Dame Judi Dench is one of the stars of the latest Murder on the Orient Express. She talks to Michele Manelis.

Have you been on the Orient Express?

No but I actually gave my daughter and her chap seats to go on the Orient Express this year sometime. Then I thought, it might be quite fun to go too, to muscle in on them and travel as well, to Venice hopefully.

What do you remember most about the shoot?


I did a lot of sitting about in the Orient Express with some quite nice clothes, a lot of jewels and two nice dogs with me. I had very few lines and I had the most glorious time.

How do you like to relax?

I paint a bit. I see my family and friends because now I can't read anymore and I can't easily watch anything because I can't see so well. I've always liked being with my friends and my family best of all. We play cards or other kinds of games.

Do you see a difference between how Europeans treat their elderly compared to other countries?

I'm not sure. Because I'm only 49 and very, very tall and blonde and willowy.

One of the positives about getting older is that you get wiser. Have you found that to be the case?

I don't think I've got any more sensible or any more grown-up. I found a card the other day that said "Don't grow up. It's against the rules." I thought, "How wonderful!" I know more about things now but I don't think I apply them.

Regardless of age you've continued to work.

Yes. I'm incredibly grateful that at my age I am asked to work, and in fact yesterday I was 60 years on the stage to the day. It's called luck, especially in this business.

You work with many different people on each movie. Are you a person who instantly clicks with a lot of people or does it take time for you to bond?

I'm rather susceptible to people. Yes, lots of times I have that feeling of, "I understand this person, they understand me," and that happens quickly.

You've played many royals - it seems for the most part they can't live the way they'd like to because they're so restricted.

I do think that it must be the most difficult thing in the world. The prospect of having to be on duty every single day. I can't imagine anything worse. And also you don't choose it, it's something you're born into and yet it's your entire responsibility all the time every day. I often think, "No wonder the Queen must love going up to Balmoral in August."

What are you like when you have to deal with powerful people? That happens a lot in your profession.

Yes, you have to deal with a lot of bossy people but that's a bit different, isn't it than people who are powerful? They're just people who think they've got power because they are bossing you about a lot.

Do you like adhering to certain routines every day?

No. Every day hopefully is different. Hopefully. I would die of boredom otherwise.

What is one of life's most important lessons?

To never stop learning. I don't want to be told I can't do something. I'll just have a go at it. I learn a new word every single day and I've been doing that for many years.

What about drinking tea? What's your favourite?

I hate Earl Grey tea, it's like drinking perfume. In India I found this very thin mixture of Assam tea without any milk but with honey and it gives you a tremendous energy and I like it a lot. Despite what you might think, I'm not a great connoisseur of tea. Being British, I should be, shouldn't I? I always say, "Would you like a cup of tea?" That's in our nature. But what we might rather say is, "Would you like a glass of champagne?"