A truly great actor has the ability to seamlessly transform themselves from one character to the next in a way that makes it look easy. A living legend does that, too—but also isn’t afraid to tell you about the time the horse they were riding while filming an emotional scene floated a serious air biscuit.
Dame Judi Dench—Oscar winner, owner of many BAFTA awards, Shakespearean legend, and all-around classy lady—spent some time discussing her career on the That’s After Life podcast. When the conversation turned to Mrs. Brown, the 1997 movie that earned Dench her first (of seven) Academy Award nominations, Dench recalled how much fun she had shooting with “cheeky chappy” Billy Connolly. In the film, Dench portrays Queen Victoria who, in the years following Prince Albert’s death, found comfort—and courted scandal—in the close relationship she had with her personal attendant, John Brown (played by Connolly).
Dench explained that while they were filming at Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s holiday home on the Isle of Wight, a gassy horse made it hard for her to keep in royal character. While filming a deadly serious scene in which Victoria attempts to express her feelings for Brown, Dench is riding a horse side-saddle.
“I got on to this pony, which I had to do from a pair of library stairs because riding side saddle is one thing, but riding side saddle in a corset with an enormously heavy costume,” she explained. “But the poor pony, for goodness sake, all one side, and as we walked… the pony farted at every single step we took. And Billy said, ‘Is that you? Is it you?’” According to The Daily Mail, the scene had to be filmed a number of times in order to leave no audible trace of equine emissions.
While Dench had her fair share of laughs on the Mrs. Brown set, she made sure to note later in the interview that acting is not an easy business. “I don’t think it is ever easy. It can be gloriously good fun and it can be fiendishly difficult.”
(Via The Daily Mail)