For such an acclaimed movie actress, Dame Judi Dench was a relative latecomer to film. From her acting debut in 1956 through the mid-1990s, she was known primarily for her work on the British stage. It was her role as the mysterious intelligence head M in a string of James Bond films (1995’s GoldenEye through 2012’s Skyfall) that made hers a familiar face to moviegoers. Meanwhile, moviemakers realized that, in theater speak, there is nothin’ like a dame: Dench’s single Oscar, for Shakespeare in Love, belies a mile-long list of industry accolades. Now Dench is sharing in the success of a more modest franchise, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, whose sequel is on a big screen near you. Follow the great dame in our photo gallery.