With “Victoria and Abdul,” Dame Judi Dench is once again squarely in the Oscar race for Best Actress. Stephen Frears‘ biographical drama focuses on Queen Victoria’s (Dench) friendship with a young Indian clerk (Ali Fazal) during the last years of her life. Interestingly enough, Dench reaped her very first Academy Award bid for portraying the monarch 20 years ago in John Madden‘s “Mrs. Brown” (1997). Should she be nominated, she would join an elite group of actors who were recognized multiple times for the same role. In recognition of her (yet-to-be-determined) achievement, let’s take a look back at the six performers who have previously pulled off this rare feat in our new photo gallery.
The first person to do so was Bing Crosby, who won Best Actor for playing a young priest taking over a struggling parish in Leo McCarey’s “Going My Way” (1944). Interestingly enough, he beat out his co-star Barry Fitzgerald, who also contended in and won Best Supporting Actor in what was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence at the Academy Awards (rules were implemented the following year to prohibited such a thing from happening again; therefore, we have not included Fitzgerald in this gallery since it was only film and not two). The very next year Crosby competed in Best Actor yet again for reprising the role of Father Chuck O’Malley in McCarey’s followup “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” yet lost to Ray Milland in “The Lost Weekend.”
Sylvester Stallone is the latest actor to reap two nominations for the same character, and the only to go from lead to supporting. In 1976, Stallone wrote his way to a Best Actor nomination for playing Rocky Balboa in John G. Avildsen’s boxing drama “Rocky,” scoring an Original Screenplay bid as well. Although the film won Best Picture, he lost both prizes to Peter Finch (“Network”) and Paddy Chayefsky (“Network”) respectively. 39 years and five sequels later, Stallone returned to the Oscar race with “Creed” (2015), which finds the aging pugilist coaching the son (Michael B. Jordan) of his former rival Apollo Creed. Despite winning the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards, he lost at the Academy Awards to Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”).
Can Dench be the latest to join this unique field? She certainly has a lot of Academy support back her up. Following her Best Actress nomination for “Mrs. Brown,” Dench won Best Supporting Actress for playing Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998). She had competed five additional times (Supporting for “Chocolat” in 2000; Lead for “Iris” in 2001, “Mrs. Henderson Presents” in 2004, “Notes on a Scandal” in 2006, and “Philomena” in 2013). She could also be contending for her supporting performance in Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” in which she plays Princess Dragomiroff.
Click through our photo gallery above to find out all six actors who have been nominated twice at the Oscars for playing the same character.
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