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“It’s a nightmare!” Dame Judi Dench on getting the accent for new movie ‘Belfast’

Today’s This Morning saw hosts Phillip Schofield and Rochelle Humes speak with one of their all time favourites - Dame Judi Dench.

Following the cooking item, Judi smiled, “And I now know how to make cinnamon buns!”

When asked if she knew how to do them before seeing the food demo with chef Juliet Sear, Dame Judi replied, “No, I’m the worst cook in Britain!”

After viewers got to see clips of her new film Belfast, Judi explained how the film came about with Kenneth Branagh. She said:

“He said ‘I want to come over and read you something I’ve written recently’ and I said ‘absolutely’ and we arranged a day and he arrived and he sat down and he read it to me without a break, and I sat there completely riveted. And as I’m sure you know, it’s the story of his childhood in Belfast being brought up during the troubles.”

She added: “It seemed to be quite easy and calm [for him to read this to me] but then there was a moment when I just remembered there was a very, very long pause and we were both completely quiet during it, and it was for Kenny very emotional and certainly for me too. But he went on and got to the end… but there was no question in my mind that I wanted to play his grandmother. I initially said, ‘I’m much too young to play your grandmother’ but of course it turned out I wasn’t at all!”

On her role and playing alongside Ciaran Hinds as the grandfather figure, Dame Judi admitted:

“I had admired Ciaran Hinds for a long, long time but we’d never worked together, but there was something about the fact that we were at the beginning of lockdown and we were suddenly able and allowed to do this film with incredible care taken of everybody - we were tested every single day - every member of the crew and the cast, so in a way because we were all released of this oppressive feeling, we became a family very quickly. It was amazingly helpful.”

Of the young actor Jude Hill who was just nine-years-old when the filming took place, Judi said:

“He is outstanding and can show us all the way home - he was so fantastic at taking direction, completely like an actor who had had 25 years’ worth of experience. I believe he’s an Irish dancer, but he was a complete natural and always full of energy and no complaints and enormous fun to be with.”

She went on to agree with the hosts that he’ll be a big star, but also admitted, “And don’t you think that could've been Ken as a little boy?”

Talking of her own Irish roots, Dame Judi revealed:

“My mother was born in Dublin, my father went from Dorset when he was born to Dublin with the family, so all my relations are in Dublin and West and my grandmother I think was born in County Meath. And after the war, we were all in Yorkshire - I was about ten or 11 - and my parents said ‘we’re going to see a film called ‘The Night Boat to Dublin’ and I thought ‘Oh how exciting!’ But it wasn’t a film at all, we were going on the night boat to Dublin and that’s when we went back and that’s when they went back for the first time. I can remember very clearly coming into the harbour and can sense now the incredibly strong emotion as that happened.”

On getting the Belfast accent, Judi laughed,“It’s a nightmare! I had an uncle who lived in Belfast who was much younger than me and he came over and stayed with us in York and he used to say this little rhyme and I used to make him repeat this little rhyme… and I used to say that every day before filming! But I used to get pulled up on it all the time like a naughter girl in class [with them saying] ‘no, that’s not right’...”

To watch the item in full:

This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV and ITV Hub

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