Judi Dench’s Tearful Goodbye: Actress Announces Final Update

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A stern-looking woman with short, gray hair stands leaning forward with her hands on a table. She is wearing a dark blazer over a black top and a brooch. She is in a well-lit room with large windows in the background.

Credit: Sony

Is Judi Dench saying goodbye to Hollywood? It appears that she is hanging up her acting career for good.

judi dench as m
Credit: Eon Productions

Dame Judi Dench is one of the most respected and beloved actresses in the entertainment industry, renowned for her versatile performances across film, television, and theater. Her career spans several decades and has seen her rise from humble beginnings to become a celebrated Hollywood icon. Here’s a look at her illustrious career, her most significant roles, the awards she has garnered, her personal life, and her special connection with Disney.

Judi Dench began her acting career on stage in the mid-1950s, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her extraordinary talent quickly became apparent, and she earned a reputation as one of the finest stage actresses of her generation. Despite her success in theater, her entry into Hollywood came much later.

Dench’s Hollywood breakthrough came with her role as M in the James Bond film series. She first appeared in Golden Eye (1995) and continued to portray the iconic character until Skyfall (2012). Her performance brought a new depth and gravitas to the role, earning her widespread acclaim and significantly boosting her profile in Hollywood.

Judi Dench’s filmography is rich and diverse, featuring a range of powerful and memorable performances. Some of her most notable films include:

  • Shakespeare in Love (1998): Dench’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her brief but impactful performance remains one of her most celebrated.
  • Philomena (2013): In this moving drama, Dench plays Philomena Lee, a woman searching for her long-lost son. The role garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
  • Mrs. Brown (1997): Her performance as Queen Victoria in this historical drama won her a BAFTA Award and an Academy Award nomination.
  • Chocolat (2000): Dench played Armande Voizin, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and its sequel showcased her talent in comedy-drama, further endearing her to international audiences.

Judi Dench’s contributions to film, theater, and television have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. She has won an Academy Award, multiple BAFTA Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. In addition to these, she has received critical acclaim for her stage performances, earning several Olivier Awards.

In 1988, Dench was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to drama, solidifying her status as one of Britain’s most cherished actresses.

She married British actor Michael Williams in 1971, and they remained together until his death in 2001. The couple had one daughter, Finty Williams, who is also an actress. Despite her global fame, Dench remains grounded and is known for her humility and dedication to her craft. She has spoken openly about her challenges, including her struggles with macular degeneration, a condition affecting her vision.

(L-R) Actress Judi Dench and Spaceship Earth
Credit: Inside the Magic

In addition to her film and theater work, Judi Dench has a special connection with Disney. She is the voice of the iconic Spaceship Earth attraction at EPCOT in Walt Disney World. Spaceship Earth, a geodesic sphere that serves as the park’s symbol, takes guests on a journey through the history of human communication.

Dench’s narration, which was introduced in 2008, guides visitors with her soothing and authoritative voice, enhancing the immersive experience of the ride.

Her career with Disney nearly exploded a few years ago! 

Phil Saunders, concept artist for both Lucasfilm and Marvel (and best known for crafting Iron Man’s iconic suits), recently unveiled a fascinating piece of concept art from Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019). The artwork depicts a scene that never made it into the final film: Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Poe Dameron’s droid companion, BB-8, conversing with an elderly woman within what seems to be a private home.

Saunders said:

“Another random shot from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In an earlier version of the script, Rey would have sought out the original designer of the Millenium Falcon [sic: Millennium Falcon] to find a piece of hardware that could stop the First Order armada. Dame Judy Dench was on the wishlist for the role, and would have been great. Rey finds her on yet another desert planet of course, and her home would have been carved into the top of a spectacular mesa. I was just tasked with adapting a piece of reference provided by the art department into an interesting interior.”

According to Phil Saunders’ caption, the concept art hints at a potential role for the unnamed elderly woman (possibly played by Judi Dench) in Rey, Dameron, and Finn’s (John Boyega) mission. This role could have been related to their search for the Sith Wayfinder, ultimately leading them to uncover Emperor Palpatine’s secret following on Exegol.

Now, Judi is stating that she is done with the spotlight and Hollywood as she cannot act anymore.

While attending the Chelsea Flower Show recently, Judi Dench’s response to a question about future acting roles sparked headlines. When a reporter inquired about upcoming projects, Dench replied with a touch of humor, “No, no, I can’t even see!”

This comment has fueled speculation that Dench might be limiting her acting work due to vision challenges. The esteemed actress has previously spoken openly about her struggles with age-related macular degeneration.

Representatives for the actor, 89, have indicated that there is nothing further to add.

judi dench as m in james bond
Credit: Eon Productions

Judi Dench has been living with age-related macular degeneration, a condition affecting over 700,000 people in the UK. She’s been refreshingly candid about the challenges it presents to her vision.

In a 2022 interview with Louis Theroux, she expressed her continued passion for acting: “I don’t want to retire. I’m not doing much at the moment because I can’t see. It’s bad.” However, she acknowledged a key obstacle: “I have a photographic memory so a person saying to me, ‘This is your line…’ I can do that.”

Last year, she spoke to the Sunday Mirror about her ongoing efforts to adapt: “I can’t see on a film set anymore” and “I can’t see to read. But you just deal with it.” The crux of the issue lies in memorizing lengthy roles: “It’s difficult if I have any length of a part. I haven’t yet found a way.”

Despite the challenges with her vision, Judi Dench remains driven to work. She’s even gone so far as to get a tattoo that reads “carpe diem,” a Latin phrase meaning “seize the day.” This motto perfectly embodies Dench’s spirit, reflecting her aversion to idleness and her commitment to making the most of every opportunity.

What is your favorite film that Judi Dench has starred in?

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