At the age of 85 and with a big-screen career that now spans seven decades, it would take a lot for esteemed British actress Judi Dench — a seven-time Oscar nominee and a winner for her supporting role as Queen Elizabeth I in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love” — to be rattled by a harsh critique.
Which is why she isn’t all that concerned that her participation in last year’s misbegotten film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s stage musical “Cats” has led her to qualify for a Golden Raspberry or, as it is nicknamed, a Razzie. She kept her claws to herself when John Wilson, the host of BBC 4’s “Front Row,” broached the subject of the backlash to “Cats” and her nomination for Worst Supporting Actress.
While the coronavirus has shut down a live even, the organizers of the 40th edition of the Razzies are planning to get the news out about the unlucky winners in some fashion on March 14. According to Gold Derby odds, Dench’s co-star Rebel Wilson is expected to take home the Worst Supporting Actress title.
In the film, Dench plays Old Deuteronomy, a wise old Jellicle who is usually played by a male actor on the stage. Critics were most alarmed by the special effects, some of which featured bloopers. That includes a scene where Dame Judi’s puss lacks a paw and instead her wedding ring is there on her human hand for all to see. Not that the esteemed actress has seen the movie yet nor has she read much about the harsh reaction. As she told the TV host, “I didn’t read anything about the response to it nor have I seen it.”
When she saw a picture of herself as a feline, who for some reason also wears a fur coat, she was surprised by how Deuteronomy turned out. “I thought I was playing a really kind of clapped out, mangy old cat who didn’t have much fur and was at the end of her life. I didn’t realize it was this wonderful show cat.”
As for the news that she was up for such a dishonorable prize for her secondary role, she responded quite pleasantly: “Oh am I? As the worst supporting actor? That would be good. As far as I know, that’s a first. Very, very good.” That’s one classy way to brush off such negativity.
The one downside to the rather vicious notices aimed at director Tom Hooper‘s second attempt at a movie musical after 2012 hit “Les Miserables,” which is up for nine Razzies in total, is that Dench was somewhat hoping that her participation would make up for a past disappointment. She was supposed to play Jennyanydots as well as Grizabella, who sings “Memory,” in the original 1981 stage production in London’s West End. But then Dench went and snapped her achilles tendon, which required plaster. She tried to still perform as Grizabella, but ended up falling off the stage. And that was the end of that.
Given her response to her first-ever Razzie bid, maybe just being nominated would make for a pleasant memory after all.