Dame Judi Dench


Her most glorious period in the theatre though began in the mid-nineties. For her work onstage, in 1996, she became the first person to win two Olivier awards for different roles. She took Broadway by storm, and won a Tony in 1999 as ageing actress Esme in 'Amy's View' which, with advance ticket sales of over $3 million, even surpassed the takings of 'The Blue Room', a play featuring a controversially nude Nicole Kidman. She then proceeded to win a Golden Globe for TV's The Last Of The Blonde Bombshells, in which she played sax as a member of an all-girl band (Ian Holm, also appeared, in drag).

At the same time, her film career took off. Taking the role of James Bond's no-nonsense boss M (her sheer authority making her the franchise's first and only strong female character), she scored $100 million hits with 'Goldeneye', 'Tomorrow Never Dies' and 'The World Is Not Enough'. Then came the major nominations. She won a Golden Globe and was Oscar-nominated for her role as the grieving Queen Victoria in 'Mrs Brown', then won the coveted Oscar for her 8-minute performance as Elizabeth I in 'Shakespeare In Love' - that same year she writing the foreword to the guide-book Shakespeare For Dummies.

There would be another Oscar nomination for her role as the tetchy oldster seeking reconciliation in Chocolat, and yet another nomination for her performance as the older, Alzheimer's-suffering version of the controversial, bisexual novelist Iris Murdoch, alongside Jim Broadbent in Iris. Kate Winslet would play the younger Murdoch - the pair would appear together again in the Winslet-produced Therese Raquin. After this there would be 'The Shipping News', where Dench played the aunt of troubled Kevin Spacey, who discovers love, trust and his own history when he moves home to Newfoundland. And, of course, there was the role she was born to play - Lady Bracknell, bossing about Rupert Everett and Colin Firth in The Importance Of Being Earnest. Only Dench could match the severity and crushing observations of Edith Evans in the original version.

As one of Britain's most respected and popular actresses, Judi Dench can claim a decades-old career encompassing the stage, screen, and television. A five-time winner of the British Academy Award. However, if possible, in the last few years her work rate has even increased. She was in Die another day, again reprising her role of M and is even lending her voice to the associated computer games. Then in 2006 she appeared, this time as Daniel Craigs boss, in Casio Royale. Somehow she managed to fit in the critically acclaimed drama 'Notes on a Scandal' (2006) for which she nominated for another British and US Academy award. She is rumoured to be appearing again as M (this time in Bond 22 - working title).

A staunch Royalist, Dench was awarded an OBE in 1970, and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1988. The Queen's respect for her was further evinced by a letter of consolation she sent when Dench's Hampstead home burned down. This respect, and her success, has been hard won. When she was just starting out, an older player once recalled, her voice was so croaky she sounded like she had laryngitis. In the hard world of stage acting, he believed, she had no chance. But, as always, she worked on it, put in the hours, and made it right. She is a genuine great.

I am afraid it is a non-starter [refering to technology]. I cannot even use a bicycle pump let alone a computer.


Suggested films to see:

Shakespeare in Love (1998)
A Room with a View (1985)
Iris (2001)
Casino Royale (2006)



Main Actors                        Page 1

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