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Judi Dench

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Also Known As: Judith Olivia Dench, Dame Judi Dench Died:
Born: December 9, 1934 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: York, England, GB Profession: actor, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A distinguished talent widely recognized as one of Great Britain's greatest modern actresses, Dame Judi Dench spent much of her career concentrating on stage and television in her native England. From her early years with the Old Vic Theater Company in London, Dench proved a commanding stage performer in both classic drama and musical comedy, and at the same time, was known by non-theatergoers for starring roles on the British comedy series "As Time Goes By" (BBC, 1992-2005) and "A Fine Romance" (1981-84). It was not until Dench hit her fifties that she began finding film roles that enabled international audiences the opportunity to appreciate her commanding gifts. Dench was one of the most frequently nominated actresses in Academy Award history, earning a statue for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) and nominations for a wide range of screen performances in "Chocolat" (2000), "Iris" (2001) and "Notes on a Scandal" (2006). A national treasure, Dench was honored by the British government with the title of Dame Commander of the British Army, and her homeland recognized her outstanding contributions to British Theater with a Laurence Olivier Award - officially proving...

A distinguished talent widely recognized as one of Great Britain's greatest modern actresses, Dame Judi Dench spent much of her career concentrating on stage and television in her native England. From her early years with the Old Vic Theater Company in London, Dench proved a commanding stage performer in both classic drama and musical comedy, and at the same time, was known by non-theatergoers for starring roles on the British comedy series "As Time Goes By" (BBC, 1992-2005) and "A Fine Romance" (1981-84). It was not until Dench hit her fifties that she began finding film roles that enabled international audiences the opportunity to appreciate her commanding gifts. Dench was one of the most frequently nominated actresses in Academy Award history, earning a statue for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) and nominations for a wide range of screen performances in "Chocolat" (2000), "Iris" (2001) and "Notes on a Scandal" (2006). A national treasure, Dench was honored by the British government with the title of Dame Commander of the British Army, and her homeland recognized her outstanding contributions to British Theater with a Laurence Olivier Award - officially proving that Dame Judi Dench was what critics had claimed for years: the modern, female equivalent of Sir Laurence Olivier, both onscreen and under the bright glare of the footlights.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Look Back in Anger (1993) Stage Director (Renaissance Theatre Company)

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Tulip Fever (2015)
3.
 Philomena (2013)
4.
 Skyfall (2012)
5.
 Stars In Shorts (2012)
7.
 Jane Eyre (2011)
8.
 Nine (2009)
9.
 Rage (2009)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1957:
Played the Virgin Mary in the revival of the York Mystery Plays; appeared with her father and older brother
1957:
London stage debut as Ophelia in "Hamlet" at the Old Vic
1957:
Became a member of the Old Vic Company in London
1958:
Made New York debut as Katherine in "Henry V"
1960:
Portrayed the female lead in Old Vic Company's production of "Romeo and Juliet"
1961:
Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company playing Anya in "The Cherry Orchard"; first collaboration with Ian Holm
1964:
Made feature film debut in "The Third Secret"
1965:
Breakthrough screen role in "Four in the Morning"
1967:
Made TV debut in the BBC's four-part serial "Talking to a Stranger"
1968:
Won critical praise as Sally Bowles in the London stage version of "Cabaret"
1969:
Played Titania in Peter Hall's film version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
1976:
Cast opposite Ian McKellen, who played the title role of Nunn's acclaimed production of "Macbeth"
1978:
Played one of three spinster sisters, opposite Jeremy Irons in the BBC television film "Langrishe, Go Down"; adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter
1981:
Appeared opposite her husband Michael Williams in the British comedy series "A Fine Romance"; also performed the series' theme song
1982:
Won critical praise for her stage role as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest"
1983:
Originated the role of Barbara in the West End production of "Pack of Lies"
1983:
Appeared in the British TV production "Saigon: Year of the Cat"; directed by Stephen Frears and written by David Hare
1985:
Co-starred with Vanessa Redgrave in "Wetherby"; written and directed by David Hare
1986:
Featured as Miss Eleanor Lavish in the Merchant-Ivory film "A Room With a View"
1987:
Co-starred with Ian Holm in the British adaptation of Noel Coward's "Mr. and Mrs Edgehill"
1987:
Portrayed Cleopatra in an acclaimed stage production of "Antony and Cleopatra" at The National Theatre
1989:
Stage directing debut "Look Back in Anger" for Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theater Company; also starred with Branagh and Emma Thompson (aired on Bravo in 1993)
1989:
Played Gertrude, opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role of "Hamlet" at the National Theatre
1989:
Directed by Branagh's for the stage production of "Henry V"
1992:
Co-starred with Geoffrey Palmer in the British sitcom "As Time Goes By"
1995:
Took over the role of M in "GoldenEye" opposite Pierce Brosnan in his first film as James Bond
1996:
Made cameo appearance as Hecuba in Kenneth Branagh's full-length film of "Hamlet"
1997:
First leading role in a feature, portraying Queen Victoria in "Mrs. Brown"; earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination
1997:
Reprised role of M in "Tomorrow Never Dies"; second collaboration with Brosnan as Bond
1997:
Starred in David Hare's London play "Amy's View"; production moved to Broadway in 1999
1998:
Earned critical acclaim and several awards for her brief role as Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love"
1999:
Appeared with an ensemble cast in Franco Zeffirelli's "Tea With Mussolini"
1999:
Again reprised role of M for "The World Is Not Enough"; third collaboration with Pierce Brosnan as Bond
2000:
Starred in the HBO original film "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells"; received SAG and Emmy nomination for Lead Actress
2000:
Featured as a crusty old woman in Lasse Hallstrom's "Chocolat"; received Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
2001:
Re-teamed with director Lasse Hallstrom for "The Shipping News" playing Kevin Spacey's aunt
2001:
Portrayed Irish novelist Iris Murdoch in her later life (the younger version played by Kate Winslet) in Richard Eyre's "Iris"; earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination
2002:
Played Lady Bracknell in Oliver Parker's remake of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest"
2002:
Co-starred with Maggie Smith in David Hare's West End play "The Breath Of Life"
2002:
Reprised role of M for "Die Another Day"; final collaboration with Pierce Brosnan as Bond
2005:
Portrayed Laura Henderson in the Stephen Frears directed "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; received Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Lead Actress
2005:
Cast as Lady Catherine de Bourg in Joe Wright's adaptation of the Jane Austen classic "Pride and Prejudice"
2006:
Reprised her role as M for "Casino Royale" opposite Daniel Craig in his first film as James Bond
2006:
Played a London schoolteacher opposite Cate Blanchett in Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal"; received Golden Globe, SAG and Oscar nominations for Lead Actress
2008:
Co-starred in the BBC One five-part series "Cranford" (aired on PBS in the US); earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Miniseries
2008:
Reprised her role as M for the 22nd Bond adventure "Quantum Of Solace"; second collaboration with Craig as Bond
2009:
Played Daniel Day-Lewis' confidant and costume designer in Rob Marshall's musical adaptation of the Broadway play, "Nine"
2010:
Earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for "Return to Cranford"
2010:
Nominated for the 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie ("Return to Cranford")
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television ("Return to Cranford")
2011:
Made a cameo in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
2011:
Cast as the title character's mother in the biographical drama "J. Edgar," directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio
2011:
Played Dame Sybil Thorndike in "My Week with Marilyn"
2012:
Co-starred in the ensemble comedy drama "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
2012:
Reprised character of M opposite Daniel Craig's James Bond in "Skyfall"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of London: -
The Mount School: -

Notes

Dench was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from Warwick University in 1978 and from York University in 1983

She was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1980 and made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988.

Dench was the original choice to play Grizabella in "Cats" but an injury forced her to withdraw and be replaced by Elaine Paige.

In 1996, Dench became the first performer to win two Olivier Awards in a single year.

"Once you've done a film performance, it's like a butterfly -- somebody's taken you and pinned you to that thing, and although it can look very pretty and you can appreciate it, it doesn't change. And I think change is kind of the essence of what we do, of how you get near to something, near what the author wants you to say." --Judi Dench in Buzzweekly, July 25-31, 1997.

"I don't like filming very much, I've turned down a lot more film work than I've actually done. I don't enjoy the process. What I like about theater is rehearsing, getting an audience in and trying to get it right. With filming, you get one chance and then it's like some dead thing, crystallized forever." --Dench to Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1997.

On her casting in "Mrs. Brown", Dench jokingly told the Los Angeles Times (July 27, 1997): "I have to tell you, I wasn't [co-star] Billy [Connolly]'s first choice. He wanted Bob Hoskins. Bill saw him playing Victoria in some production at the Edinburgh Festival and said he was definitive. So I'll settle for that--being Bob Hoskins' understudy."

"Playing M [in the Bond films] is the closest to glamour I've ever got." --Dench to New York Post, July 14, 1997.

"When you talk about Judi, you unpack a suitcase full of superlatives. She's sort of diffident. There's not a trace of self-advertisement about her. She's genuinely modest. But in my view she is our greatest actress." --director Richard Eyre to The New York Times, July 13, 1997.

"It's too ephemeral to say that theatre's a spiritual thing, but that's what it can be. It has something to do with the spirit of the people ... with communication. And the audience plays a totally vital part in it. They make it different every night, not us. If that wasn't the case I'd just stay home." --Judi Dench to the London Sunday Times, June 8, 1997.

"What attracts me is that a script should be totally different, so you can get your teeth into it. No more queens for a bit." --Judi Dench on accepting her role in the HBO drama "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells", quoted in USA Today, August 21, 2000.

"Judi doesn't perform. She just is. There's not an atom of ostentation about her ... She's not just one of the most generous actresses, but actually just about the most generous, good-hearted person I know." --director Richard Eyre, quoted in the London Times, October 28, 2001.

On her career, Dench reflected to Matt Wolf in the London Times (October 28, 2001): "It's about things coming your way if you're lucky enough, or not, if you're unlucky, and then a question of being in people's minds and the choices you make. Going to the Old Vic was just wonderful, the best schooling you could possible have ... and then Stratford after that: that was just luck, that just happened. ... All I've ever wanted to do, if it's at all possible, is choose the most unlikely next job like playing Cleopatra [for the National Theatre in 1987] where people were openly aghast. In actual fact, if somebody says, 'Oh, well, you're perfect for that part,' I think: 'Beware, beware.'"

"Judi's brilliant at rounding out a character [and] bringing out the humanity."-Director Oliver Parker

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Michael Williams. Actor. Born on July 9, 1935; married on February 5, 1971; Roman Catholic; hospitalized in spring 1999 with what was then called "pleurisy"; disclosed he was suffering with cancer in August 1999; died on January 11, 2001 at age 65.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Reginald Arthur Dench. Doctor.
mother:
Eleanora Dench.
brother:
Jeffrey Dench. Actor. Older.
daughter:
Finty Williams. Actor. Born in 1972; film acting debut in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" (1993); appeared as one of Victoria's daughters in "(Her Majesty) Mrs. Brown".
grandson:
Sam Williams. Born in 1997.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Judi Dench: A Great Deal of Laughter"
"Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice" Welcome Rain

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