Judi Dench Says Heath Struggle Makes Acting 'Impossible'

Judi Dench's worsening eyesight is making it "impossible" for her to continue acting, she revealed in a recent interview. Dench, 88, struggles with macular degeneration, which is causing her to lose her sight. The Oscar-winner spoke about her experiences with the condition during a stop on The Graham Norton Show Friday.

"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," Dench said, reports Entertainment Weekly. "I used to find it very easy to learn lines and remember them. I could do the whole of Twelfth Night right now."

During an event for the Vision Foundation, a London sight-loss charity, in February 2021, Dench explained how she learned to adapt to the condition. "You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult," Dench explained, via The Guardian. "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!"

Dench also shared a funny anecdote about working with Kenneth Branagh on a production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. She played Paulina, which required her to perform a long speech at the end. Banagh "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' arch,'" Dench said with a laugh. "I rely on people to tell me!"

Dench is an eight-time Oscar nominee, earning her first in for Mrs. Brown (1997). She won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998). Her most recent nomination came for Best Supporting Actress for Branagh's Belfast (2021). In 1999, she won a Tony Award for Amy's View and has seven Olivier awards for her work on the London stage. Last year, she had a cameo in Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds' Christmas comedy Spirited and starred in Richard Eyre's film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play Allelujah.