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.
Awarded an honorary DLitt by Oxford University on 28 June 2000.
Was awarded an honourary Litt.D. (Doctor in Letters) from Trinity College on Friday, 11th July, 2003.
She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1984 (1983 season) for Best Actress in a New Play for Pack of Lies.
She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1988 (1987 season) for Best Actress in a New Play for Antony and Cleopatra.
Presented with The Society's Special Award for her outstanding contribution to British theatre at the 2004 Laurence Olivier Awards. [February 2004]
She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1996 (1995 season) for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in A Little Night Music at the Royal National Theatre Olivier Stage.
She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1996 (1995 season) for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Absolute Hell at the Royal National Theatre Lyttleton Stage.
She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1999 (1998 season) for Best Actress for her performance in Filumena.
She was nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress of the 1997 season for her performance in Amy's View at the Royal National Theatre: Lyttelton and then Aldwych theatres.
Younger sister of Jeffery Dench.
She was awarded the 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Special Award for her Outstanding Contributions to British Theatre.
She was awarded the 1982 London Critics' Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actress of 1981 for A Kind Of Alaska and The Importance of Being Earnest.
She was awarded the 1987 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actress for her performance in Anthony and Cleopatra.
She was awarded the 1987 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance in Anthony and Cleopatra.
She was awarded the 1982 London Evening Standard Award for Best Actress for her performance in A Kind of Alaska and The Importance of Being Earnest.
During the filming of As Time Goes By (1992) , she used to direct everybody to hide from the director when he left the set.
Even after winning so many acting awards, she still admits to being insecure and wanting to improve the next performance. She admits that she prefers stage first, television second and film in third place.
She was awarded the 1997 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama) for Best Actress for her performance in Amy's View at the Royal National Theatre.
She was awarded the 1997 London Evening Standard Theatre Award: The Patricia Rothermere Award for her contributions to theatre.
An Associate Member of RADA.
Won Broadway's 1999 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for "Amy's View."
Voted Best British Actress of all time in a poll for Sky TV [Feb 2005].
Was listed as a potential nominee on the 2005 Razzie Award nominating ballot. She was listed as a suggestion in the Worst Supporting Actress category for her performance in the film The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), she failed to receive a nomination however.
She was awarded a Companion of Honour in the 2005 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.
Currently supporting the Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds Restoration Appeal (2005).
Topped the poll in Britain's Finest Actresses, July 2005
Attended the Mount School and at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
She and Vanessa Redgrave were in the same class at drama school.
As of 2014, received seven Oscar nominations, all of them when she was already over the age of 60. No other actor or actress collected more nominations when older than 60, the closest runner-ups being Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Laurence Olivier, Spencer Tracy, Melvyn Douglas and Edith Evans with a mere three nominations each.
When she started training at the Central School of Speech and Drama, she admits she wasn't taking it as seriously as she ought to have done. She was caught out during an improvisation scene at which point she realised that that was what it was all about and studied harder than she had ever done in her life.
Was not able to attend the Oscars in 2007, because she had to undergo a knee surgery.
Shares two roles with both Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett. She and Winslet both played the title role in Iris (2001), and she and Blanchette have both played Queen Elizabeth. All three of them have played Ophelia in Hamlet.
At the opening of the Judi Dench Theatre in London in 1986 she was introduced as "Here she is, Miss Judy Geeson'.
She and her The Shipping News (2001) and Notes on a Scandal (2006) co-star Cate Blanchett both received Oscar-nominations for playing Queen Elizabeth I in 1999. Dench won for her supporting role in Shakespeare in Love (1998) while Blanchett was nominated for Elizabeth (1998).
Provides the narration for Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World's Epcot in the 4th version (soft opening December 2007, final opening scheduled for February 2008).
Judi Dench is the new narrator of "Spaceship Earth", the dark ride at EPCOT. She replaced Jeremy Irons after Walt Disney World and Siemens decided to update the classic ride housed inside the infamous golf-ball.
She is a frequent co-star of her close friend Geoffrey Palmer.
First woman to portray the 007 series character "M", which she did in GoldenEye (1995).
Good friend of Paul Scofield.
Awarded honorary D.Litt from the University of St Andrews, June 2008.
She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1970 Queen's Birthday Honours List and awarded the DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1988 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to drama.
In a 2004 opinion poll of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Dame Dench's performance as "Lady Macbeth" in Trevor Nunn's 1976 production of "Macbeth" was voted the second greatest Shakespearean performance of all time. Only Paul Scofield's masterful "King Lear" was ranked higher.
In her autobiography "And Furthermore," Dench says that she never really understood what was going on in the movie The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), but she enjoyed the experience of making the movie, and she thought the sets were great.
Has twice been nominated for an Oscar in the same year that another actress was nominated for playing the same role. She received Best Supporting Actress for playing Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998), while Cate Blanchett was nominated for Elizabeth (1998). She was later nominated for Best Actress in Iris (2001), for which Kate Winslet was also nominated for the title role.
Whilst training at the Old Vic Theatre in the 1950s, Dench shared a flat with Barbara Leigh-Hunt.
Was six months pregnant with her daughter, Finty Williams, when she completed her run of the play "London Assurance".
Following the birth of her daughter, Finty Williams, Dench and her husband immediately began trying for another child. However, having been unsuccessful, the couple looked into adoption when Dench was in her 40s, but they were turned down.
Became engaged to Michael Williams during Christmas 1970 after he proposed to her on a beach in Australia.
Became a grandmother at age 62 when her daughter Finty Williams gave birth to a son, Sam Michael Williams, on June 6, 1997.
A lifelong animal lover, Judi is the proud owner of a racehorse named Smokey Oakey. Also owns a dog, 4 cats, 2 Guinea pigs and some fish.
Counts Mrs Brown (1997) as the movie that became the quintessential breakthrough event of her career as a film actress, winning her her first Oscar nomination. Even though she'd performed regularly on stage in the US in Old Vic productions almost 40 years earlier, it wasn't until after this movie that Hollywood really came calling.
Dench is a supporter of Everton Football Club and she has been named as a patron of the soccer team's official charity "Everton in the Community".
She played a Countess in William Shakespeare's "All's Well That Ends Well" in London West End. [February 2004]
She visited Staunton, Virginia to promote the Shenandoah Shakespeare Theatre. [May 2004]
Playing Mistress Quickly in a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor - The Musical at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK. [January 2007]
Her father, Reginald Arthur Dench, was from Dorset, England, and her mother, Eleanora Olive (Jones), was from Dublin, Ireland.
The longest she has gone without an Oscar nomination is the 7 years between Notes on a Scandal (2006) and Philomena (2013).
As of 2014, has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: A Room with a View (1985), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chocolat (2000) and Philomena (2013). The only film to win in the category was Shakespeare in Love (1998).
Was the 114th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love (1998) at The 71st Annual Academy Awards (1999) on March 21, 1999.
Is one of 26 actresses who have received an Academy Award for their performance in a comedy; hers being for Shakespeare in Love (1998). The others in chronological order, are: Claudette Colbert (It Happened One Night (1934)), Loretta Young (The Farmer's Daughter (1947)), Josephine Hull (Harvey (1950)), Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday (1950)), Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday (1953)), Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower (1969)), Glenda Jackson (A Touch of Class (1973)), Lee Grant (Shampoo (1975)), Diane Keaton (Annie Hall (1977)), Maggie Smith (California Suite (1978)), Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard (1980)), Jessica Lange (Tootsie (1982)), Anjelica Huston (Prizzi's Honor (1985)), Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck (1987)), Cher (Moonstruck (1987)), Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy (1989)), Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King (1991)), Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny (1992)), Dianne Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway (1994)), Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite (1995)), Frances McDormand (Fargo (1996)), Helen Hunt (As Good as It Gets (1997)), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love (1998)), Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)), and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook (2012)).
She has two roles in common with Helen Mirren: (1) Dench played Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968), in which Mirren also appeared, while Mirren played her in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1981) and (2) Dench played Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998) while Mirren played her in Elizabeth I (2005).
A section of the paved river bank alongside the River Ouse in York, upstream of Lendal Bridge near the Museum Gardens, was named Dame Judi Dench Walk in honour of the city being her birthplace.
Is one of 9 actresses who have received an Academy Award nomination for portraying a real-life queen. The others in chronological order are Norma Shearer for Marie Antoinette (1938), Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter (1968), Geneviève Bujold for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Vanessa Redgrave for Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Janet Suzman for Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Helen Mirren for The Madness of King George (1994) and The Queen (2006), Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010).
Is one of 13 actresses who won their Best Supporting Actress Oscars in a movie that also won the Best Picture Oscar (she won for Shakespeare in Love (1998)). The others are Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind (1939), Teresa Wright for Mrs. Miniver (1942), Celeste Holm for Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Mercedes McCambridge for All the King's Men (1949), Donna Reed for From Here to Eternity (1953), Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront (1954), Rita Moreno for West Side Story (1961), Meryl Streep for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Juliette Binoche for The English Patient (1996), Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind (2001), Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago (2002) and Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave (2013).
The only person to always be credited "and Judi Dench as M" in all her James Bond opening credits sequences for her appearances. Bernard Lee did not get the credit in Dr. No (1962). Robert Brown never got the credit. Ralph Fiennes was credited as Gareth Mallory in Skyfall (2012).
Following her Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love (1998), the producers of the Bond franchise gave her character M a much larger role -- one central to the film's plot -- for the first time in the Bond franchise. While M had typically only been seen in Bond films in bookend scenes at the very beginning and end, this time around the writers made her past actions the primary motive for the film's two main villains. They did the same thing with M in Skyfall (2012), purportedly because they were planning to kill off her character and wanted her (platonic) relationship with Bond to come full circle.
Starred in two film adaptations of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. First in 1962, in the Royal Shakespeare Company production, The Cherry Orchard (1962), in which she played Anya, and in the 1981 BBC production The Cherry Orchard (1981), in which she played the lead, Mme. Ranevsky.
Shares a role with her Nine (2009) co-star Marion Cotillard: both played Lady Macbeth. Dench on stage in the '70s and Cotillard in the 2015 film adaptation, Macbeth (2015). They both co-starred opposite an actor who played Magneto in the X-Men franchise; Dench with Ian McKellen and Cotillard with Michael Fassbender.
Daughter of Reginald Arthur Dench (1897-1964) and Eleanora Olave Dench (née Jones) (1897-1983).
Great aunt of Jacob Bowker.
Aunt of Emma Dench.
Had "Carpe diem" tattooed on her right wrist.
Both she and Eileen Atkins have portrayed Princess Dragomiroff in the different versions of Agatha Christie's novel "Murder on the Orient Express"; Atkins in a 2010 episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989) and Dench in the film Murder on the Orient Express (2017). Prior to these adaptations Atkins and Dench played sisters on Cranford (2007).
Won the Best Actress in a Revival Award in the 1980 Laurence Olivier Awards for her performance in 'Juno and the Paycock'.
Paternal granddaughter of George and Bessie (née Smith) Dench. Both were born and raised in Weymouth, Dorset.
Paternal great granddaughter of Thomas (1840-1884), born in Weymouth, and Susan Jane (née Smith) Smith (1839-1916), born in Newhaven.
Paternal great great granddaughter of James (1814-1856) and Eliza (née Yeates) Smith (1817-1858). Both were born and raised in Toller, Dorset.
Paternal great great great granddaughter of John (1773-1857) and Mary (née Prior) Yeates (1784-1845). Both were born and raised in Dorset.