Like many artist from abroad, Dame Judith Olivia “Judi” Dench has been known this side of the ocean for a relatively short period of her long and splendid acting career.
Born in Heworth, York, in England, she became a staple presence on stage as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Old Vic Theater, as well as on television with numerous awards and accolades, and was later recognized as the Best British Actress and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1970, and a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1988. All this before she even had the chance to begin her career in Hollywood and the rest of the world.
Strangely enough, her role as the new “M” in the James Bond series catapulted her to the modern commercial film industry. It’s been said her “M” has been modeled after real-life head of the MI5 Dame Stella Rimington, and she has made such a strong imprint in the series that it was the highest point and most important storyline in “Skyfall” the last film in the series to request her services.
But Dench’s long experience in classical theater brought her to many of her roles (A Room With a View, Jane Eyre and Middlemarch, among others) including the one that earned her an Oscar for Supporting Actress by playing an 8-minute version of Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare In Love.
But not everything the Dame does has to do with costume dramas. She has also shined in films that depict very modern characters: The Shipping News, Nine, Rage and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which seemed to have helped launch a genre of films for adults over 60 years old.
She takes all her success with a pinch of salt (just as other great British actresses like Emma Thompson and Helen Mirren), always prompt to throw a joke at the seriousness of her many awards and recognitions. Her latest Oscar Nomination for her performance in Stephen Frears’ Philomena is proof of her acting power to connect with audiences of any age as she manages to tackle a very serious subject with comments on how Americans are obese because of the food portions.
Here is a list of 10 of her Not-to-miss performances. Many more are not listed, but they can be counted in a body of work that is both impressive and a catalogue of how to master the art of acting.
And now that you're at it, check on the other award season nominated actresses: