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Emmys 2017
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EW chats with Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith

EW chats with Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith — We talk with the acclaimed British actresses about their new film ”Ladies in Lavender,” their close friendship, and squeaky shoes

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Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith met nearly 50 years ago as novice members of London’s Old Vic Theatre. The two — perhaps Britain’s greatest living actresses — have since worked together several times, forming a close friendship. In Ladies in Lavender, Dench and Smith reunite on film for the first time since 1999’s Tea With Mussolini as sisters who take in a shipwrecked violin player in pre-WWII Cornwall. The Dames joined EW for tea. English breakfast, of course.

Maggie, I hear you’ve been calling this movie ”Lavender Bags”? MS I have indeed. [Both laugh] A term for an old bat is an old bag. [Pauses] Need I go further?

Does being friends make working together easier?

MS We know the danger areas of what might make us shriek with uncontrollable laughter. Which sometimes can be anything.

JD I had the most squeaky pair of shoes in this film. I only had to walk across the room, and it was this loud noise. . .[like] crickets! [Laughs] But it’s something we know about the timing, too. Maybe it’s just because we’re very, very old and have done it all!

MS I think that’s very likely.

Is stage or film more satisfying?

JD They’re such different things. Also [in theater] you have to have a kind of control. . .

MS Am I listening to this person?! Control? Jude! How do you have the nerve to say that? [Cackles with delight]

JD We’ve had some very tricky moments on stage. [Laughs] But it is true, isn’t it? Whereas a [film] take can get messed up, and you go back and do it again. And again and again.

MS But you can’t remake a film. You’re stuck with it forever.

Are there any of your movies you’d like to remake?

MS All of them. You see them and think, why on earth. . .?

JD It’s frustrating. I know my bathroom has had the best performances I’ve given, word-perfect, without laughing. And what’s to hear? The soap and the taps.