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Dame Judith Olivia "Judi" Dench, CH, DBE, FRSAmarker (born 9 December 1934), is an English film, stage and television actress.

She made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Companymarker. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She branched into film work, and won a BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer, however most of her work during this period was in theatre. Not generally known as a singer, she drew strong reviews for her leading role in the musical Cabaret in 1968.

During the next two decades, she established herself as one of the most significant British theatre performers, working for the National Theatre Companymarker and the Royal Shakespeare Company. In television, she achieved success during this period, in the series A Fine Romance from 1981 until 1984 and in 1992 began a continuing role in the television romantic comedy series As Time Goes By.

Her film appearances had been infrequent until she was cast as M in GoldenEye (1995), a role she has played in each James Bond film since. She received several notable film awards for her role as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown (1997), and has since been acclaimed for her work in such films as Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Notes on a Scandal (2006), and the television production The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2001).

Regarded by critics as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, and frequently named as the leading British actress in polls, Dench has received many award nominations for her acting in theatre, film and television; her awards include ten BAFTAs, seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award.

She was married to the actor Michael Williams from 1971 until his death in 2001. They are the parents of the actress Finty Williams.

Personal life

Dench was born in Heworth, Yorkmarker, North Riding of Yorkshire, the daughter of Eleanora Olave Jones, a native of Dublin, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor who met Judi's mother while studying medicine at Trinity Collegemarker. Dench was raised a Methodist until, at age 13, she attended The Mount Schoolmarker, a Quaker Public Secondary school in York, becoming a Quaker; she then lived in Tyldesleymarker, Greater Manchestermarker. Notable relatives include her older brother, actor Jeffery Dench, and her niece, Emma Dench, a Roman historian and professor previously at Birkbeck, University of Londonmarker, and currently at Harvard Universitymarker, Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker.

In 1971, Dench married British actor Michael Williams and they had their only child, Tara Cressida Williams, known professionally as Finty Williams, on 24 September 1972.

Dench and her husband starred together in several stage productions, and the Bob Larbey British television sitcom, A Fine Romance (1981–84). Michael Williams died from lung cancer in 2001, aged 65.

Career

In Britain, Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, which has been her forte throughout her career. She has more than once been named number one in polls for Britain's best actress. Research to find "the perfect voice" has indicated that Dench's voice is one of the best.

Early years

Dench trained as a set designer, and was involved on a non-professional basis in the first three productions of the modern revival of the York Mystery Plays in the 1950s. Most famously, she played the role of the Virgin Mary in the 1957 production, performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardensmarker.

In September 1957, she made her first professional stage appearance with the Old Vic Companymarker, at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpoolmarker, as Ophelia in Hamlet, then her Londonmarker debut in the same production at the Old Vic. She remained a member of the company for four seasons, 1957–1961, her roles including Katherine in Henry V in 1958 (which was also her New Yorkmarker debut) and as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in October 1960, directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli. During this period, she toured the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, and appeared in Yugoslavia and at the Edinburgh Festival.

She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in December 1961 playing Anya in The Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatremarker in London, and made her Stratford-upon-Avonmarker debut in April 1962 as Isabella in Measure for Measure. She subsequently spent seasons in repertory both with the Nottingham Playhousemarker from January 1963 (including a West African tour as Lady Macbeth for the British Council), and with the Oxford Playhousemarker Company from April 1964. That same year she made her film debut in The Third Secret.

Prominence

In 1968, she was offered the role of Sally Bowles in the musical Cabaret. As Sheridan Morley later reported: "At first she thought they were joking. She had never done a musical and she has an unusual croaky voice which sounds as if she has a permanent cold. So frightened was she of singing in public that she auditioned from the wings, leaving the pianists alone on stage". But when it opened at the Palace Theatre in February 1968, Frank Marcus, reviewing for Plays and Players, commented that: "She sings well. The title song in particular is projected with great feeling."

After a long run in Cabaret, she rejoined the RSC making numerous appearances with the company in Stratfordmarker and London for nearly twenty years, winning several best actress awards. Among her roles with the RSC, she was the Duchess in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi in 1971. In the Stratford 1976 season, and then at the Aldwych in 1977, she gave two comedy performances, first in Trevor Nunn's musical staging of The Comedy of Errors as Adriana, then partnered with Donald Sinden as Beatrice and Benedick in John Barton's "British Raj" revival of Much Ado About Nothing. As Bernard Levin wrote in The Sunday Times: "...demonstrating once more that she is a comic actress of consummate skill, perhaps the very best we have."

But one of her most notable achievements with the RSC was her performance as Lady Macbeth in 1976. Nunn's acclaimed production of Macbeth was first staged with a minimalist design at The Other Placemarker theatre in Stratford. Its small round stage focused attention on the psychological dynamics of the characters, and both Ian McKellen in the title role, and Dench, received exceptionally favourable notices. "If this is not great acting I don't know what is", wrote Michael Billington in The Guardian. "It will astonish me if the performance is matched by any in this actress's generation", commented J C Trewin in The Lady. The production transferred to London, opening at the Donmar Warehouse in September 1977, and was adapted for television, later released on VHS and DVD. Dench won the SWET Best Actress Award in 1977.

She had a romantic role in the BBC television film Langrishe, Go Down (1978), with Jeremy Irons and a screenplay by Harold Pinter from the Aidan Higgins novel, directed by David Jones, in which she played one of three spinster sisters living in a fading Irish mansion in the Waterford countryside.

Dench made her debut as a director in 1988 with the Renaissance Theatre Company's touring season, Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, co-produced with the Birmingham Repmarker, and ending with a three month repertory programme at the Phoenix Theatremarker in London. Dench's contribution was a staging of Much Ado About Nothing, set in the Napoleonic era, which starred Kenneth Branagh and Samantha Bond as Benedick and Beatrice. In the same season, Geraldine McEwan and Derek Jacobi also made their directorial debuts.

She has made numerous appearances in the West Endmarker including the role of Miss Trant in the 1974 musical version of The Good Companions at Her Majesty's Theatremarker. In 1981, Dench was due to play the title role of Grizabella in the original production of Cats, but was forced to pull out due to a torn Achilles tendon, leaving Elaine Paige to play the role. She has acted with the National Theatremarker in London where, in September 1995, she played Desiree Armfeldt in a major revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, for which she won an Olivier Award.

Popular success

In 1995, she took over the role of M (James Bond's boss) with the James Bond film series, starting with GoldenEye. She is the only actor from Pierce Brosnan's Bond films to remain in the franchise. She has appeared in Casino Royale (2006) and its direct sequel Quantum of Solace (2008).

She has won multiple awards for performances on the London stage, including a record six Laurence Olivier Awards. She also won the Tony Award for her 1999 Broadway performance in the role of Esme Allen in David Hare's Amy's View. Alongside her numerous award winning performances, she has also managed to take on the role of Director for a number of stage productions. Dench won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love.

Judi Dench has frequently appeared with her close friend Geoffrey Palmer. They co-starred in the series As Time Goes By, where she played Jean Pargetter, becoming Jean Hardcastle after she married Lionel Hardcastle. The program spanned nine seasons. They also worked together on the films Mrs. Brown and Tomorrow Never Dies, both filmed in 1997. Dench has also lent her voice to many animated characters, narrations, and various other voice work. She plays the role of "Miss Lilly" in the children's animated series Angelina Ballerina (alongside her daughter, Finty Williams, as the voice of Angelina) and as Mrs. Calloway in the Disney animated film Home on the Range. She has narrated various classical music recordings (notably Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Britten's Canticles-The Heart of the Matter), and has appeared in numerous BBC radio broadcasts as well as commercials. Her many television appearances include lead roles in the series A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By. In the U.S., As Time Goes By has been repeated on PBS and on BBC America.

Recent years

Dench returned to the West End stage in April 2006 in Hay Fever alongside Peter Bowles, Belinda Lang and Kim Medcalf. She finished off 2006 with the role of Mistress Quickly in the RSC's new musical The Merry Wives, a version of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Dench's more recent film career has garnered six Academy Award nominations in nine years for Mrs. Brown in 1997; her Oscar-winning turn as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love in 1998; for Chocolat in 2000; for the lead role of writer Iris Murdoch in Iris in 2001 (with Kate Winslet playing her as a younger woman); for Mrs Henderson Presents (a romanticised history of the Windmill Theatremarker) in 2005; and for 2006's Notes on a Scandal, a film for which she received critical acclaim, including Golden Globe, Academy Award, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

In 2007 the BBC issued The Judi Dench Collection, DVDs of eight television dramas: Talking to a Stranger quartet (1966), Keep an Eye on Amélie (1973), The Cherry Orchard (1981), Going Gently (1981), Ghosts (with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Gambon, 1987), Make and Break (with Robert Hardy, 1987), Can You Hear Me Thinking? (co-starring with her husband, Michael Williams, 1990) and Absolute Hell (1991).

Dench, as Miss Matty Jenkins, co-starred with Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton and Francesca Annis, in the BBC One five-part series Cranford. The series began transmission in the UK in November 2007, and on the BBC's U.S. producing partner station WGBHmarker (PBS Boston) in spring 2008.

Dench became the voice for the narration for the updated Walt Disney Worldmarker Epcotmarker attraction Spaceship Earthmarker in February 2008.

In February 2008, she was named as the first official patron of the York Youth Mysteries 2008, a project to allow young people to explore the York Mystery Plays through dance, film-making and circus. This culminated on 21 June with a day of city centre performances in Yorkmarker.

She worked on the 22nd Bond adventure Quantum Of Solace and reprised her role as M.

She is interested in horse racing and in partnership with her chauffeur Bryan Agar owns a four-year-old horse, "Smokey Oakey", who won the 2008 Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

She returns to the West End from 13 March-23 May 2009 in Yukio Mishima's Madame De Sade, directed by Michael Grandage as part of the Donmar season at Wyndham's Theatremarker. In February 2010, she will play Titania in Peter Hall's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose Theatre Kingston Upon Thames, with Titania being seen as a portrait of Elizabeth I of England in her later years.

Public life

Dench was awarded the OBE in 1970, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988, and a Companion of Honour in 2005.

Dench is a patron of The Leaveners, Friends School Saffron Waldenmarker and the Archway Theatre, Horleymarker, UK. She became president of Mountview Academy of Theatre Artsmarker in London in 2006, taking over from Sir John Mills, and is also president of the Questors Theatremarker. In May 2006, she became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Artsmarker. She is also patron of Ovingdean Hall School, a special day and boarding school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Brighton and Vice President of The Little Foundation.

Dench is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. In 2000-2001 she received an Honorary DLitt from Durham Universitymarker. On 24 June 2008, she was honoured by the University of St Andrewsmarker, receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) at the university's graduation ceremony.

Dench has worked with the non-governmental indigenous organization, Survival International, campaigning in the defense of the tribal people, the Bushmen of Botswana and the Arhuaco of Colombia. She made a small supporting video saying the Bushmen are victims of tyranny, greed and racism.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1964 The Third Secret Miss Humphries
1965 Four in the Morning Wife BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
A Study in Terror Sally
He Who Rides a Tiger Joanne
1968 A Midsummer Night's Dream Titania
1973 Luther Katherine
1974 Dead Cert Laura Davidson
1978 Langrishe, Go Down Imogen Langrishe (BBC TV film)
1985 The Angelic Conversation (narrator)
Wetherby Marcia Pilborough Nomination — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
A Room with a View Eleanor Lavish BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1987 84 Charing Cross Road Nora Doel Nomination — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1988 A Handful of Dust Mrs. Beaver BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1989 Henry V Mistress Quickly
Behaving Badly Bridget Mayor Channel 4 television serial
1995 Jack and Sarah Margaret
GoldenEye M
1996 Hamlet Hecuba
1997 Mrs. Brown Queen Victoria BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actress in a Film

Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress

London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year

Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress

Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Nomination — Academy Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Tomorrow Never Dies M
1998 Shakespeare in Love Queen Elizabeth Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress

National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nomination — Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nomination — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture

Nomination — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
1999 Tea with Mussolini Arabella
The World Is Not Enough M
2000 Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (narrator) (documentary)
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells Elizabeth (TV)
Chocolat Armande Voizin Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nomination — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nomination — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nomination — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture

Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2001 Iris Iris Murdoch BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year

Nomination — Academy Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Nomination — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
The Shipping News Agnis Hamm Nomination — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nomination — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
2002 The Importance of Being Earnest Lady Augusta Bracknell
Die Another Day M
2003 Bugs! (narrator) (short subject)
2004 Home on the Range Mrs. Caloway (voice)
The Chronicles of Riddick Aereon
Ladies in Lavender Ursula
2005 Pride & Prejudice Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Mrs Henderson Presents Mrs. Laura Henderson Nomination — Academy Award for Best Actress

Nomination — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

Nomination — British Independent Film Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

Nomination — London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year

Nomination — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2006 Doogal (narrator)
Casino Royale M Nominated — National Movie Award for Best Actress
Notes on a Scandal Barbara Covett British Independent Film Award for Best Actress

Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Academy Award for Best Actress

Nomination — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

Nomination — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Nomination — London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress

Nomination — London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year

Nomination — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress

Nomination — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nomination — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
2007 Go Inside to Greet the Light (narrator)
2008 Quantum of Solace M
2009 Rage Mona Carvell
Nine Liliane La Fleur post-production
2011 Bond 23 M pre-production


She has also lent her likeness and voice for the role of M in James Bond video games:



Theatre work

Source: "Judi Dench: With a Crack in her Voice" by John Miller

As an actress

St Mary's Abbey
  • 1957
York Mystery Plays - Virgin Mary
The Old Vic Companymarker
  • 1957
Hamlet - Ophelia
Measure for Measure - Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream - First Fairy
  • 1958
Twelfth Night - Maria (also USA tour)
Henry V - Katharine (also USA tour)
  • 1959
The Double Dealer - Cynthia
As You Like It - Phebe
The Importance of Being Earnest - Cecily
The Merry Wives of Windsor - Anne Page
  • 1960
Richard II - Queen
Romeo and Juliet - Juliet (also Venice Festival)
She Stoops to Conquer - Kate Hardcastle
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Hermia
:Also walk-on roles in King Lear and Henry VI )
The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 1961
The Cherry Orchard - Anya, Aldwych Theatre
  • 1962
Measure for Measure - Isabella, Stratford
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Titania, Stratford
A Penny for a Song - Dorcas Bellboys, Aldwych
The Nottingham Playhouse Company
  • 1963
Macbeth - Lady Macbeth (also West Africa tour)
Twelfth Night - Viola (also West Africa tour)
A Shot in the Dark - Josefa Lautenay, Lyric Theatre
The Oxford Playhouse Companymarker
  • 1964
Three Sisters - Irina
The Twelfth Hour - Anna
  • 1965
The Alchemist - Dol Common
Romeo and Jeannette - Jeannette
The Firescreen - Jacqueline
The Nottingham Playhouse Company
  • 1965
Measure for Measure - Isabella
Private Lives - Amanda
  • 1966
The Country Wife - Margery Pinchwife
The Astrakhan Coat - Barbara
St Joan - Joan
The Oxford Playhouse Company
  • 1966
The Promise - Lika
The Rules of the Game - Silia
  • 1967
The Promise - Lika, Fortune Theatre
Palace Theatremarker
  • 1968
Cabaret - Sally Bowles


The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 1969
The Winter's Tale - Hermione and Perdita, Stratford
Women Beware Women - Bianca, Stratford
Twelfth Night - Viola, Stratford
  • 1970
London Assurance - Grace Harkaway, Aldwych
Major Barbara - Barbara Undershaft, Aldwych
  • 1971
The Merchant of Venice - Portia, Stratford
The Duchess of Malfi - Duchess, Stratford
Toad of Toad Hall - Fielfmouse, Stoat and Mother Rabbit, Stratford
No Company
  • 1973
Context to Whisper - Aurelia, Royal, York
The Wolf - Vilma, Oxford Playhouse (also at Apollo, Queen's & New London)
  • 1974
The Good Companions - Miss Trant, Her Majesty's
  • 1975
The Gay Lord Quex - Sophy Fullgarney, Albery
The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 1975
Too True to Be Good - Sweetie Simpkins, Aldwych
  • 1976
Much Ado About Nothing - Beatrice, Stratford
Macbeth - Lady Macbeth, Stratford (also Donmar Warehousemarker and Young Vicmarker)
The Comedy of Errors - Adriana, Stratford
King Lear - Regan, Stratford
  • 1977
Pillars of the Community - Lona Hessel, Aldwych
  • 1978
The Way of the World - Millamant, Aldwych
  • 1979
Cymbeline - Imogen, Stratford
  • 1980
Juno and the Paycock - Juno Boyle, Aldwych
No Company
  • 1981
A Village Wooing - Young Woman, New End
The National Theatremarker Company
  • 1982
The Importance of Being Ernest - Lady Bracknell, Lyttleton
A King of Alaska - Deborah, Cottesloe
  • 1983
Pack of Lies - Barbara Jackson, Lyric
The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 1984
Mother Courage - Mother Courage, Barbican
Waste 0 Amy O'Connell, Barbican and Lyric


No Company
  • 1986
Mr and Mrs Nobody - Carrie Pooter, Garrick
The National Theatre Company
  • 1987
Antony and Cleopatra - Cleopatra, Olivier
Entertaining Strangers - Sarah Eldridge, Cottesloe
  • 1989
Hamlet - Gertrude, Olivier
The Cherry Orchard - Ranevskaya, Aldwych
  • 1991
The Plough and the Stars - Bessie Burgess, Young Vic
The National Theatre Company
  • 1991
The Sea - Mrs Rafi, Lyttleton
  • 1992
Coriolanus - Volumnia, Chichester
The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 1992
The Gift of the Gorgon - Helen Damson, Barbican and Wyndham's
The National Theatre Company
  • 1994
The Seagull - Arkadina, Olivier
  • 1995
Absolute Hell - Christine Foskett, Lyttleton
A Little Night Music - Desirée Armfeldt, Olivier
  • 1997
Amy's View - Esmé, Lyttleton
  • 1998
Amy's View - Esmé, Aldwych
No Company
  • 1998
Filumena - Filumena, Piccadilly
  • 1999
Amy's View - Esmé, Barrymore, New York
  • 2001
The Royal Family - Fanny Cavendish, Theatre Royal Haymarket
  • 2002
The Breath of Life - Frances, Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 2003
All's Well That Ends Well - The Countess, Stratford and Gielgud
No Company
  • 2006
Hay Fever - Judith Bliss, Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 2006
The Merry Wives - The Musical - Mistress Quickly, Stratford
Donmar Warehouse
  • 2009
Madame de Sade - Wyndham's Theatre


As a director



Discography



Awards and nominations

Theatre

Awards


Television

Awards


Nominations


References

Further reading



External links




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