Judi Dench: found family during film production

Dame Judi Dench got more than she bargained for during the making of her latest movie, Philomena. She got to meet some long-lost cousins.

Judi Dench

It’s quite an ironic story when you consider the film she was making at the time. Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Steve Coogan, the film is based on a true story about a world weary political journalist (Coogan) who picks up a human interest story about Dench’s character, Philomena Lee. Examining the repercussions of Ireland’s strict religious policies, Philomena is searching for her son decades after he was forcibly adopted because she had fallen pregnant out of wedlock.

Playing an Irish woman, with an Irish accent, Judi Dench credits her Irish roots for the success of her performance.

“My mother is from Dublin and all my relations are from Dublin,” she explained recently to Cover Media during a press conference for the BFI London Film Festival. It turns out she has more family over in Ireland than she initially realised.

“We went to Rostrevor to film and we did some shots and I got out to change cars. This man said, ‘You know you’ve got cousins in this town? They’re coming to see you in a minute!’ I’m sorry we didn’t go to a lot more places; we could have found some more cousins!”

That must have been a bizarre experience.

Philomena is being released in UK cinemas 1 November, and while the film will certainly touch your heart, Dench and Coogan have made sure there is comedy to be found too. She spoke to the real Philomena to not only understand the ordeal she went through in finding her son, but to also understand her sense of humour.

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