Judi Dench: The actress who can play it all

Joan Howard

Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

And you can call me “M”! Or "Queen Elizabeth!" Or "Ophelia!" How much do you know about this Dame, Judith Olivia “Judi” Dench, and her many claims to fame?

Who is Dame Judi Dench?

Dench is a British actress who has performed and won awards in stage, TV and film. She is also an author.

Where was Dench born?

Both her parents were involved in the theatre. Her mother worked in wardrobes and her father, a doctor, was also an actor.

Who played the biggest role, influencing Dench to pursue acting?

It was her brother Jeffrey, an actor in his own right, who encouraged her to attend London’s Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. Dench achieved a degree and won the Gold Medal as Outstanding Student.

Why did Dench’s husband, Michael Williams, encourage Dench to star in the James Bond movies?

Williams was very enthusiastic about Dench playing the role. According to Dench, he said, “Oh God, oh crikey, you’ve got to do it.”

What gift did Dench’s husband Michael give her every week?

Williams gifted Dench with a red rose every Friday for the almost 30 years they were married. Williams died in 2001.

What does the title Dame mean?

This honor was bestowed on Dench in 1988. The full title is Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

What role did Dench play in her first stage appearance?

In her Quaker junior school, at the age of five, she played the title role of a snail. The play was "Four and Twenty Tailors Went to Kill a Snail," which comes from a nursery rhyme.

In Shakespeare’s "Hamlet," Dench played the role of Ophelia. What was the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia?

This role was Dench’s professional stage debut. She would go on to act in several other Shakespeare plays.

In which 1999 movie did Dench work with her husband?

Dench and husband Michael worked together in both movies and TV. The couple had one child together, Finty, who is also an actress.

What British TV sitcom did Judi and her husband star in?

The sitcom was well received and ran for 26 episodes. Dench received the BAFTA award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

Television roles came into play for Dench in 1959 when she starred in what BBC Series?

This six-part series was broadcast live. Consequently, there were no recordings available.

What part was Dench cast to play in the musical “Cats”?

Dench was set to play the part of Grizabella. Before she could do so, she suffered a torn Achilles tendon and had to leave the musical.

Who did Dench co-star with in “The Chronicles of Riddick”?

Diesel courted Dench by sending her flowers to convince her to play the part of Aereon. She did, but unfortunately the movie received bad reviews.

In the movie "J. Edgar," what role did Dench play?

Dench starred with Leonardo DiCaprio, who played the role of Hoover. She played his mother. Clinton Eastwood directed the movie.

What stage production featured Dench in a singing role?

Dench never considered herself a singer, but her performances as Sally Bowles were well received. "Cabaret" was her first musical performance.

Which animated character has Dench voiced?

Featured in "Angelina Ballerina," Dench did the voice-over for Miss Lilly. Her daughter, Finty, was Angelina.

There have been 24 Bond movies. How many did Dench star in?

Her character, M, was actually killed in her seventh Bond film, "Skyfall," and Dench cried when she learned of M's fate. However, Dench was brought back to play the role in an eighth Bond film, "Spectre," with some creative writing.

What was the first Bond movie Dench starred in as “M”?

In 1995, Dench established herself as a Hollywood favorite in this film. She became highly favored with American audiences.

Who played James Bond in the first movie Dench starred in?

Dench played the role of M in the four Bond films Brosnan starred in. Although Brosnan left the role, the films he starred in still remain some of the highest grossing in the Bond series.

Who played the role of “M” before Dench?

Dench was the first woman to play “M” and she is considered the favorite. A man is scheduled to play “M” in the next Bond film, 2018's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."

Who is Jack the Bulldog?

Jack, a Royal Doulton statue, is a reminder of Dench’s contribution to the 007 series. He played a cameo role in "Skyfall," where he sat on M’s desk and survived an explosion with some damage. He was seen again in the 2015 Bond movie, "Spectre."

Dench was never referred to as any name other than M on-screen until "Skyfall." What name was revealed?

When M died in "Skyfall," she bequeathed her belongings to Bond and her character was called Olivia. Appropriate, since that is Dench’s middle name in real life.

In what role did Dench have only an eight-minute performance?

Dench played the role of Queen Elizabeth. speaking for only eight minutes. That performance won her an Academy Award for Supporting Actress.

Dench’s first Academy Award nomination was for Best Actress in what movie?

Dench played the role of Queen Victoria. The movie was originally intended to air as an episode of Masterpiece Theater.

How did Dench feel about playing M?

Dench once said she didn’t like filming very much. She did however tell the NY Post that “playing M is the closest to glamour I’ve ever got.”

Which was the first movie Dench acted in, in 1964?

"The Third Secret" was a crime drama, with Dench playing the role of Miss Humphries. It was directed by Charles Crichton, who would later write and direct "A Fish Called Wanda."

Dench directed what TV production in 1989?

This love triangle drama directed by Dench featured Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. It was Dench’s first time directing.

Dench received an Academy Award nomination for which film?

Dench was nominated for every one of these films. However, she did not win in any of them.

What 2016 dark drama did Dame Dench act in?

In this dark fantasy drama, Dench played the role of a wounded Ymbryne. Her character, Miss Avocet, had to use a crossbow in the film.

In the upcoming 2017 film, "Murder on the Orient Express," which famous male movie star will play the lead?

Dench will play Princess Dragomiroff in the upcoming FOX film, which is expected to be released in 2017. It is a remake of 1974's "Murder on the Orient Express."

What is the name of the book Dench authored in 2010?

Dench wrote about her 54-year career in "And Furthermore." She refuses to call it an autobiography or a memoir, because her life isn't over and the book isn't the final word. She said she plans to keep working “right to the end.”

Who is sometimes mistaken for Dench?

Both Dench and Mirren are famous British actresses. Both have also been honored with the title of Dame.

Dench's father was the resident doctor for which creative enterprise?

Dench's father, Reginald Dench, was the resident doctor for the Theatre Royal in York and sometimes acted as well. Her mother was musically inclined. No wonder she and her brother, Jeffrey, both became actors.

What disease does Dench suffer from?

Unable to read, Dench has someone read scripts to her. Often the person is her daughter or her agent.

Dench has a tattoo. On what part of her body is it found?

For Dench’s 81st birthday, her daughter Finty gifted her with the tattoo. On her right wrist she displays "carpe diem," Latin for “seize the day."

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