Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench at Skyfall press conference

Dame Judi Dench has appeared in every Bond movie since Goldeneye including the successful reboot with Casino Royale, making her the longest-running current cast member of the franchise.  Following the resumption of work on Skyfall (the 23rd official Bond movie), it was announced that she would once again reprise her role as ‘M’.

Judith Olivia Dench was born on the 9th of December, 1934 in Heworth, York, England. Her father was Reginald Arthur Dench a doctor who met her mother (Eleanor Olave) while studying medicine at Dublin. His position as a general practitioner for the York’s Theatre Royal led to her introduction of the Theatre world. During her free time as a child, she would often accompany him backstage to meet with touring performers.

In 1957, she made her professional theatre debut under the Old Vic Company.  She would later grow to become one of the nation’s leading Shakespearian performing for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Company in prominent roles such as Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Ophelia (Hamlet) and Lady Macbeth (Macbeth).

Her film debut was The Third Secret (1964). Her next movie, Four in the Morning (1965) earned her the BAFTA award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. Although she starred in a few films, most of her work during the next two decades revolved around the theatre because, as she explained it, acting gave her the opportunity to convince the audience about who she was based on her acting skills and not because she fit the typecast.

Her first significant movie role did not occur until 1995 where she was cast as M, the head of the British secret intelligence in the Bond Movie Goldeneye. However, her superior performance had already won her 3 different BAFTA awards for her roles in the films Four in the Morning (1965), Wetherby (1985) and A Handful of Dust (1988).

Following the success of Goldeneye, she won several more awards including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Queen Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love. She also won a lot of critical acclaim for her roles in movies such as Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Notes on a Scandal.

She has won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one Tony Award, an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and an amazing ten BAFTAs. She has been nominated for six academy awards. In 1970 Judi Dench was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire. She was later promoted to Dame Commander of the order 18 years later.

In 1971, she married fellow Michael William. They remained married until his death in 2001 following his battle with lung cancer. He was 65. Before his death, they both starred in several stage productions as well as the TV sitcom A fine Romance. They had a daughter Tara Frances Williams who followed in the footsteps of her parents by becoming an actress with the professional name Finty Williams.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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