Judi tells of Oscar delight

Dame Judi Dench today told of her joy at learning she had been nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of author Iris Murdoch.

Dame Judi Dench today told of her joy at learning she had been nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of author Iris Murdoch.

The 67-year-old actress said she was ‘‘thrilled’’ - and believed Iris co-star Jim Broadbent should scoop the Best Actor award.

And she laughed off reported comments by actress Minnie Driver, who described her as ‘‘very small, round and middle-aged’’, saying: ‘‘I don’t think she made those comments.’’

Dame Judi is already an Oscar winner, taking the best supporting actress award for her role in Shakespeare in Love, and has two other previous nominations for Academy Awards.

But today she said: ‘‘I was very excited. It is not what you are nominated for - that doesn’t matter.

‘‘This film very nearly didn’t get made and so the excitement about it is that we got it made and three of us got nominated.’’

Broadbent was nominated for the best actor award for playing John Bailey, Murdoch’s husband, as he tried to cope with her Alzheimer’s disease, while Kate Winslet is one of the contenders for best supporting actress for playing the young Iris Murdoch.

But Dame Judi said co-star Hugh Bonneville, who played the young Bailey, and director Richard Eyre should also have been on the Oscar shortlist.

‘‘It should have been four - it should have been Hugh too, and Richard for that matter, but we did get it made,’’ she said.

‘‘You think you see, we came up with a small domestic film’ - it’s terrific.’’

Broadbent was the shock winner of the Golden Globe for best actor last month, and was so surprised at his win, he had no speech prepared.

Dame Judi said she usually steered clear of Oscar predictions, but thought the almost unknown British actor could repeat his success.

‘‘I think I would put money on Jim getting it. I would put money on that,’’ she said.

The actress also brushed aside Minnie Driver’s reported description of her as ‘‘very small, round and middle-aged’’. The actress later denied making the comments, or saying of Dame Judi: ‘‘Here she would melt into the crowd in a second.’’

Today Dame Judi said: ‘‘I do not think she made those comments. I think they were reported that way.

‘‘I do know the question she was asked and she is quite right, we cast against type in England. We do it much more than they do in America.

"It is a fact. I do not know whether it is a strength. Maybe it is because we have a huge theatre heritage.’’

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