Dame Judi Dench surprised the media at a film festival in Spain by sharing a fond memory of working with “good friend” Kevin Spacey.
The British acting legend is set to be honored for her career achievements at the San Sebastian International Film Festival on Tuesday night (25Sep18), and during a pre-ceremony press conference, she was asked to share memorable moments from her life.
To many reporters’ surprise, Dench opened up about how kind Spacey had been to her following the 2001 loss of her husband of 30 years, Michael Williams, and credited the 59 year old with helping her push through the tough time.
“I remember just after my husband died, and I was in a bad way, I went to do The Shipping News (film) with Kevin Spacey, and Kevin was an inestimable comfort and never mentioned he knew I was in a bad way,” she remembered, according to Variety. “He cheered me up and kept me going.”
The choice of anecdote was interesting considering Spacey’s rapid fall from grace last year (17), after he was accused of sexually assaulting actor Anthony Rapp years ago, when his alleged victim was a teenager.
The gay Oscar winner has since faced a string of additional allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment, sparking police investigations in London and Los Angeles, and prompting director Ridley Scott to recast Christopher Plummer in Spacey’s role in kidnap drama All the Money in the World ahead of its release last December (17).
Although Dench has distanced herself from Spacey’s reported dirty deeds, she does not believe the scandal should tarnish his performances in critically-acclaimed films like The Usual Suspects, American Beauty, and L.A. Confidential.
“I can’t approve, in any way, of the fact that – whatever he has done – that you then start to cut him out of the films,” she commented. “Are we to do what happened when he was replaced with Christopher Plummer? Are we to do that throughout history? Are we to go back throughout history and anyone who has misbehaved in any way, or who has broken the law, or who has committed some kind of offence, are they always going to be cut out? Are we going to extrude them from our history? I don’t know.”
“I don’t know about the conditions of it, but nevertheless he is, and was, a most wonderful actor,” she mused. “I can’t imagine what he is doing now.”
Dench then paused, as she defiantly concluded her remarks about Spacey by calling him “a good friend”.
The actress was then asked to weigh in on the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements against sexual misconduct, which arose following the multitude of accusations made against producer Harvey Weinstein in October, 2017.
“I think there are many things to be redressed and made right,” Dench said of the campaigns. “It is an extraordinary moment of change, a sea change at the moment. And there many more parts for women, which is very good indeed, and long may that go on.”
Dench will receive the San Sebastian International Film Festival’s Donostia Award prior to a screening of her new Trevor Nunn spy film Red Joan, in which she plays a woman whose life is suddenly disrupted when she’s arrested by government agents and accused of providing intelligence to Communist Russia.