Is there anyone who isn’t completely under the spell cast by Dame Judi Dench? The master thespian has been worshipped by moviegoers and awards voters alike for many indelible performances such as her Oscar-winning turn as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, the predatory closeted lesbian schoolteacher Barbara in Notes on a Scandal and seven outings as M in the 007 franchise. Now Dench’s vivid performance in Philomena, a real-life tale about an Irish woman searching for the son taken from her by nuns five decades earlier, not only will likely garner her yet another Academy Award nomination for best actress, it’s helped turn the comedy-drama into a surprise international box office hit.
Deadline reports Philomena is headed toward a remarkable $45 million gross, thanks to exceptional reviews and Dench’s Golden Globe-nominated performance, which moves gracefully between high comedy and heart-tugging poignancy. After a month in release, the film is still playing to near-capacity crowds who applaud when the credits roll. In case you need more persuasion to see the film, watch Dench in a pivotal scene here.
If you need another reason to love this lady, be aware that she can be very cheeky — literally. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Dench confirms reports that she once had her friend Harvey Weinstein’s name temporarily tattooed on her bottom and flashed Philomena’s super-producer, to whom she attributes much of her success as a film star, at the Four Seasons hotel to prove it. She laughs as she recounts the incident:
I’m so glad that that’s universal news, I’m really glad. I once said to him, “I have your named tattooed on my bum.” He laughed and was, well, quite embarrassed, actually. It’s quite difficult to embarrass Harvey, but I did! And then, we went out to lunch, to the Four Seasons. Charlie Rose was there and I think my agent was there. Beforehand, I got my makeup lady to actually write Harvey’s name. [laughs] Then I brought it up at lunch and said, “You know, I do have it on my bum” — and then I actually got up and showed him! I’ve never seen a man more embarrassed and I’ve never let him forget it. [laughs] Perhaps I should have it done and really shock him!