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Judi Dench Calls Cats Costume 'Like Five Foxes Fucking On My Back'

Illustration for article titled Judi Dench Calls iCats/i Costume Like Five Foxes Fucking On My Back
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Dame Judi Dench is British Vogue’s June cover star—and at 85, the oldest celebrity ever to have the honor. The story within is a charming celebration of the legend, with her sharp wit littered throughout. I laughed when she referred to her 1999 Oscar-winning performance as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love as “eight quick minutes with bad teeth”; and when she revealed that her first tattoo was the phrase “carpe diem” on her wrist, done on her 81st birthday. She’s never verbose, describing herself in quick quips like, “I can be very difficult, if somebody takes me for granted.” In honor of her characteristic mischievousness, here are a few of her best quotes from the piece:

On her role in Cats, which she still has yet to see:

“The cloak I was made to wear! Like five foxes fucking on my back.”

On aging, and what she enjoys about being 85 years old:

“Nothing. I don’t like it at all. I don’t think about it. I don’t want to think about it. They say age is an attitude… it’s horrible. I saw Mags – Maggie Smith – the other day, and she said, ‘My god, I think they’re going to stop me driving my car.’ It’s the most terrible shock to your system. Ghastly. It’s terrible to be so dependent on people.”

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On her marriage to actor Michael Williams:

She married Williams on the second [propsoal] because the first time he asked her they were on tour in Australia, and she told him she couldn’t trust any proposal when the weather was so nice. “We had better wait for a rainy day in Battersea,” she told him, so he did. Low-key, theirs was one of the great actor love stories of the 20th century. They often worked together, notably in the hit sitcom A Fine Romance, and had legendary rows – but mostly they laughed. “He used to cry when he laughed,” she recalls, smiling. “The more he laughed the more he cried. Oh god, he made me laugh.”

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On Harvey Weinstein:

“My sympathies go to anybody who went through an experience like that,” she says of the convicted rapist’s victims. “It’s very upsetting.” On some level it’s clear she is still computing it; to have so misjudged a boss and friend. “It’s good that things come to the surface and are spoken about and people feel a kind of freedom, I’m sure.” Were you ever sexually harassed in your own career? “No,” she says, adding obliquely, “not something that I wasn’t able to deal with.” She’s becoming increasingly uneasy, and so we move on.

On retirement:

But how do you feel about retirement, I ask casually. Immediately, it is as if the sun has gone behind a cloud. “No, no, no, no. Don’t use that word, Giles. Not in this house. Not here. Wash your mouth out!” Her voice becomes its most electric to quote Dylan Thomas. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” she booms, with all the skill and force of her RSC days. It’s quite something. “Never was a truer word spoken,” she adds. “Pretty depressing. Anyway…”

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Additionally, there’s this charming video in which Dench answers questions from her most famous fans, including telling Stormzy about the time she rapped with grime pioneer Lethal Bizzle. I couldn’t make this up if I tried:

Read the full article here.

This post’s headline has been updated to more accurately reflect Dench’s quote.

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Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

There’s a big difference between “five fucking foxes on my back” and “five foxes fucking on my back.” I’ll go with Dame Judy’s quote.