A bum knee is going to keep Judi Dench on her bum come Oscar time.
The Best Actress nominee for Notes on a Scandal says that she will miss the 79th Annual Academy Awards on Feb. 25 because she's due to have surgery on her injured knee.
"The thing about the Oscars, it's strange because in the theater you would say, 'Break a leg,'" Dench, 72, told reporters Monday at the Berlin Film Festival. "I can't because I'm to have a knee operation. I can't go to the awards. I'm going to have my leg broken and put back together.
"I will watch and cheer from my bed."
Dench has advised the Oscar poolers out there to put their pounds on Helen Mirren, who has literally been The Queen bee of awards season so far, scooping up honors right and left, including a Best Actress BAFTA this weekend.
"Don't put any money on me because you'll lose," said Dench, already an Oscar winner herself. Dench picked up a Best Supporting Actress statuette in 1999 for her eight minutes on screen in Shakespeare in Love. Like Mirren this year, Dench was playing Britain's top monarch, although in her case the setting was 16th-century England and she was embodying Queen Elizabeth I. Mirren is nominated for playing Queen Elizabeth II.
"I'm in frighteningly good company," Dench said good-naturedly last month after learning she was an Oscar nominee. "It is very nice of 'the queen' to allow me in for a minute."
The veteran actor described her character in Notes on a Scandal as a woman she wouldn't want to have around.
"She behaves appallingly," Dench said, referring to Barbara Covett, Notes' old schoolmarm who becomes obsessed with a younger colleague (Cate Blanchett). When Barbara discovers that her new friend is having an affair with a 15-year-old student, blackmail and various mind games ensue.
Blanchett is up for Best Supporting Actress, an honor she won two years ago for playing Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. (And, because there are only so many great parts out there, she too has been nominated in the past for playing Queen Elizabeth I.)
Although Dench's fellow Best Actress nominees Kate Winslet, Penélope Cruz and Meryl Streep aren't being fitted for gowns right this moment for nothing, Mirren seems a lock for the statuette after reigning over virtually every accolade to this point.
Mirren's stocked her trophy case with hardware from, among others, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics, the Satellite Awards and both the New York and Los Angeles film critics' associations.
Not too shabby for someone who lost out for Choice Sleazebag at the 2000 Teen Choice Awards for her title role in Teaching Mrs. Tingle.