Judi Dench in ‘Skyfall’

Eye on the Oscars: The Actress - Supporting Actress Contenders

The blow when Judi Dench discovered her character would not survive was softened by the “Skyfall” storyline that almost entirely pivots around the relationship between James Bond and his steely boss M.

So did Dench approach the role differently, knowing this was her swan song?

“She is the least strategic actress I know,” says director Sam Mendes. “If there was a big plan, she would never tell you. She doesn’t articulate, she demonstrates.”

Dench broke barriers in her major film debut in “GoldenEye” (1998) as the first woman to play M. “Skyfall” is her seventh outing and marks the first time M has been the focal point.

Increased screen time allows Dench a satisfying vehicle to explore her seemingly cold character’s complexities.

Mendes, who directed Dench in three plays in the 1990s, says he provided little input because she knows the role intimately. She doesn’t pick up where she left off, he says, but rather takes M to places not seen before.

And in this film, those places are often action packed.

“She loved every second of it and couldn’t wait to get her hands on a gun,” Mendes says. “She handles herself brilliantly.”

The celebrated stage actress came to film late in her career, earning an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and landing four nominations following that. Her late husband loved her becoming a “Bond Girl.”

“She understood why time was up,” Mendes says of the decision. “She said ‘Of course she’s got to go. I’m just sad because I’ve had such a marvelous time.’ ”

| HOME | Sally Field >>

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Lindsay Lindenbaum on 'Tomboy,' Female Drummers,

    How 'Tomboy' Filmmaker Used SXSW Cancellation to Fine-Tune Her Film

    “Tomboy” filmmaker Lindsay Lindenbaum spent five years following four female drummers trying to make it in a male-dominated world. Lindenbaum profiles Bobbye Hall, a drummer who started at Motown Records in the late ’60s and later toured with Bob Dylan. Samantha Maloney, whose obsession with MTV’s “Headbangers Ball” as a teenager led her to fall [...]

  • Wonder Woman 1984

    Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Wipe Out All of Summer Blockbuster Season?

    Say goodbye to blockbuster season — at least for this year. After would-be summer hits from Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal already vacated their release dates, Sony Pictures announced Monday that its comic book adventure “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and virtually all of its upcoming tentpoles were being moved into the fall or beyond. It was [...]

  • Dodgers Stadium Empty

    Movie Theaters and Concerts Could See Major Attendance Drop Post-Pandemic (Study)

    After a month of increasing anxiety and self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, audiences in the U.S. are largely not eager to return to public events once the crisis subsides, according to a new study. In a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S., 44% of respondents said they would attend fewer large public events, [...]

  • 'Dolphin Reef' Review: A Dazzling Look

    'Dolphin Reef' on Disney Plus: Film Review

    Out of the vast universe of nature documentaries, I don’t think I’m alone in finding films about life under the sea to occupy a special place. The very fact that they exist, of course, is amazing — though when you watch one, part of the wonder is that you’re not thinking about how aquamarine filmmakers [...]

  • CONJURING DAD – In Disney and

    What's Coming to Disney Plus in April 2020

    Disney Plus will continue to expand its library next month, adding older films as well as new episodes of its original programming. Less than a month after its release on March 6, Pixar’s “Onward” is making an early jump to Disney’s streaming platform amid the coronavirus pandemic. With the vast majority of theaters now closed [...]

  • Black AF Netflix

    Everything Coming to Netflix in April

    As everyone continues to self-quarantine and practice social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no better “at-home” activity than catching up on all the new films and shows streaming on Netflix this April. A number of new series are set to premiere on the streaming platform, including “Never Have I Ever,” “#BlackAf,” “OuterBanks,” “The [...]

  • Steven Spielberg AFI Movie Club

    Steven Spielberg Launches AFI's New Movie Club With 'The Wizard of Oz'

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate and Americans face more time in quarantine, “There’s no place like home” resonates in an entirely different way, with the power to save millions – not just Dorothy. Aiming to encourage social distancing, the American Film Institute announced the launch of the AFI Movie Club with the help [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content