It's no secret that we're fond of old British people here, whether it's the red-hot "Red" star Helen Mirren or the icy-cool brilliant Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." But the upcoming piece of summer counter-programming known as "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is an absolute Anglophile's delight.
Based on the 2004 novel "These Foolish Things" by Deborah Moggach, the film revolves around a group of retirees attracted to the newly refurbished Marigold Hotel in India. When they arrive, things are not as idyllic as they imagined.
Already a major hit overseas, "Marigold" has an all-star cast led by Dame Judi Dench, who reteams with director John Madden after he helped earn her Oscar gold with "Shakespeare In Love." But she's going to have to wait in line with four other amazing Brits for her senior citizen discount.
5. Penelope Wilton
You might recognize this 65-year-old for her outstanding work as Matthew Crawley's mum on breakout hit show "Downton Abbey," but we'll always remember Wilton as the zombiefied mother of Simon Pegg in the cult comedy "Shaun of the Dead." "They're coming to get you, Barbara!" She stars as Jean, the wife of Bill Nighy in "Marigold," whose wife she also played in "Shaun." Guess there really is life after undeath.
4. Tom Wilkinson
Though he's been a veteran of British television since the '80s, Wilkinson didn't gain widespread exposure until he bared all in 1997's "The Full Monty." Since then he's juggled the Britertainment with mainstream Hollywood fare, pulling off a better-than-decent American accent as Batman's nemesis ("Batman Begins") and Jim Carrey's doctor ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), even scoring a Golden Globe as one of the fathers of our country, Benjamin Franklin ("John Adams"). In "Marigold" he plays Graham, a high-court judge who spent his first 18 years in India.
3. Bill Nighy
Though well known in his native England in various stage roles for the National Theatre, Nighy became an international treasure as the Robert Palmer-esque rocker in "Love Actually." He's gone on to conquer the "Underworld," "Harry Potter" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises with memorable eccentrics like the latter's squiddie CGI creation Davy Jones. After 39 years of marriage to Penelope Wilton's Jean in "Marigold," he finds himself attracted to Dench's character, which leads to some serious rows.
2. Maggie Smith
Comeback? She never left. After over half a century in the biz, this living legend is hotter than ever, soaking up acclaim as Countess Violet Crawley, another member of the "Downton Abbey" aristocracy, right after finishing all eight "Harry Potter" films as the dependable Professor Minerva McGonagall. At age 77 she is the only actor to receive two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, two Emmy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, two SAG Awards and a Tony Award. She plays Muriel, a grumpy resident of the "Marigold Hotel" who's only in India to get a quick hip replacement but gets more than she bargained for.
1. Judi Dench
Sure, she's possibly the most beloved English film, stage and television actress of her generation; but ask any James Bond fan and they'll tell you she's 007's higher-up, the enigmatic "M," in the series' last 7 films. You've gotta be one tough cookie to boss Bond around, and at 77 Dench hasn't lost any of her spark. Though her forte is theater, with seven Laurence Olivier Awards and a Tony under her belt, she regularly classes up already class affairs like "Mrs. Brown," "Chocolat," "Iris" and "Jane Eyre." As the lead in "Marigold" she plays Evelyn, a freshly widowed woman who moves to the title home for the "elderly and beautiful" and keeps a daily blog of her encounters.