In 1997, Judi Dench went from obscure American notoriety as M to Pierce Brosnan‘s James Bond to her first Oscar nomination as Queen Victoria in the under-seen yet powerful Mrs. Brown. Now, 20 years later, she plays Queen Victoria again during her final years in the dramatic charmer Victoria & Abdul.
The similarities to Mrs. Brown are striking, namely that both films center around the Queen’s unlikely friendship with a servant. First, it was the Scotsman John Brown; now it’s an Indian clerk named Abdul. Man, Vicky got around.
The directors, however, are different. John Madden guided Dench in Mrs. Brown (before leading her to her Oscar win in Shakespeare in Love). Here it’s Stephen Frears. He’s familiar with both royal character studies (The Queen) and Judi Dench (Philomena).
Don’t be surprised if the Dame ends up with her 8th Academy Award nomination.
Written by Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall and co-starring Ali Fazal, Adeel Akhtar, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Simon Callow, and Olivia Williams, Victoria & Abdul opens in select cities on September 22, 2017, and expands on September 29.
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