One of the more surprising films in Dame Judi Dench's varied filmography is the 2004 sci-fi adventure The Chronicles of Riddick. Playing Aereon, a prophet in the cult classic sci-fi sequel, that puts into motion Vin Diesel's fate as a hero and then leader of the Riddick universe, folks may not have expected such a part to be played by a woman who won an Oscar for Shakespeare In Love. And yet, she agreed to such a proposition, after a simple gesture of fandom, courtesy of Riddick himself Vin Diesel. Dench explained this process, as follows:
Vin sent me a bouquet of flowers that were so big they couldn't fit up the stairs to my dressing room. They could not get them into the corridor. Then he asked if I would be in his film. And of course I said yes. Why ever not?
Considering what even the smallest of theater corridors measures out to be, that bouquet had to have been a proper monster to have not been able to fit into the Haymarket Theater. Dame Judi Dench was performing at that theater when Diesel made his offer for her to be in the sequel to Pitch Black, and while it may be a moderate to small sized theater when compared to some of the bigger houses, you still have to wonder just how big these flowers were exactly. Then again, there's a chance that the bouquet was hand picked by Vin Diesel himself, which means that whatever looked like a modest arrangement to him may have turned out to be a rather gargantuan assortment upon delivery.
Revealing this fun story to EW, Dench reminded us of two things: yes, she was in that Riddick movie we need to re-acquaint ourselves with, and that her career is more diverse than a lot of people might remember. While most remember her either as M in the James Bond films or from her role in the long-running British TV show, As Time Goes By, there are a couple of other roles that Dame Judi Dench has taken that most folks wouldn't think of. Roles like the talking cow Mrs. Caloway in Disney's Home on the Range, or Miss Avocet, or even a caretaker in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. When taking roles such as those into account, it only further highlights how awesome it was that Dench was given the role of Aereon is pretty spectacular.
Then again, most recent history has seen Dame Judi rapping alongside Lethal Bizzle, so there isn't really all that much left that could surprise her fans. Live this joyous moment for yourself, in the video below.
For those of you more used to the Dame Judi Dench showcased in traditional costume dramas, you'll be able to enjoy her in Victoria & Abdul, which is in exclusive NY engagements right now, but will roll out in limited release over time. Though don't be surprised if Vin tries to draft Dame Judi in for his Furia, the next proposed adventure in the Riddick canon.