Why has Judi Dench defended “wonderful” Kevin Spacey?

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Susan Devaney
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Judi Dench has criticised Kevin Spacey’s removal from films, causing more than a little controversy. 

Judi Dench is a national treasure. Thanks to her soothing distinctive voice, love of trees and captivating acting abilities, she’s up there with the likes of David Attenborough.

Not to mention the fact that she’s got a back catalogue of film work that’s nothing short of remarkable. She won us over long ago as M in the James Bond franchise. And she taught us more than a few life lessons as Evelyn Greenslade in The Best Marigold Hotel.

In short: we’ve all fallen in love with her – both off and onscreen.

Which is why her recent remarks have caused more than a little controversy and upset.

Speaking at San Sebastian Film Festival this week, where she received a lifetime achievement award, Dench defended fellow actor Kevin Spacey, calling him “wonderful” as he faces several sexual misconduct allegations (all of which he denies).

Dench then went on to criticise Spacey’s removal from several films. “I can’t approve, in any way, of the fact – whatever he has done – that you then start to cut him out of films,” she said.

Earlier this year, the actor’s scenes were removed from the Ridley Scott film, All the Money in the World (and re-shot with Christopher Plummer) and he was cut from Netflix’s House of Cards.

“Are we to go back throughout history now and anyone who has misbehaved in any way, or has broken the law, or has committed some kind of offence, are they always going to be cut out?” she told reporters.

“Are we going to exclude them from our history? I don’t know about any of the conditions of it, but nevertheless I think he is, and was, a most wonderful actor… and a good friend.”

This week, Dench received a lifetime achievement award

But people – like Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein – must face the consequences of their actions. And that includes losing jobs, missing out on awards and being written out of history. Otherwise, this type of inexcusable behaviour toward women and men will continue into each and every decade going forth.

And it’s not the first time Dench has spoken about the effect of #MeToo and Time’s Up initiative. Earlier this year at the premiere of the Murder on the Orient Express, Dench aired her concerns for her fellow actors then, too.

“It is scandalous, but it’s very hard when a lot of people concerned are great friends of yours,” she said at the time. “I feel loyal to them, and at the same time, I feel appalled by what has happened to a lot of young actresses who had no way of getting out.”

But Dench’s comments appear to fall in line with several other actresses of the same generation – like Catherine Deneuve. Earlier this year, the French actress signed an open letter, along with 100 other female French writers, performers and academics, calling the wave of sexual allegations made against men in the film industry a “witch-hunt” and a threat against sexual freedom.

In the past, Dench has even admitted her refusal to call herself a feminist. “I wouldn’t call myself a feminist at all, really,” she said. “I don’t know what a feminist is. I believe in women having a say.”

Dench also revealed that Spacey once provided her with great comfort during a hard period in her life. The pair, who starred together in the 2001 film, The Shipping News, developed a close friendship as Spacey comforted her after the death of her husband, saying Spacey was “a good friend” and an “inestimable comfort” who kept her going while they were on set.

And her remarks have received a range of reactions on Twitter. 

Jean-Pierre Leduc praised her for “speaking her mind” and that people “should be given second chances”.

Another user has also backed Dench’s comments, calling Spacey’s removal from films as a “callous, unfair, unjustified move”.

While others have aired their disgust at her remarks. 

Yes, Dench has been brutally honest with her heartfelt remarks – but that doesn’t mean that Spacey (or any other person) should be let off the hook. 

Images: Getty