Yes, Dame Judi Dench Has Totally Played Queen Victoria Before

If Dame Judi Dench's latest role seems a bit familiar, there's good reason. Dench stars in the new movie Victoria and Abdul, which is based on a true story about the unlikely bond between England's Queen Victoria and an Indian servant who became one of her closest advisers. But Dench already had some practice with this particular monarch: she also played Queen Victoria in the 1997 film Mrs. Brown, for which she snagged both an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win.

Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown. Image Source: Everett Collection

Judi Dench with costar Ali Fazal in Victoria and Abdul. Image Source: Everett Collection

While the film itself has been subject to some mixed reviews, there's been almost unanimous praise for Dench's stunning performance in the starring role. And if she garners an Oscar nomination, she'll join an exclusive club: only six other actors in history have earned nods from the Academy more than once for playing the same character. They are:

  • Sylvester Stallone, who was nominated for playing Rocky Balboa in 1976's Rocky and 2015's Creed
  • Cate Blanchett, who was nominated for playing Queen Elizabeth I in 1998's Elizabeth and 2007's The Golden Age
  • Paul Newman, who was nominated for playing "Fast Eddie" Felson in 1961's The Hustler and 1986's The Color of Money, the latter of which he won
  • Al Pacino, who was nominated for playing Michael Corleone in 1972's The Godfather and 1974's The Godfather: Part II
  • Peter O'Toole, who was nominated for playing King Henry II in 1964's Becket and 1968's The Lion in Winter
  • Bing Crosby, who was nominated for playing Father Chuck O'Malley in 1944's Going My Way and 1945's The Bells of Saint Mary's, the former of which he won

Also fun to note: Blanchett and Dench could become the only two people nominated for playing the same queen twice, should Dench have Oscar luck this year.