 'Good old Clover butter!'

Louis then became more serious as he spoke about Michael's death in 2001 after a struggle with lung cancer. "You were together from '71 to 2001," said Louis. "Are you OK talking about how it came to an end, how he came to die?"

"Well, he wasn't well... I'm not good at it, actually," said Judi as she took a pause to collect herself. "Yes, he died in 2001 of lung cancer. Smoking you see, all that smoking when we were young," she added with a gentle smile. 

Judi revealed how she found out he was near the end while she was in the US. "I was in New York and they said he was not well. My agent flew out and we came back on Concorde the next day and it aborted take-off. We got off and we went back and said, 'Oh, it'll be alright'. We got on another plane and the same thing happened. It was a long long time to get back," said the actress.

"We were back and got back here and so we were all in the house together and that was very, very good indeed," said Judi as she looked down for a moment before making eye contact with Louis.

The actress then spoke about how throwing herself into her work helped her to cope with his death at such a young age, "At least you're getting on and thinking of something else," said Judi.

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Near the end of the interview, Judi and Louis were joined by Judi's daughter Finty and her grandson Sam - who encouraged his grandmother to take part in TikTok videos during the UK's lockdown.

The full interview is currently available to view on BBC iPlayer, and there are a number of other episodes expected from the broadcast journalist as the series continues.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.