Judi Dench

Judi Dench


Life Story

Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and at Old Vic Theatre. She is a ten-time BAFTA winner including Best Actress in a Comedy Series for A Fine Romance (1981) in which she appeared with her husband, Michael Williams, and Best Supporting Actress in A Handful of Dust (1988) and A Room with a View (1985). She received an ACE award for her performance in the television series Star Quality: Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill (1985). She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1970, a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1988 and a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in 2005.


Michael Williams (5 February 1971 - 11 January 2001) ( 1 child)


When Royal Shakespeare Company Director Peter Hall asked Judi Dench to play the title role in a staged, and then later televised, production of Cleopatra, Dench refused, saying that her Cleopatra would be a "menopausal dwarf." Director Hall was later successful in coaxing Dench into the role, of which she won rave reviews from both theatre critics and TV audiences.
Her first stage appearance was as a snail in a play at her Quaker junior school.
She made history in 1996 as the first person to win two Laurence Olivier awards (for British theatre) for different roles.
Her 1999 Oscar was awarded for an six-minute performance in only four scenes as "Queen Elizabeth I" in Shakespeare in Love (1998). It is the second shortest performance ever to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the only shorter one being Beatrice Straight's five-minute performance in Network (1976).
Mother, with Michael Williams, of Finty Williams.
Created the role of Sally Bowles in the London premiere of the musical, Cabaret.
She was cast to play "Grizabella" in the original West End production of "CATS", but she tore her Achilles Tendon and was forced to quit the musical. Elaine Paige replaced her.
She was ranked second in the 2001 Orange Film Survey of the greatest British Film Actresses.
Received the Film Actress Award for her role in Chocolat at The Variety Club Showbusiness Awards 2002. Unfortunately Ms Dench was in attendance at the Berlin Film Festival and couldn't attend the Awards ceremony, but was able to send a televised message congratulating the charity on its 50th anniversary.


Personal Quotes 

[on her long marriage to Michael Williams] We were just happy to be in the same room together.
My only regret is that I didn't have more children.
[in 1994, when asked why A Room with a View (1985) was such a success] I've never seen it, so I don't know. Florence was lovely, of course, and it's a wonderful love story. I did enjoy doing the part, because Maggie Smith and I were old friends from 1958. We both arrived in Florence on the same day and neither of us had any family with us, so we would spend all day together filming and then go out to dinner together, catching up on our Old Vic days. But I didn't enjoy working with James Ivory. I didn't feel that I was on his wavelength and I didn't feel that he wanted me in the film, I have to say that. I remember doing that scene in the middle of the square where she goes mad and attacks the man selling postcards; James went to see the rushes and told me afterwards that everyone had laughed at it, they'd thought it was very funny. "Well done", he said to me. I thought perhaps we'd turned the corner but, when I came to post-sync the film, that scene was missing. When I asked why, he told me that Helena Bonham Carter hadn't been feeling up to it that day, so he'd cut the whole sequence. I don't know if that was the real reason he cut it - I just don't know.
I hate how people have been attacking Daniel Craig. It's despicable and it disgusts me. I have filmed with him in Prague and the Bahamas and he is a fine actor. He brings something new and edgy to the role. His critics will be proved wrong.
And then it was working with Bob Hoskins, who I had never worked with before - except radio. It was like being given a wonderful meal - full of the things you love most.
I don't like reading scripts very much. I like it better for someone to just explain to me what it is about this story.
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.
The best moment of playing [William Shakespeare's] Juliet is the nanosecond when they offer you the part.
On plastic surgery: I've considered it, but I'm too old now. Every time I go to America I wonder if there is some process where it could all be sucked out and I could be out of there in time for dinner, but I'm frightened it would all drop off under the anaesthetic.
Of course I have a temper. Who hasn't? And the older I get the more angry I get about things. It's not sudden anger, it smoulders and then if I really let it go on for a bit the shit hits the fan. I get very angry about general injustice. I get angry about the way people say 'Tomorrow X will make a speech about X'. Just let them say it. I get furious about the whole business of not allowing conkers in school, and banning things because they are supposedly dangerous. I am riveted by the current Iraq inquiry, though angry already because I feel it will end with a report and nobody's actually going to be arraigned for what happened.


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