Judi Dench Shares The Surprising Story Behind Her Name

One of Britain’s most-loved actors Dame Judi Dench — of Shakespeare in Love, Philomena, Chocolat, and many more movies — has revealed the surprising story behind her name. And it’s not what you think. 

Speaking to The Guardian in January 2021, the Oscar-winning star, who was born in December 1934, admitted that not only does she not like her name, but that it wasn’t actually chosen by her parents — it was chosen by a medium (yes, really). 

“A very strange thing happened at the time that I was born,” she explained to the publication. “My father was a doctor, my mother was from Dublin, and they lived in York. There was a famous medium. My father met her a day after I was born. She said to him, ‘I’m very pleased to hear about Judith.’ My parents had no idea what I would be called and so I was called Judith which — fortunately — now I’m never called.”

Keep reading to hear more about how Dench feels about the name.

Dame Judi Dench is set to play an eccentric medium in a new movie

But according to Judy Dench, apparently using mediums to guide and make important life decisions was once actually kind of a common thing to do. “There was great belief in the 1930s in mediums,” she told The Guardian, seemingly defending her parents decision about her name. “I think it’s difficult for us to say that there is nothing,” she added, “There is a huge world that we don’t know about. I implicitly believe that, because all sorts of things have happened to me.” 

Given the actor’s belief, she couldn’t be more perfect for her latest role as an eccentric traveling medium named Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit (via IMDb). And it seems she feels the same way. “Being asked to play Madame Arcati is kind of a dream come true,” she said in an interview recorded by the makers of the film (via Film News).

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