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Judi Dench checks into ‘Exotic Marigold Hotel’

By Susan Wloszczyna, USA TODAY The first time Judi Dench worked with director John Madden, she earned an Oscar nomination as Queen Victoria in 1997’s Mrs. Brown. Their collaboration proved so gratifying that the actress recalls telling him, “If you need someone to stroll across in the background in your next film, please call me.” He took her at her word, and Dench’s “stroll” was good enough to win a supporting Oscar for her brief yet indelible portrait of Queen Elizabeth I in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love. Now Madden, 62, and this grande dame, 76, have made it a trilogy with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which opens March 9 and whose trailer premieres Sept. 16. STORY: India, Patel show their stuff The travelogue with abundant humor is a contemporary fable about a group of British retirees lured to a supposedly luxury retirement home in India. Though the ensemble includes Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith as well as Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel, Dench proves she still rules. “Judi is the key to the whole thing,” Madden says. “She is playing a character very different from the sort of roles we are used to seeing.” Instead of being authoritative and controlling, he says, her Evelyn is “a very ordinary woman, a widow who has been thrust into a shocking circumstances after her husband dies and leaves her destitute.” For Dench, the shoot in India was like “old home week” because she has worked with her co-stars before, including Penelope Wilton (TV’s Downton Abbey) and Celia Imrie (the Bridget Jones series). “We did behave ourselves quite well,” Dench says. “John Madden kept us in order.” http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/story/2011-08-28/Judi-Dench-checks-into-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel/50168868/1?loc=interstitialskip India, Dev Patel get flashy roles in ‘Hotel’ By Susan Wloszczyna, USA TODAY For Judi Dench, one of the joys of making The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was the opportunity to visit India, where the story’s seven British retirees seek a reasonably priced paradise in which to live out their golden years. “E.M. Forster said anyone who has ever been to India will never be the same afterward,” she says of the 9½ weeks spent on location in Udaipur and Jaipur in Rajasthan. “It was my first time but I hope not the last. I kept a diary for the first time. Even if no one reads it, I should at some point.” From the elephants that would occasionally materialize on the set to the swarm of humanity in the streets, the actress says, she was enthralled by the place. “It is teeming with people of every kind of color. Such beautiful people. Wonderful-looking young men. I was bewitched.” The movie was also director John Madden’s introduction to the country. “The crews are great, obviously. They have a very vibrant film culture, and Bollywood is a massive industry that competes with Hollywood.” Locales were sought beyond the typical tourist spots, he says. “We wanted to film in real places, to get inside the fabric of it. The middle of the muddle.” Probably the hardest part to cast was that of the hotel itself. “It is such a central character, much like the theater in Shakespeare in Love,” Madden says. What they found was a tribal chieftain’s palace in a village about 50 miles outside of Jaipur. “It was built with facades that flattered the status and wealth of its makers. It’s a mirage in the middle of the countryside.” Dench and Madden share a tendency to gush when it comes to the Indian star who plays the operator of the hotel: Dev Patel, the 21-year-old Slumdog Millionaire discovery who has yet to find a worthy follow-up to that best-picture Oscar winner. Until now, it seems. “Oh, gosh, what a divine young man,” Dench raves. “He is a dynamo, too, very funny.” The London-raised Patel perfected an Indian-English accent to play Sonny Kapoor, described by Madden as “a hapless young man who believes he can make a success out of a crumbling hotel by, as he calls it, outsourcing old age.” So, did the youngster keep up with his more experienced castmates? Indeed, says Madden. “This movie reveals a side of him not seen before. He is a gifted comic actor and a physical clown. The ladies were in awe of what he could do. He is the engine of the film.” http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/story/2011-08-28/India-Dev-Patel-get-flashy-roles-in-Hotel/50166504/1