Celebrating the 80th birthdays of Britain’s most famous acting Dames, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith.
Updated: 30 November 2014
This December sees the birthdays of two very importance actresses.
Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench both turn 80 years old this December, and WestEndTheatre.com will be building up a collection of features on these two great West End ladies as we approach their 80th birthdays.
We suspect that both ladies will hate all of the fuss, but fuss there will be as the world celebrates their long, accomplished careers on stage and screen.
Judi Dench was born in Heworth, York on 9 December 1934 and Maggie Smith was born a few weeks later in Ilford, Essex on 28 December 1934.
Over the next few months we will focus on their stage careers, particularly their London stage work, plus their movie roles, awards and their lives.
To kick off, here’s a quick look at their current projects.
- Dame Maggie is currently filming The Lady in the Van, based on Alan Bennett’s play and directed by Nicholas Hytner. Alex Jennings, who is currently starring as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, will play Bennett, with Dame Maggie as Miss Shepherd.
- Filming has completed on the sequel to the hugely successful The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel set for a 2015 release. Maggie Smith returns to the role of Muriel Donnelly in the movie, with Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade.
- Judi Dench has completed work on Tulip Fever, which has finished filming and is now in post-production. Produced by the Weinstein Company and directed by Justin Chadwick, the film has a screenplay by Tom Stoppard, which means that Harvey Weinstein, Tom Stoppard and Judi Dench are all reuniting following the huge success of Shakespeare in Love. The cast of Tulip Fever includes Holliday Grainger, Matthew Morrison, Cara Delevingne and Cressida Bonas. Dench plays The Abbess of St. Ursula.
- Judi also filmed a TV movie version of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot earlier this year, for a Christmas run on the BBC. She plays Mrs. Silver alongside Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Hoppy.
- The fifth series of Downton Abbey, where Maggie Smith plays Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, has recently completed on ITV1 in the UK.
- Current movie My Old Lady, released in the UK on 21 November 2014, stars Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.
- A major movie and TV retrospective of Maggie Smith’s work will run at the British Film Institute on the Southbank from 2 December 2014 to 31 January 2015. Work being screened includes Shakespeare’s Othello, Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Travels with My Aunt, Murder by Death, California Suite, Quartet, A Private Function, A Room with a View, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Memento Mori, Suddenly, Last Summer, Tea with Mussolini, Gosford Park, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, My House in Umbria, Ladies in Lavender, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.