I can hardly believe that it is more than half a century since I first stepped on to the stage of the Old Vic Theatre and into a way of life that has brought me the most rewarding professional relationships and friendships. I cannot imagine now ever doing anything else with my life except acting....
From London's glittering West End to Broadway's bright lights, from her Academy Award-winning role as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love to M in the James Bond films, Judi Dench has treated audiences to some of the greatest performances of our time.
She made her professional acting debut in 1957 with England's Old Vic theatre company playing Ophelia in Hamlet, Katherine in Henry V (her New York debut), and then Juliet. In 1961, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Anya in The Cherry Orchard with John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft. In 1968, she went beyond the classical stage to become a sensation as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, adding musical comedy to her repertoire.
Over the years, Dench has given indelible performances in the classics as well as some of the greatest plays and musicals of the 20th century, including Noël Coward's Hay Fever, Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, Kaufman and Hart's The Royal Family, and David Hare's Amy's View (for which she won the Tony Award). Recently, she made a triumphant return to A Midsummer Night's Dream as Titania, a role she first played in 1962, now played as a theatre-besotted Queen Elizabeth I.