Dame Judi Dench has wooed audiences worldwide with her performances in the James Bond series and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and proved that she’s still got it by winning an impressive eighth Olivier Award on Sunday.
The Guardian reported that the 81-year-old actress won the best supporting actress award for her role as Paulina in The Winter’s Tale, which also starred Kenneth Branagh at the award ceremony held at London’s Royal Opera House. She now has the distinction of winning more Oliviers than any other performer before.
Judi Dench was previously awarded Oliviers for her roles in Macbeth, Juno and the Paycock, Pack of Lies, Antony and Cleopatra, A Little Night Music and Absolute Hell, spanning from 1977 to 1996. On top of these roles, she was given the special Olivier award in 2004.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m absolutely livid as I had a bet with my grandson, which I’ve lost and I’m never going to be able to forget it,” said Dench jokingly in her acceptance speech. She then praised the crew, stage management, and Branagh’s company who produced the show for the Garrick Theatre.
Dench continued, “It’s lovely to have, but in actual fact it belongs to all those people just as much as it belongs to me.”
Some of the other productions to receive awards during the Oliviers’ 40th anniversary, were Gypsy, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and the Cyndi Lauper/Harvey Fierstein adaptation Kinky Boots. Lauper also performed at the ceremony. Actors who were nominated included a-listers Benedict Cumberbatch, Nicole Kidman, and Mark Rylance.
Actors that also won, according to BBC News, included Imelda Staunton for Gypsy, Kenneth Cranham for The Father and Denise Gough for People, Places and Things. Gough addressed the issue surrounding diversity, during her acceptance speech.
“In a year where we have seen progress made in racial diversity on our stages it’s just a bit sad that in this category it hasn’t been represented,” said Gough.
Backstage, Judi Dench proclaimed that she was settling the bet she made with her grandson by taking him out to dinner to celebrate. She was also said to be overwhelmed by the evening’s activities.
“I’m rather overcome, actually … I didn’t expect it,” said Dench.
When Reuters asked if the Skyfall star has any plans to slow down at her age she brilliantly replied: “Who wants to slow down? No, I want to be employed. It’s putting the car in the garage that you will never get it started.”
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph‘s theater critic, proclaimed that Judi Dench was “the greatest actress of our age” back in December 2014, but the newspaper republished his story following her win. He wrote that Dench was perhaps “making up for lost time” because she was filming and starring in the films Esio Trot, with Dustin Hoffman and Richard III in 2014.
“It took a while for the worlds of television and film to cotton on to just how good she is,” said Cavendish. “Hollywood didn’t sit up and take note until she got cast as M in the Bond film Goldeneye in 1995 — a role she made as complex and interesting as anything in the franchise.”
Cavendish, also described her voice as having a “lived-in” quality and said, “She can be impassive, implacable, frightening – witness her long-hallowed performance as Lady Macbeth at the RSC [Royal Shakespeare Company] in 1976.”
According to the website What’s On Stage, Judi Dench expressed her frustrations last week, about how actors sometimes never hear back regarding if they’ve received a part or not. She spoke at a talk facilitated by The Actors Centre at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
“It doesn’t take much, it is very easy to write a letter. It’s just good manners,” said Dench. “I bet there are people in this room who have gone up for something and don’t hear a thing afterwards.”
(Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)