Lifetime achievement: Judi Dench
What was your highlight of 2011?
Being directed by Clint Eastwood in J Edgar.
Which career moment do you look back on most fondly?
My first job, when I was cast in Hamlet as Ophelia and went to the Old Vic, where I stayed for four years.
Most valuable advice you’ve ever been given?
When I appeared in Cabaret, Hal Prince told me I did not have to find a new voice to sing – I should do it in the same voice I use to speak. And Peter Hall told me I did not have to play the whole character in every scene – one aspect is enough. By the end of the play you have the whole person.
What is your secret weapon?
My ability to laugh at myself.
Who is your woman of the year?
Eliza Manningham-Buller [former director of MI5]. I heard her giving one of the Reith lectures and thought she talked an inordinate amount of sense.
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