Judi Dench

One of the most celebrated actresses of her generation, British national treasure Judi Dench spent the first half of her career treading the boards with various prestigious theatre companies before venturing into Hollywood with award-winning roles in "Mrs Brown" (1997), "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) and "Iris" (2001). Born in the English county of Yorkshire in 1934, Judi Dench studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama and landed her first professional gig in 1957 playing Ophelia in an Old Vic production of "Hamlet." Dench spent the next four years further honing her craft with the company before moving on to the Playhouse theatres in Nottingham and Oxford and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Dench established herself as a Shakespearean great during her decade-spanning stint with the latter, but still found the time to simultaneously pursue a screen career, too. After making her feature film debut in thriller "The Third Secret" (1964), she won the first two of her many BAFTAs for turns in kitchen sink drama "Four in the Morning" (1965) and Rashomon-esque anthology piece "Talking to a Stranger" (BBC2, 1966), appeared in crime movies "He Who Rides a Tiger" (1965) and "Dead Cert" (1974) and starred in Harold Pinter's "Langrishe, Go Down" (BBC2, 1978) and Emmy-winning biopic "On Giant's Shoulders" (BBC2, 1979). Dench became more of a British TV regular during the 1980s, with memorable roles including Aunt Sadie in Nancy Mitford adaptation "Love in a Cold Climate" (ITV, 1980), Madame Ranevsky in Chekhov play "The Cherry Orchard" (BBC1, 1981) and translator Laura Dalton in "A Fine Romance" (ITV, 1981-84), a sitcom in which she starred alongside real-life husband Michael Williams. Following an 11-year absence, Dench returned to the film world to play novelist Eleanor Lavish in Merchant Ivory production "A Room with a View" (1985) and head back to her Yorkshire roots for acclaimed mystery "Wetherby" (1985). She went on to narrate Derek Jarman drama "The Angelic Conversation" (1987), appear as Mrs Beaver in Evelyn Waugh's "A Handful of Dust" (1988) and play Mistress Quickly in "Henry V" (1989) in which she forged a long-standing working relationship with director Kenneth Branagh. After impressing as a newly-single housewife in miniseries "Behaving Badly" (Channel 4, 1989) and starring alongside Geoffrey Palmer as two reunited lovers in gentle sitcom "As Time Goes By" (BBC1, 1992-2005), Dench appeared as Richard E. Grant's mother in rom-com "Jack and Sarah" (1995) and was cast as boss M in Pierce Brosnan's first James Bond outing "Goldeneye" (1995), going on to reprise the role in every 007 movie up until "Skyfall" (2012). But the Hollywood phase of her career truly began when she portrayed Queen Victoria in historical biopic "Mrs Brown" (1997). Dench received significant Oscar buzz for her performance but was only rewarded by the Academy a year later for her eight-minute supporting role as Queen Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love" (1998). Dench consolidated her awards darling status with the parts of eccentric landlady Armande in "Chocolat" (2000), saxophone-playing widower Elizabeth in "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells" (HBO, 2000) and dementia-stricken novelist Iris Murdoch in biopic "Iris" (2001), also picking up a Tony Award for her turn in "Amy's View." After adding "The Shipping News" (2001) and "The Importance of Being Earnest" (2002) to her filmography, Dench made a few surprising detours, voicing a cow in animation "Home on the Range" (2004) and appearing alongside Vin Diesel in sci-fi spin-off "The Chronicles of Riddick" (2004). But she soon returned to more familiar fare, co-starring with fellow Dame Maggie Smith in "Ladies in Lavender" (2004), playing Catherine de Bourgh in Joe Wright's take on "Pride and Prejudice" (2005) and starring as a theatre-loving socialite in "Mrs Henderson Presents" (2005). Dench received several awards nominations for her quietly menacing turn opposite Cate Blanchett in "Notes on a Scandal" (2006), assumed the role of Miss Matilda Jenkins in period dramedy "Cranford" (BBC1, 2007) and showcased her musical talents as costume designer Lilli in "Nine" (2009). Dench remained just as prolific as she approached her eighties, showing up as Mrs. Fairfax in "Jane Eyre" (2011), portraying real-life figures Annie Hoover in "J. Edgar" (2011) and Sybil Thorndike in "My Week with Marilyn" (2011) and leading a cast of British acting veterans in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (2012). After starring as an Irishwoman determined to find the son she was forced to put up for adoption in "Philomena" (2013), Dench charmed audiences as the tortoise-owning widow in Roald Dahl adaptation "Esio Trot" (BBC One, 2014), appeared as time-manipulating Miss Esmeralda Avocet in fantasy "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" (2016) and added "The Hollow Crown" (BBC Two, 2016) and "All Is Lost" (2018) to her list of Shakespeare-themed works. She also appeared in a string of other period dramas, including "Murder on the Orient Express" (2017), "Tulip Fever" (2017) and "Victoria & Abdul" (2017), once again portraying Queen Victoria in the latter. Dench then turned TV presenter for a documentary exploring her passion for trees before playing a spy in "Red Joan" (2018), headmistress in "Six Minutes to Midnight" (2019) and the wise Old Deuteronomy in Tom Hooper's much talked-about adaptation of Broadway musical "Cats" (2019).