Judi Dench kicked off her career in 1957 in the theatre scene playing many different roles in Shakespearean dramas such as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Hamlet but segued on to movie screens which landed her a BAFTA Award for the most promising newcomer, the first of so many to come.
Judi Dench is one of Britain’s most beloved gems whose love for acting made her a global phenomenon. With more awards under her belt than most actors receive in their lifetime, let’s look at some of her timeless classics that landed her title as one of the greatest actresses in British History
Mrs. Brown (1997)
Dench gives an outstanding performance in one of her biggest roles as Queen Victoria who experiences utter despair as she deals with the tragic death of her husband, King Albert. She redeems her zest for life with a new flair of love or friendship – it’s up to the viewer to decide – but many recognize this fiery fling between two people. The role of Mr. Brown is played by the fabulous Billy Connolly and with its exquisite royal turn in the plot, Mrs Brown is a role that turned Dench into a Hollywood star.
Casino Royale (2006)
Dench reached international fame when she starred in an array of James Bond films between 1995 (GoldenEye) and 2012 (Skyfall) which proved her ability to execute very diverse roles. In the 2006 Bond hit Casino Royale, Dench revives her role as ‘M’, the head of MI6, while Daniel Craig’s Bond embarks on a gambling-themed adventure around the world. These days, he’d probably be investigating similar gambling sites online but back then, it was all about the bright lights of the physical casino.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Dench plays the supporting role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in this fresh take on the Jane Austen film, a role she was born to play. She executes a level of authority and sheer power as her approval is much dependent on. The movie even reached a much younger crowd who wouldn’t normally find period pieces attractive. As a captivating love story about five sisters looking for husbands, it’s a real “chick flick” that even had men glued to the screen.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Dench landed an Academy Award for best-supporting actress when she played Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 box office hit, Shakespeare in Love. A witty Romantic Period Comedy-Drama about a young William Shakespear who runs out of ideas and into serious financial issues for his theater productions to continue. He falls in love and finds inspiration through a fellow actor who happens to be a woman (Gwenyth Paltrow) dressed in men’s clothing.
For Shakespear to make money he gets Wessex to agree to pay him £50 if he convinces the audience of the essence of love. This final play is judged by Queen Elizabeth I (Judi Dench) who also later forbids Wessex to arrest the cast when Viola’s true identity is revealed. Dench’s scenes were short but powerful, strong enough to land her the award.
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Directed by Charles Dance, Dench portrays a woman named Ursula in this odd tale set in the 1930s in Cornwall. Ursula is a spinster who lives with her widowed sister Janet, played by the wonderful Maggie Smith. The story tells a tale of a town shaken up when an attractive yet mysterious gentleman played by Daniel Brühl washes up on shore one day.
Dench does an outstanding job at playing a spinster, unmarried and still a virgin who falls deeply in love with this foreign man. Ladies in Lavender is a screenplay based on a 1908 short story by William J. Locke.