Judi Dench says there was ‘no mucking about’ on Bond set

Dame Judi Dench has shed some light on what it’s like to film a James Bond movie.

The legendary British actor played the role of M in eight Bond movies, beginning in 1995 with GoldenEye and ending in 2015’s Spectre.

As the chief of M16, M was known to be a stern, focused character.

In a new cover interview for Good Housekeeping, it was revealed that M’s character rubbed off on Dench for one film in particular, as the actor was starring alongside her long-time friend and fellow stage star Brendan O’Hea.

Though the actor and director was a minor character in the 2008 film, a forensics tech, O’Hea was around enough to note a change in Dench’s demeanour.

Brendan O’Hea and Dame Judi Dench (Good Housekeeping / David Gubert)
Brendan O’Hea and Dame Judi Dench (Good Housekeeping / David Gubert)

He told the publication: “Yes, Quantum of Solace. That’s when I saw Jude’s serious side. She said, ‘I won’t be mucking about on that – I’m very serious on the Bond films.’ She didn’t even crack a smile.”

Dench concurred: “No, not one. I took that role very seriously indeed.”

Dench and O’Hea recently released their book, Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent, which details the Philomena star’s relationship with and appreciation of the Bard.

“Because we’re old friends, it was just like having a very relaxed chat – or a long series of them,” she noted of the experience working with O’Hea. “Brendan would come to my house, put his recorder on, and we’d talk about all these wonderful memories.”

O’Hea added: “Oh God, yes. I’ve got recordings of Jude trying to see how much popcorn she can fit in her mouth and then laughing. She never misses an opportunity to muck about.”

Dame Judi Dench (Good Housekeeping / David Gubert)
Dame Judi Dench (Good Housekeeping / David Gubert)

Elsewhere in the interview, Dench revealed the most outrageous trick she’d ever played.

“My old driver and I started the rumour that the Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner was actually a Tesco Metro and only The Royal Family were allowed to use it,” the Best Gold Marigold Hotel star admitted.

“How handy it was, right in front of Buckingham Palace!”

Dench also spoke about the serenity she gets from focusing on the current moment, rather than looking ahead to the future.

“If you start looking ahead, you miss the bits that are happening now,” she reasoned.

“I find it very hard to talk about two or three days’ time; I think, ‘No, no, no, this bit is lovely.’ That’s not to say you don’t prepare for things in the way that we have to, but I think it’s a pity if you waste the moment. Life is too short.”

The January 2024 issue of Good Housekeeping is on sale now.