Dame Judi Dench (born 9.12.1934)
Dame Judi Dench is a world-renowned and highly revered English film, stage and television actress.
Dame Judi Dench: Childhood
Judi Dench was born in Heworth, York, to Eleanora Olave Dench and Reginald Arthur Dench. She was raised as a Methodist until the age of 13, when she became a Quaker. Her brother Jeffery Dench, is also an actor.
Judi Dench: Career
As a child, growing up, Judi Dench had frequent contact with the theatre; her father was the GP for York Theatre and her mother was the wardrobe mistress there. Actors often stayed in the Dench family household.
Dench originally trained as a set designer but became interested in drama as her brother attended the Central School of Speech. She was later accepted to the same school, where she was a classmate of Vanessa Redgrave.
Judi Dench's first professional stage appearance came in 1957, with the Old Vic Company at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. She played the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. Dench later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and played the role of Anya in The Cherry Orchard. Dench's film debut came in 1964, when she appeared in The Third Secret.
In 1968, Judi Dench enjoyed a long run in the popular West End musical, Cabaret. She then rejoined the Royal Shakespeare Company, for a number of successful performances. Her stage acting career continued apace and in 1978, she appeared in the BBC television film Langrishe, Go Down, with Jeremy Irons, with the screenplay written by Harold Pinter.
Dench's popularity grew even further from the 1980s onwards. In 1995 she took on the role of James Bond's boss, M, in the James Bond film franchise, including appearances in GoldenEye, with Pierce Brosnan, as well as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig. In 1999, Dench won the Tony Award for her role in the Broadway production of Amy's View by David Hare. She also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, playing the role of Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare In Love. The film also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Colin Firth and Ben Affleck.
One of Judi Dench's close friends is Geoffrey Palmer, with whom she has co-starred on a number of occasions. They worked together on the series As Time Goes By, as well as the film Mrs Brown, which also starred Billy Connolly and Gerard Butler. Judi Dench earned herself another Oscar nomination for her role in this film.
In 2000, Judi Dench appeared in Chocolat, which also starred Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, landing another Oscar nomination. She got yet more acclaim and Oscar nominations for her roles in 2001's Iris (with Kate Winslet), Mrs Henderson Presents, (with Bob Hoskins, Kelly Reilly and Will Young) and Notes on a Scandal, which starred Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy.
Dench has always maintained variety in her work and splits her time between stage and screen. In 2006, she returned to the West End, with a performance in Hay Fever, along with Belinda Lang, Kim Medcalf and Peter Bowles.
Returning to the small screen, Judi Dench accepted a starring role in the popular BBC TV series Cranford, which also featured Francesca Annis, Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton.
In 2009, Judi Dench played the role of Madame de Merteuil in Madame de Sade, followed by a renewed collaboration with Sir Peter Hill in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Judi Dench: Personal Life
Judi Dench married the actor Michael Williams in 1971 and they have a child together: Tara Cressida Williams. Their daughter is also an actress, known professionally as Finty Williams.
Judi and Michael have worked together in the past, most notably in the TV sitcom A Fine Romance. Michael Williams passed away in 2001, aged 65, after suffering from lung cancer.
In 1970, Judi Dench was appointed an OBE. In 1988 she was promoted to Dame Commander of the British Empire and in 2005, she was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.