The first female M turns 73 today.
Archive for Judi Dench
Is Judi Dench playing the same character in Casino Royale and the franchise reboot as she played in Pierce Brosnan’s films? True, she played M in all five, but M is a job title. Is she the same person?
In Brosnan’s films, she was a “bean counter” who was promoted into the position of M (code name for the head of MI6) just prior to the post-title opening of GoldenEye. Bond distrusted her because she didn’t have an MI6 background. She says
You don’t like me, Bond. You don’t like my methods. You think I’m an accountant, a bean counter who’s more interested in my numbers than your instincts.
She also specifically dislikes Bond because he’s a “relic of the Cold War.”
In Casino Royale, M has a very different attitude:
In the old days if an agent did something that embarrassing he’d have a good sense to defect. Christ, I miss the Cold War.
It’s counter-intuitive to think that the same actress is playing the same character as two different people in different movies, but I think that’s the case. In interviews, Martin Campbell acknowledged that it didn’t make sense to have Bond “meet the new boss” in GoldenEye, and then be promoted by that boss in Casino Royale. But Dame Judi was just too good to let go of. The writing for M in CR took no account of the M in the past four movies; she’s tougher and more military.
It’s a unique situation in the Bond films, and an interesting one. Thank goodness it’s Dame Judi bringing her gifts to these complex characters!