Judi Dench

Judi Dench

Her role as Queen Victoria in '(Her Majesty) Mrs. Brown' (1997)

Background:

One of the most talented and well-liked British stage, television and film
actresses, Judi Dench, known for frequently portraying distinguished,
iron-willed women in positions of authority, has spent much of her career
focusing on stage and TV in her native home of England rather than pursuing wide
screen roles. The much-heralded performer first gained international recognition
and appreciation as a film star with her Best Actress Oscar nominating
performance as Queen Victoria in John Madden’s Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown (1997),
where she also nabbed a BAFTA Award, a Chicago Film Critics Award, a Golden
Globe Award and a Golden Satellite Award. She received even more kudos in the
following year for her spectacular, scene-stealing portrayal of Queen Elizabeth
I in Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which she was garnered an Academy
Award, a National Society of Film Critics Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and
a BAFTA Award. Petite, blonde and husky-voiced, Dench, whose screen breakthrough
came with the little seen Four in the Morning (1965, won a BAFTA) continued to
make an impression with her memorable performances as Armande Voizin in Chocolat
(2000, earning an Oscar nomination) and the lively and sharp British novelist
Iris Murdoch in the biopic Iris (2001). Her bravura acting in the latter film
handed the actress a British Academy Award and a London Critics Circle Film
Award. Additionally, Dench is also known to audiences for her role as M,
alongside Pierce Brosnan, in the James Bond movie series GoldenEye (1995),
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day
(2002). Now in her early 70s, Dench proves she remains powerful. After narrating
the animated Doogal (2006), the five-time BAFTA winner is set to costar with
Cate Blanchett and Tameka Empson in Notes on a Scandal (2006), reprise her M
role for the new James Bond, Daniel Craig, in Casino Royale (2006) and play a
role in The Corrections (2007).

On the small screen, one of Great Britain’s greatest living players, Dench is
well-known to British sitcom fans for her starring turns in “A Fine Romance”
(1981-84), opposite her late husband Michael Williams, and “As Time Goes By”
(1992-98, 2002, 2005) with Geoffrey Palmer. Initially gathering attention as
disturbed Terry Stevens in the miniseries Talking to a Stranger (1966, took home
a BAFTA Award), Dench later received acclaim for her starring role as vigorous
widow Elizabeth in HBO’s original The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000).
Delivering a stunning acting performance, she netted a Golden Globe and a
British Academy Award Award, as well as received an Emmy nomination.

A foremost star of the British stage since the 1950s, Dench has also built a
fruitful stage career with a number of impressive performances while working
with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and at the Old Vic
Theatre. Among her notable roles are Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” (1968), Lady
Macbeth in “Macbeth” (1977-78), Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being
Earnest” (1982), Ranyevskaya in “The Cherry Orchard” (1989-90) and Gertrude in
“Hamlet” (1989). In 1996, she became headlines by taking home two Oliver Awards
for her acting in “Absolute Hell” and in “A Little Night Music.” Three years
later, she won a Tony Award for her role as an aging actress in the Broadway
“Amy’s View” (1999).

Off screen, Judi Dench topped the poll in Britain’s Finest Actresses (July
2005). She is the new President of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts (UK), in
succession to the late Sir John Mills. In 1970, she was awarded the Order of the
British Empire and received the title Dame of the British Empire by 1988. She
was made a Companion of Honor in 2005. As for her private life, Dench was
married to British actor Michael Williams until he passed away in January 2001.
With Williams, she has a daughter named Finty Williams.

“We were just happy to be in the same room together. My only regret is that I
didn’t have more children.” Judi Dench on her husband


Spirited Girl

Childhood and Family:

Born on December 9, 1934, in York, England, UK, Judith Olivia Dench, who would
later be famous as Judi Dench, is the daughter of Reginald Arthur Dench (doctor)
and Eleanora Dench, who were both passionate amateur actors. She has two
brothers, Peter and Jeffery, who also acted in regional plays. Jud was brought
to see her first play at age 4 and was soon taken home because her parents were
afraid of her becoming sick after laughing so hard. A year after the incident,
she made her first stage appearance as a snail in a play at her Quaker junior
school.

An active young girl, Judi liked drawing on her bedroom walls, dressing the
family cats in doll clothes and creating chaos by playing in the yard of her
father’s associate until she was forced to stop. At age 13, she attended a
private school in York called The Mount School, where she became involved in a
number of school productions like “Richard II” and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer
Night’s Dream.” Judi, however, didn’t want to pursue a career in acting and
planned to be a designer instead. After leaving The Mount, she briefly studied
theatre design, but quit after only a few months. Influenced by a production of
“King Lear,” she applied for a place in London’s Central School of Speech and
Drama and was accepted. Recognizing her talent after receiving bright reviews
from her coach for performing an impressive mime, Judi decided to give acting a
more serious try.

On February 5, 1971, Judi married Michael Williams (born on July 9, 1935), a
Roman Catholic British actor, and their only daughter, Tara Cressida Williams (aka.
Finty Williams) was born a year later on September 24, 1972. She remained with
her husband until his death on January 11, 2001.


007’s M

Career:

A graduate student from The Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Judi
Dench had acting since she was a young girl but didn’t consider acting as a
career choice until she attended The Central School. Upon graduation, the
recipient of the Gold Medal and the prize for outstanding student of the year,
Dench began her professional career by joining the Old Vic Company and made a
favorable London stage debut as Ophelia in “Hamlet” (1957). A year later, she
acted in her first Broadway play with the Old Vic Company in “Henry V.” Dench
left the company in 1961 and went on to hone in on her skills with roles in
numerous plays, including one as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” (1968), before
finally becoming a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company in 1969.
She spent much of the next two decades gathering a remarkable body of work and
receiving countless compliments.

Although the stage has always been her first love, Dench started her TV work
early in her career. Two years after making her professional stage debut, she
landed her first role as Hilda Lessways in the made-for-TV film of the same
name, followed by a performance in the miniseries “An Age of Kings” (1960) and
guest roles in such series as “The Four Just Men” (1960), ” Z Cars” (1963) and
“Detective” (1964). She also added film acting to her endeavors in 1964 by
making her debut as Miss Humphries in The Third Secret. Her first screen
breakthrough arrived in 1965 when she was handed a BAFTA for Most Promising
Newcomer for her fine portrayal of a young wife in Anthony Simmons’ little seen
drama Four in the Morning (1965). She earned additional attention in the
following years with the starring role of a bothered daughter named Terry
Stevens in the TV miniseries Talking to a Stranger, where she won a second BAFTA,
this time for Best Television Actress and as Titania in the Peter Hall
adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968).

During the 70s-80s, Dench continued working on TV, film and the stage. Following
roles in the silver-screen films Luther (1973) and Dead Cert (1974), she took
parts in a number of TV movies such as The Comedy of Errors (1978), Macbeth
(1979), On Giant’s Shoulders (1979), Stephen Frears’ Saigon: Year of the Cat
(1983), and was remarkable playing Madame Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard
(1980) and Sister Scarli in Going Gently (1981). Her performances in the last
two again garnered Dench a BAFTA for Best Television Actress. I981-84 also saw
her as series’ regular Laura Dalton, opposite her husband Michael, in the sitcom
“A Fine Romance,” a role that made her widely known to TV audiences. On stage,
the respected actress also scored success with her notable performances as Lady
Macbeth in “Macbeth” (1977-78) with Ian McKellen, Lady Bracknell in Oscar
Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1982), Cleopatra in “Antony and
Cleopatra” (1987-88), and Ranyevskaya in “The Cherry Orchard” (1989-90). In
addition to her work with the RSC, Dench also joined the National Theatre and
played Gertrude to Daniel Day-Lewis’ “Hamlet” (1989). The same year, she made
her stage directorial debut for Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theater Company in
“Look Back in Anger (1989), which starred Branagh, Emma Thompson and Dench
herself.

Starting in the mid-80s, Dench’s screen appearances increased. She was paired
with Ian Holm as a married couple in David Hare’s confrontational Wetherby
(1985), was featured as Miss Eleanor Lavish in the Merchant-Ivory production A
Room With a View (1985), played Anthony Hopkins’ envious wife Nora Doel in 84
Charing Cross Road (1987), costarred with James Wilby, Kristin Scott Thomas,
Rupert Graves and Anjelica Huston in A Handful of Dust (1988) and appeared as
the hearty Mistress Quickly in Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Henry V (1989).
She was also busy with TV projects, costarring with Ian Holm in the British
adaptation of Noel Coward’s Mr. and Mrs Edgehill (1985), playing Millie Crocker
in The Browning Version (1985), as Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (1986) and starring as
Bridget Mayor in the miniseries “Behaving Badly” (1989).

The early 1990s saw roles in the television movies Can You Hear Me Thinking
(1990) and Absolute Hell (1991), as well as the miniseries “The Torch” (1992)
and “Middlemarch” (1994). Also in 1992, she began her long-running role as Jean
Pargetter/Hardcastle, opposite veteran actor Geoffrey Palmer, in the English
sitcom “As Time Goes By” (1992-98, 2002 and 2005). The Bob Larbey-written series
opened to strong reviews and continued successfully until its final season in
2005. After five years away from filmmaking, she made her return in 1995 with a
costarring role opposite Richard E. Grant and Samantha Mathis in writer/director
Tim Sullivan’s romantic-comedy Jack and Sarah (1995). The same year, she was put
into the Hollywood mainstream when she was cast as M, the superior of James Bond
(Pierce Brosnan) in GoldenEye (1995), a role she later reprised for the sequels
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day
(2002).

In 1996, Dench had a cameo role as Hecuba in Branagh’s full-length film of
Hamlet, but it was her stage work that garnered the actress a lot of
appreciation. She created history in British theater by becoming the first
person to win two Oliver Best Actress Awards for different roles. The first was
her bright performance in “Absolute Hell” and the next was for her dazzling
musical turn as Desiree in “A Little Night Music.”

Continuing the victory, Dench became the center of attention in the following
year after director John Madden handed her the starring role of Queen Victoria
in Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown (1997). Her performance was widely praised and Dench
picked up several awards like a BAFTA, a Chicago Film Critics, a Golden Globe
and a Golden Satellite for Best Actress. Additionally, she was nominated for a
Best Actress Oscar. She was launched to superstardom the next year when she
successfully took home an Oscar for her eight minute turn as Queen Elizabeth I
in Shakespeare in Love (1998), again for director John Madden. The role also
handed the gifted actress a National Society of Film Critics, a Screen Actors
Guild and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress. She rounded out the decade with a
small role as a quirky artist in Franco Zeffirelli’s Tea with Mussolini,
alongside Cher, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin and Joan Plowright. While on the
stage, Dench made her Broadway comeback that same year by reprising her London
triumph in David Hare’s acclaimed “Amy’s View,” wherein she won a Tony for Best
Actress in a Play for her portrayal of an aging actress. She later left the role
and flew back to England to look after her sick husband who had been diagnosed
with cancer.

Returning to TV film after a nine-year hiatus, the new President of Mountview
Academy of Theatre Arts made an impact on both audiences and critics alike with
her starring turn as Elizabeth in the HBO original The Last of the Blonde
Bombshells (2000), a drama by director Gillies MacKinnon that also marked her
next collaboration with Ian Holm. Portraying a lively widow who looks back on
her life as a saxophonist in a WWII-era swing band, Dunch was so imposing that
she was garnered a Golden Globe and a British Academy Award for Best Actress in
a Leading Role, in addition to an Emmy nomination. She combined the victory with
the Academy Award nominating performances in Lasse Hallstrom’s Chocolat (2000)
and playing the supporting role of a crispy old woman named Armande Voizin in
the biopic Iris (2001), starring as the vibrant and intelligent British novelist
Iris Murdoch. For her efforts in the latter, she also picked up a British
Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and a London
Critics Circle Film for British Actress of the Year.

Next up, Dench was seen in films like The Shipping News (2001, as Kevin Spacey’s
aunt), the remake of Oscar Wilde’s classic play The Importance of Being Earnest
(2002, played the tough Lady Bracknell), Home on the Range (2004, provided the
voice of Mrs. Calloway), the David Twohy sci-fi/action installment sequel to his
cult hit Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004, opposite Vin Diesel),
Ladies in Lavender (2004), Stephen Frears’ Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and
director Joe Wright’s lively adaptation of the Jane Austen classic Pride &
Prejudice (2005), which starred Keira Knightly. 2001-2002, she was also on
stage, headlining a London stage production of “The Royal Family” (2001) and
starring with Maggie Smith in David Hare’s stage drama ”The Breath of Life”
(2002).

Recently narrating the Dave Borthwick-helmed animated motion picture Doogal
(2006), the actress will soon be seen with Cate Blanchett and Tameka Empson in
the drama film Notes on a Scandal (2006) and is scheduled to reprised her M role
for the newest James Bond movie Casino Royale (2006), a first film with Daniel
Craig as 007. In 2007, she can add the Robert Zemeckis-directed The Corrections
to her long impressive resume. As a stage actress, she made her return to the
West End stage to perform with Peter Bowles, Belinda Lang and Kim Medcalf in
“Hay Fever.”


Awards:

Evening Standard Theater: Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre,
2004
British Academy Award: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role,
Iris, 2002
London Critics Circle Film: British Actress of the Year, Iris, 2002
British Academy Award: Academy Fellowship, 2002
ShoWest: Supporting Actress of the Year, 2001
British Academy Award: BAFTA TV Award - Best Actress, The Last of the
Blonde Bombshells, 2001
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Leading Role--Mini-Series or Television
Movie The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, 2000
Tony: Actress in a Play, Amy’s View, 1999
U.K. Entertainment Personality of the Year, 1999
National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, Shakespeare
in Love, 1999
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical
Motion Picture, Shakespeare in Love; shared award, 1998
Oscar: Best Supporting Actress, Shakespeare in Love, 1998
BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress, Shakespeare in Love, 1998
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama), (Her Majesty)
Mrs. Brown, 1997
Golden Satellite: Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama), (Her
Majesty) Mrs. Brown, 1997
Chigago Film Critics: Best Actress, (Her Majesty) Mrs. Brown, 1997
BAFTA: Best Actress, (Her Majesty) Mrs. Brown, 1997
BAFTA: Best Television Actress, Going Gently and The Cherry Orchard,
1981
BAFTA: Best Television Actress, Talking to a Stranger, 1967
BAFTA: Most Promising Newcomer, Four in the Morning, 1965
I don't think anybody can be told how to act. I think you can give advice. But you have to find your own way through it.More Judi Dench quotes [09/19/2011 02:09:22]
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I was in Yorkshire. We were a family of five and I used to be sent sometimes to get the rations for the week and I was easily able to carry them back. It was like one egg and a tiny bit of tea.More Judi Dench quotes [09/19/2011 02:09:17]
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I've always loved painting, although I never show anyone what I've done. Mainly because I don't do it well. But it's like a form of visual diary for me. A way of fixing things in my mind.More Judi Dench quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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