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Judi Dench Receives IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in Dublin



Legendary Oscar-winning actress, Judi Dench, was honoured in Dublin on July 6th by IFTA and presented with the prestigious IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award at a special Academy event held at the Shelbourne Hotel.  The event, hosted by Academy CEO Áine Moriarty, took the form of an intimate ‘In Conversation’ with Deirdre O’Kane in front of a captivated audience of Academy Members and invited guests. Judi was then presented with her IFTA Lifetime Award by Minister Catherine Martin TD.

The engaging conversation between Dame Judi and Deirdre included funny and insightful anecdotes from her illustrious career, and stories from behind the scenes across her various achievements and iconic collaborations on stage and screen over several decades. The audience was also invited to pose questions to the iconic actress.

Speaking about her return to Dublin, where her parents grew up, Judi joked that “Most of my relations are here, probably in this room.”

Some high profile co-stars of Judi from throughout the years, also wanted to be part of the celebrations and sent wonderful messages that were played out in the room, with Cate Blanchett saying “You're a miracle. You're kind, you're generous… you’re wicked.” Olivia Colman reflected on their collaboration in Murder on the Orient Express and said “Judi is the greatest. She embodies every part effortlessly, with a lightness of touch. She is captivating…”

Dame Judi’s Belfast co-star Ciaran Hinds congratulated Judi and spoke on behalf of the Irish Academy saying: “We are thrilled not only that you’ve accepted it, but we feel very honoured to be able to offer it to you.”  He went on to emotionally recall his own mother seeing Judi perform on stage for the first time in London, and telling him about this wonderful actress: “‘She’s not very big, but she packs one hell of a punch.’ And when Kenneth Branagh asked me to play opposite you, he probably had no idea how nervous, excited, embarrassed, thrilled I was to get to work with you. It was one of the great moments of my life.”

Caitríona Balfe, who also starred in Belfast alongside Judi, added “Working with you has been one of the highlights of my career. I got to witness firsthand your kindness, your light, your incredible talent and, of course, your wicked sense of humour. From stage to television and film, you have inspired us, you have moved us and you are a true, true legend.”

Deirdre and Judi spoke about the role luck plays in artistic success: “It’s so much a question of luck, and I don’t believe that the people who can act and are employed, and the people who ‘can’t’ act and are not employed… I think it’s really a question of being in a certain place at a certain time”.

Judi shared some advice for young actors: “Just see as much as you can. Only by watching and learning things, and perhaps you see something that doesn’t work so well, and make up your mind about why you think that, and keep the fingers crossed for good luck.”

Judi spoke of the pressure of becoming the first woman to play M in the iconic James Bond franchise in the 1990s: “You have never seen two more frightened people than me and Pierce Brosnan”. She also addressed her lifelong passion for Shakespeare which has inspired her upcoming book.

Remarking on the experience of playing Irishwoman Philomena Lee, in the 2013 film Philomena, Judi said: “She had a remarkable sense of humour - of course she’s not going to be sad all the time!  It was a way-in for me.”

Of her role in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, filmed during COVID-19, she praised “the care everybody took and the way we were able to do it. It was such an incredible story” and joked “That was a difficult accent.” Of her Belfast co-star Ciaran Hinds she warmly said “We had the most glorious time, a really wonderful time.”