Judi Dench’s heartbreak as she reveals why one director once said she’d ‘never make a film'

Dame Judi Dench was once better known for her work in the theater though she's gone on to achieve major movie success...

Judi Dench "never make a film" comment revealed, seen here attending the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland
(Image credit: Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty)

Dame Judi Dench has revealed the surprising reason why one director reportedly once told the acting legend that she’d “never make a film”. 

Acclaimed star of stage and screen Judi Dench has won everything from an Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love to an astonishing seven BAFTAs and is frequently thought of by Brits as a national treasure. She’s also led an extraordinary life and has been candid about many personal topics. Over the years Judi Dench has discussed having an active sex life in her 80s and Judi Dench’s eyesight since being diagnosed with macular degeneration is something she’s also been open about. 

Now Dame Judi has shared the rather shocking revelation that one director once predicted she’d “never make” a movie - for a surprising reason.

Dame Judi Dench attends the British Academy Film Awards 2022 Fundraising Gala Dinner

(Image credit: Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Judi explained that back in the 1960s she had been turned down for a part in a film by a director whose identity she chose to keep anonymous. At the time of the rejection the acting star was primarily known for her remarkable work in the theater and on TV rather than in movies. 

And according to Judi, this was something the unnamed director reportedly believed would continue to be the case. Although she supposedly didn’t harbor a burning desire to become a screen icon at the time, she attended the audition, only to apparently be told that her face was “wrong”. 

“He was perfectly nice,” she claimed, reflecting upon the director. “But at the end he said, ‘You’ll never make a film. You have the wrong face.’” 

“And I said that is fine, I don’t like film anyway. I want to go back to the theater,” Judi added. 

However, this wasn’t to be the end of Dame Judi’s foray into the movie business and she went on to make her first lead role film debut three decades later. This was perhaps one of her most unforgettable roles to date - that of Queen Victoria opposite comedy legend Billy Connolly in Mrs Brown. 

Dame Judi went on to play Queen Victoria again in the 2017 movie Victoria & Abdul. She’s also appeared as M in multiple instalments in the James Bond franchise, as well as Chocolat, recent release Belfast and Kenneth Branagh’s all-star adaptation Murder on the Orient Express, to name just a few of her movies. 

So despite the “perfectly nice” way in which one director reportedly told her six decades ago that he couldn’t see her making a film in light of her having the “wrong face”, Dame Judi has risen to become one of the most recognizable film and theater actors around.

Dame Judi Dench attends the World Premiere of "NO TIME TO DIE"

(Image credit: Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures)

She also reflected to The Sunday Times that there are a “lot of films” of hers she’s never seen, concerned that she would be “irritated” by her performance. Though if there’s one she would watch again it’s Mrs Brown, Judi revealed, expressing admiration for Billy Connolly.

“Well, he is brilliant. I could watch Mrs Brown again. But there are a lot of my films I haven’t seen. Maybe I will one day, when I’ve forgotten a bit more about them,” the Oscar winner declared.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!