A big day for my Deadline video series The Actor’s Side as true movie and stage royalty Dame Judi Dench came by for an in-depth conversation about her life, career and the current film that has put her back on the awards circuit to which she is so accustomed. With Victoria & Abdul, she has already received Best Actress nominations from the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. This is her 12th Golden Globe nomination (with two wins), and she has amassed an astounding 26 BAFTA nominations over her long career.
There’s Oscar buzz too, of course; Dench has seven Academy Award nominations including a Best Supporting Actress win for Shakespeare in Love in 1999; at less than nine minutes, it is one of the shortest roles ever to take the prize.
We talk about that night, which she says she has little memory of except that somehow her brand-new Oscar wound up in an English pub later that week. Dench has total recall of her distinguished career — which, as she notes when I wish her a happy anniversary, started 60 years ago — September 9, 1957 — in a Liverpool production of Hamlet. She later moved to London and a stage career that has included a new role just about every year, until she slowed the pace recently to do more movies.
In addition to Victoria & Abdul, Dench also can be seen as the Princess in Murder On the Orient Express, but it is Queen Victoria — in a return to the character she played in her 1997 movie breakthrough Mrs. Brown — that is garnering all the awards attention. We talk about how people wrongly want to assume most of the parts she plays are English queens, but Dench dispels that myth by listing only five she’s ever played. The problem is, when she does play a queen, she usually gets nominated. The versatile actress reveals that a statue of Victoria sits proudly in her garden, and that her Victoria & Abdul role was new territory exploring the recently discovered relationship between the monarch and Abdul, an Indian footman who became her confidant and teacher.
In addition to her other works, we also of course talk about the eight James Bond movies in which she appeared as M, a role she cherishes. Check out our conversation above.
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