National treasure and legend of the stage and screen Dame Judi Dench has been honoured with her first Lifetime Achievement Award this week. At the European Film Awards in Copenhagen, Dame Judi insisted that such an accolade does not mean the end of her already illustrious career.
Judi is one of Britain’s most prolific dramatic actresses, with an astounding number of stage credits to her name. Starting out in repertory as so many of her generation of performers did, Judi first made her name in Shakespeare productions in the late 1950’s, with an acclaimed production of Henry V marking her Broadway debut in 1958. Other notable credits include Sally Bowles in the London premiere of the classic musical Cabaret, and 1999’s Amy’s View in New York, for which her role as Esme Allen won her a Tony award to add to her unsurpassed seven Olivier awards.
Dame Judi made her first movie appearance in 1964’s The Third Secret. She then starred in a number of small scale films and played minor roles in successful films such as A Room with a View and Jack and Sarah, achieving worldwide movie stardom at the age of sixty in the1995 Bond film Goldeneye. Since Goldeneye, Judi has enjoyed a long, successful gig in the Bond series as spy boss M. Other hit films include Mrs Brown, Tea with Mussolini, Mrs Henderson Presents, Iris and Notes on a Scandal. For her role as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Lonve, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1998. Not bad for just eight minutes on screen.
Judi, who turned 74 this week, said, "I have been acting for 51 years now, so I hope lifetime achievement means more than 51 years, because I'm about to do a play in my fifty-second year. It would be nice to think it's not all over."
Her fifty-second year in the business will see Dame Judi stepping onto the Wyndham’s stage to play the title role in Yukio Mishima’s Madame de Sade. The intense, historical drama is the third of four plays which make up the already triumphant Donmar West End season, after Ivanov starring Kenneth Branagh and Twelfth Night with Derek Jacobi opened to ecstatic notices. Madame de Sade is following suit with rapid ticket sales, and Judi is sure to have even more awards flying her way. Dame Judi certainly has achieved a lot in her lifetime, but it is definitely far from over.
Published: 12/12/2008 13:24:44