The British Independent Film Awards is delighted to announce today that Dame Judi Dench will be this year’s recipient of the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film, in recognition of her distinguished career in the UK and advocacy of the British film industry across the globe. The award will be presented to her at the 2018 awards ceremony to be held at Old Billingsgate Market on Sunday 2nd December.
Now in its seventeenth year, the Richard Harris Award has previously been bestowed upon Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julie Walters, John Hurt, Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent, Alison Steadman, Bob Hoskins and, in 2017, Vanessa Redgrave. The award honours an actor or actress who has contributed significantly to British films throughout their career.
Jared Harris, in whose father’s memory the award is granted, commented: “Dangerous on stage, on screen and apparently behind the wheel of a car, Dame Judi Dench and Richard Harris have a lot in common! We are delighted that she has agreed to accept this award. Dame Judi has stolen every scene she has ever been in, and stolen our hearts along the way. Although she hates being called a national treasure and prefers to be thought of as a jobbing actor, she is undeniably both the standard bearer and the gold standard for British Actors.”
Dame Judi said: “It has been my absolute privilege to spend almost 60 years working in the British film industry, one of the most vibrant and creative homes for filmmakers in the world. To be recognised with this award, which bears the name of the great Richard Harris and counts some of my favourite actors and actresses amongst its past recipients is a source of deep pride and a very special honour.”
In a diverse career that has drawn widespread critical and popular admiration, Dame Judi has captivated audiences with a range of classical and contemporary roles across both stage and screen. In recognition of her many achievements she received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1970, became a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 1988, and in 2005 was awarded a Companion of Honour. Her performances have garnered her an Academy Award, ten BAFTA awards, and a record eight Laurence Olivier Awards. Dame Judi’s career in film has successfully traversed the entire landscape of cinema, from acclaimed performances in British independent hits A Room With a View, Notes On a Scandal (for which she won the Best Actress BIFA), Philomena and Iris to her legendary role as M in seven James Bond films from Goldeneye to Skyfall. Her global reputation has been cemented with further lauded roles in the hugely successful India-set comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and its sequel, both directed by John Madden; Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, opposite Dustin Hoffman; and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, directed by Tim Burton.
Dame Judi is also revered for her television work. Most recently she starred as Cecily, Duchess of York, in The Hollow Crown for the BBC, and past credits include: The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, for which she received BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award nomination; the long-running hit BBC sitcom As Time Goes By; and the critically acclaimed Cranford series, for which she received a number of major award nominations.
Dame Judi’s celebrated career on stage has mirrored her achievements on screen, from her most recent, Olivier award-winning role in Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale, to The Vote, directed by Josie Rourke, which was also broadcast live on UK General Election night in a landmark television event. She has regularly collaborated with the leading theatre directors of her era, including Sir Peter Hall (The Royal Family, Hay Fever), Michael Grandage (Peter and Alice, Madame de Sade) and Sir Richard Eyre (Amy’s View).
Following last year’s roles in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express and Victoria & Abdul, directed by Stephen Frears, Dame Judi recently wrapped production on Disney’s Artemis Fowl, directed by Kenneth Branagh, and will soon be seen in feature film Red Joan, directed by Trevor Nunn.
The 2018 BIFA awards ceremony takes place on Sunday 2nd December at Old Billingsgate, marking the 21st anniversary of the awards.