Dame Judi Dench said the world has changed enormously in its treatment of women since she began in acting, when she was “very lucky” to avoid harassment.
The veteran performer on screen and stage has said that being “goosed” behind the scenes was an everyday occurrence for thespians in past decades.
Dench, 83, began at the Old Vic Theatre in the 1950s, and revealed that she was “lucky” to avoid the potentially predatory advances highlighted in recent years by the Me Too movement and stars speaking out after the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
She said: “There’s an awareness now that I don’t think there’s been before.
“I must be very lucky because I’d never come across that. There was a time at the Old Vic when if you weren’t goosed as you went in you thought there was something wrong with you.
“It was an entirely different attitude, you’d just say to somebody ‘get off’.”
The actress became a star of the Shakespearean stage at the theatre which would be led decades later by Kevin Spacey, who was the focus of harassment allegations.
Dench has welcomed the steps forward taken by the worlds of theatre and cinema.
She said: “I think the awareness now is good. And I think there are more parts for women.”
Dench attended the British Independent Film Awards in London to collect the Richard Harris Award for her outstanding contributions as a British film actor.
She said the honour was “lovely” and that she was “thrilled” to receive the award.
The veteran actress has said she has no plans to step away from the limelight.
Asked about retirement, she said: “We don’t say that word in my house. People usually retire to do something they really like to do. Well I’m already doing something I really like.”