For One Knight Only: What We Learned About Judi, Maggie, Ian & Derek in Their Kneeling Zoom | Theater

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Tthey are, according to their friend Kenneth Branagh, “the greatest quartet of Shakespearean actors on the planet”. And on Sunday night, for the For One Knight Only charity rally, hosted by Branagh on Zoom, Ladies Maggie Smith and Judi Dench joined with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi to share trivia, tell Christmas jokes and talk a little about towards. . It was pure thespian gold – here are a handful of revelations.

Ian McKellen shared the stage with a ghost …
At least that’s what Patrick Stewart told him. While they were halfway through Waiting for Godot at the Theater Royal Haymarket 10 years ago, Stewart turned to McKellen and “his face was ashen and he stopped acting,” McKellen recalls. “He later said he saw a man standing next to me in a brown jacket. They decided it was a deceased manager. Apparently, Stewart sees ghosts a lot and before he does he always smells of bacon. (Maybe it’s ham, suggests Dench.)

Judi Dench’s parents could not have been more proud …
When Dench starred in Romeo and Juliet in 1960, his parents came to watch. It was a historic production run by the famous Franco Zeffirelli at the Old Vic. In Act Three, Scene Two, Dench’s desperate Juliette asks the nurse, “Where are my mom and dad?” At this point, the proud Reginald Dench shouted, “Here we are, honey, in row H!”

Ghostly Presence… Patrick Stewart as Vladimir and Ian McKellen as Tarragon in Waiting for Godot at the Theater Royal Haymarket, London, in 2009. Photographie: Tristram Kenton / The Guardian

Maggie Smith was once a bailiff…
Back then, plastic cups weren’t the nuisance. “They had pots of tea,” she recalls, “and you had to balance those trays – teapots and cups and saucers, and some very sad cookies. A lady once said to me: “I would like a lightly boiled egg.” In the years that followed, Smith might have delivered a trademark, but she duly relayed the request. “They more or less told me to go tell him to binge.

Derek Jacobi had “glorious, glorious” hair …
McKellen says he felt an “instant love” for Jacobi when they met in college. He was an elegant dresser, with tight pants and “glorious glorious hair.” Combed down the back into a duck’s ass, with a spectacular quiff, it was a Tony Curtis cut and cost Jacobi all his spare cash to keep it going with trips to his Italian barber. Jacobi dreaded going to bed for fear of ruining everything.

Ian McKellen a entaillé un beermat du Rovers Return…
This was during his 10 episode stint on Coronation Street in 2005. The carpet was nailed to the set, so it took a little elbow grease. After a guilty night’s sleep, he came back the next day and nailed him down. (Maggie Smith longed to grab a goblet in the Harry Potter films but didn’t want to smuggle it past security.)

“Here we are, honey, in row H!” … Judi Dench with John Stride in Romeo and Juliet at the Old Vic in 1960. Photograph: Features of the Daily Mail / Rex

Judi Dench hates people whistling backstage …
It is a theatrical superstition, with “the Scottish play”. Macbeth inspired her to become an actor. When she saw her older brother play Duncan in a production of the tragedy, she was struck when he said, “Who the fuck is that man? Dench knew “this is for me,” she said. “Shakespeare and swear!”

Derek Jacobi got a copy of Hamlet from Peter O’Toole…
In 1963, Jacobi was Prince O’Toole’s Laertes. One day, O’Toole presented him with a book by Hamlet that once belonged to the famous Victorian actor Johnston Forbes-Robertson. Jacobi then passed it on to Branagh who, in 2017, gave it to Tom Hiddleston when he conducted it as Hamlet at Rada.

Ian McKellen wants to play on stage with Meryl Streep…
In 1985, they were in a film in David Hare’s play Plenty. “I said, ‘Could we do a play together? McKellen recalls. Streep told him that she “had a little film career right now”. Maybe once McKellen finishes Hamlet, they can make it happen?

Judi Dench once gave Branagh thoughtful advice on the art of acting …
According to Branagh, the lady shared a note about her performance: “Stop waving your arms like a bubbling windmill! “

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