Dame Judi Dench has told how she cried when Bond producers told her that her character M was being killed off.
The veteran York-born actress played the MI6 chief in seven Bond films but her character met her demise in Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, in 2012.
She told Radio Times magazine that Bond bosses broke the news over a meal in London’s West End.
“They told me gently and I laughed through my tears. Seven (Bond) films is a long time. But MI6 would have given her the push by now, don’t you think?”, she said.
The actress, who turns 80 today, said that her late husband, actor Michael Williams, encouraged her to sign up for the Bond films.
“He wanted to live with a Bond woman. ‘Oh God, oh crikey,’ he said, ‘you’ve got to do it. I’m living with a Bond woman!’”
It was announced last week that the title of the next James Bond film, the 24th and the first since the demise of Dame Judi as M, will be Spectre.
Director Sam Mendes revealed the title at a launch event at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Daniel Craig will play 007 for the fourth time in the film, to be released in the UK on 23 October 2015.
Dame Judi, who stars opposite Hollywood actor Dustin Hoffman in the BBC’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot this Christmas, also revealed that she was helping to fund the next generation of aspiring actors.
“I don’t know how many letters I get each week, saying, ‘Can you sponsor me through drama school?’,” she told the magazine.
“There are no reps anywhere any more. There’s very little work, young actors have to get something and hope that it’s a success.
“They go to an audition and now nobody ever writes afterwards to say, ‘It was a terrific meeting, I’m so sorry it hasn’t worked out this time.’
“There’s a complete silence. What is your encouragement as a young actor? Where do you go to learn? Where do you get to make the mistakes?”
The Oscar-winner was once told that she did not have the right face for film and said that she still feels “rather self-conscious about how I look.”
She said that she disliked being called a national treasure, saying: “Sometimes I think I’m given an award for being that word (old) we don’t say.”