Dame Judi Dench has already been ennobled by the Queen. But there is one title bestowed upon her that she flatly rejects – that of "national treasure" status.
"Everyone says it, everyone. It's horrible, it's awful. I hate it," she declared. The 82-year-old star of stage and screen – who has played Queen Victoria, M in the Bond films, Elizabeth I and Lady Cleopatra – then clarified her answer. "I'd like much more to be the 'Notes on a Scandal' woman than the 'Marigold Hotel' woman, do you know what I mean?"
Dame Judi, who is to play Queen Victoria for a second time on the silver screen, believes she was more challenged playing the tortured Barbara Covett in 2007's Notes on a Scandal. In it, she played a schoolteacher who was attracted to Cate Blanchett's Sheba Hart. The movie was based on an award-winning book of the same name by Zoe Heller.
"I loved it, I loved every second. That's the part I'm always looking for," Dame Judi said. The next film role we are due to see her in is in Victoria and Abdul, which charts a close relationship the monarch had with an Indian servant during the 1880s, long after her beloved husband, Albert, had passed on.
"I thought it just gave another huge insight into her life. The whole episode with John Brown [Dame Judi played Queen Victoria opposite Billy Connolly's Brown in the film which won her an Oscar nomination] was strange, but I thought it was totally understandable, which I believe that this relationship was, too. [It was] somebody she found, and she could just talk to him, and he talk to her, and she could ask questions and learn something."
Asked if she thought Victoria's relationship with Abdul echoed that of John Brown decades earlier, Dame Judi replied: "I think the need is the echo. She liked a chap around."
Dame Judi believes Victoria wanted to be able to speak to a man "with whom she could actually relax, all formal protocol cancelled. A real, proper relationship, being able to speak her mind to somebody - I think that's what it was. Apart from the fact that he was an extremely beautiful young man. Who wouldn't?
"If Ali [Fazal, who plays Abdul] walked in now, you wouldn't recognise me. I'd be a spring chicken, all over the place, so beautiful."
Victoria and Abdul is due to be released in UK cinemas on 15 September.