In 2012, the India-set ensemble comedy "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" proved a sleeper hit, a kind of Avengers for iconic British acting vets. Now this supergroup featuring Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and the great Dame Judi Dench has assembled once again for "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," and Dench could not be happier.
"Aren't we lucky?" declares Dench. "It seems to carry on everybody's story. It follows lots of little threads, which I like very much. I loved it when I saw it, which is rather unusual because seeing yourself is always ghastly."
The sequel picks up in Jaipur with the same group of pensioners enjoying their retirement in the eponymous seniors-only residence. Muriel (Smith) is helping eager manager Sonny (Dev Patel) open a new hotel, while Evelyn (Dench) is still reticent about her relationship with Douglas (Nighy)
"They can't quite get it together," Dench says of their budding romance. "If you're set in your ways and that much older, I think it's that much more difficult to know exactly what you want and to fall in with somebody else's plans."
Evelyn's plans are discombobulated further when she's offered a new job working with textiles in Mumbai, something that doesn't come along often for people of certain age.
"It's wonderful to be invited to do something," said Dench. "With Evelyn, it's as much a surprise to her, which she took with both hands. I think you're lucky to get a job. I think I'm lucky to get a job!"
Despite being one of the world's most respected actresses, the 80-year-old Oscar-winner for "Shakespeare in Love" understands retirement struggles all too well, having ceded the role of M in the 007 franchise to Ralph Fiennes. As new Bond installment "Spectre" films across Rome she feigned jealousy over Fiennes getting the part.
"I won't hear his name mentioned," Dench laughs sarcastically. "No, I hope Ralph's having as wonderful a time as I had. It couldn't have been more marvelous! I did Bond for 17-years and seven films, not bad is it? But I think MI6 would've given me the push by now. It'll come to him!"