As she rocks pink hair, bold dresses and “bad-ass” make-up, Helen Mirren is as fashionable and sophisticated as ever.
These days, the word “influencer” gets bandied around a lot, a catch-all term for anyone trying to get noticed on social media. But if you want to see a real influencer, take one look at Helen Mirren, who at 77 has more fashion- and beauty-industry clout than most young Insta stars could ever dream of. Sitting across from me via a screen – Helen is in Cannes, I’m in London – wearing a slim-cut, round-neck green dress with her hair slicked back in a modern ponytail, she looks every inch an idol. The actor has the sort of presence and confidence that is alluring in anyone, whether 17 or 70.
Yet she is a charmingly un-grandiose interviewee, making relaxed chit-chat. Her well-trained eye immediately zones in on my cheesecloth blouse: she squints and asks if it’s vintage (it is). She talks about the “very hot” weather in Cannes, and asks whether it’s sunny in London as if we’re old friends.
We’re speaking the day before a red-carpet appearance. Helen tells me she’ll be wearing a sparkly Jenny Packham gown and no, she hasn’t thought about how she’ll wear her hair or make-up yet. (As it turned out, she had hair extensions put in to create an XXL half-ponytail.)
Helen is as chic as she is charming. Her irreverent style and “so what?” attitude to beauty are so appealing in this cookie-cutter world. A regular on the red carpet and the awards circuit, her fashion choices get braver and bolder every year, making her a frequent feature on best-dressed lists, too.
Whether she’s in a pretty floral dress toughened up with Russell & Bromley biker boots, as seen on The Graham Norton Show earlier this year, the waist-cinching sugary-pink Dolce & Gabbana dress she wore to collect her Lifetime Achievement prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, or the bright-yellow frock she sported at Cannes last year, her approach is never timid. And Helen, an ambassador for L’Oréal Paris (that’s her, below, walking in their 2019 show), is also up for adventure when it comes to beauty, trying pink hair, “bad-ass” eye make-up and everything in between.
So who better to discuss her past red-carpet looks than Helen herself? With some pictures to hand, she talks me through some of the more interesting from recent years, and the seven lessons in beauty and style that make her an inspiration to women of all ages.
Read the full article/interview in our press library.
Three clippings featuring Helen Mirren from July 2022 magazines.
Radio Times dedicated a cover to Dame Helen Mirren with an exclusive interview she released. Enjoy the HQ Digital Scans from it.
Here’s your first look at the new Comic-Con trailer of Shazam featuring Helen Mirren.
Last week Helen Mirren and her husband, Taylor Hackford, were in Sicily for the D&G Fashion Show. There are very few photos around and I collected what I could, enjoy!
The first official trailer for “White Bird: A Wonder Story” has come out, featuring Helen Mirren. Also the first photo came out via People Magazine.
Paramount+ launched its service in UK last night and ‘1932’ stars Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford, appeared in remote to the event.
If Helen Mirren were to steal a painting from the National Gallery in London, it would be a Wassily Kandinsky. “I love Kandinsky,” she says of the Russian painter, known as the father of 20th-century abstraction, although if you strolled through a gallery of his work, you might never know it’s all from the same man’s brush. Among his oeuvre, you’ll find art that incorporates impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, Art Nouveau and Bauhaus.
Similarly, the many, many facets of Dame Helen were showcased in the spliced compilation reel shown at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards before she collected her Lifetime Achievement Award in February: Shakespearean thespian in Antony and Cleopatra and Hamlet; drunk and gruff Detective Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect; regal as Queen Elizabeth I and II; a fully naked Caesonia in the 1979 Penthouse-funded erotic film Caligula; campy criminal mastermind Magdalene Shaw in the even campier Fast & Furious franchise, movies seven through nine; and, in The Duke, her new film that opens this spring, a frumpy and sour-faced wife who discovers her husband is hiding a stolen painting by Mirren’s second choice of artist to loot, Francisco de Goya.
The Duke is based on the true story about a disabled British pensioner, Kempton Bunton, who is incensed to learn his government paid millions to keep de Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington, a Tory prime minister and war hero, from being sold to an American collector. Nineteen days after its display at the National Gallery in 1961, the masterpiece disappeared. Was it the cunning work of an heist expert? Or the accidental misadventures of a good-hearted, working-class retiree on a crusade for free TV licences for seniors?
“You couldn’t sell this story if it were a work of fiction,” says actor Jim Broadbent, who plays Bunton in The Duke. Portions of Bunton’s sensational trial — no spoilers! — were used verbatim, delivered in perfect Newcastle accents. Since Mirren’s ever faithful to her real-life characters, she required a serious make-under for her turn as Bunton’s wife, Dorothy. “When I first saw her in her wig and costume, it made me laugh,” he admits during a Zoom press conference from London, where they’re promoting The Duke. “She’s always been a glorious and glamorous actress. You see past the cardigan and her inner beauty comes shining through.”
Okay, okay, we get it: At 76, Mirren is beautiful, inside and out. She’s aging like a badass, no eternal youth serum required, and she looks better in a red swimsuit than all of us. So I’m not sure what — or who — to expect when Mirren appears on screen, but, obviously, she looks way better than I do on today’s video call, where I’m regretting wearing my sartorial choice of glasses and ponytail (in my defence, it’s 8 a.m. in Toronto, and the glasses are Chloé, a small saving grace). Mirren, meanwhile, may as well have walked directly off a red carpet in a parakeet-green pleated silk dress from ME+EM with a Jane Taylor headband that sparkles like an actual crown. I’m certain she’s long sick of questions of the “how do you possibly look so good?” variety, though truthfully it’s the first thing that pops to mind.
That said, it could be worse, and not too long ago, it really was. In 1975, during Mirren’s very first talk show appearance, U.K. journalist Michael Parkinson introduced Mirren as the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “sex queen,” known for “projecting sluttish eroticism.” Parkinson then asked if her “equipment” hinders her pursuits as a “serious actress” (he indeed uses air quotes). “You mean my fingers?” she asks, though she’d surely rather have shown him the middle one. Mirren kept her impressive composure for 36 long years, when, in a 2011 interview with The Telegraph, she publicly called him a “sexist old fart.”
Vowing to be nothing like Parkinson, I toss the Dame a curveball in a follow-up email: “What question does nobody ever ask that you really wish they would?” In an audio file she sent in reply, Mirren mulls a minute and then answers, kind of. “My favourite interview would be one with no questions at all, quite honestly,” she says. “One where you just sit down and have a conversation about gardening or sewing. I love sewing.”
Sewing? It’s suddenly very clear to me that I don’t actually know anything about Helen Mirren. This feels deliberate. “It’s a mistake to confuse the actress with the person on the red carpet,” she cautions, with no mention at all of the real person behind the actress. I think of how much I know, with nary a Google search, about the actresses of my generation, like Jennifer Lawrence (new baby!), Lena Dunham (endometriosis) and Drew Barrymore (thrice divorced and too nervous to date). Each of them is a friendly open book, bless their hearts, but they are forever fated to play slightly different versions of themselves.
For details on Mirren, you have to dig into her 2008 biography, In the Frame. Descended from Russian aristocrats exiled to England during the Bolshevik Revolution, the formerly rich Mironov family started over in London’s East End and soon Anglicized their last name to Mirren. Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov entered this world with top honours — the middle child of three was born in just 20 minutes, the fastest birth on record at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital. When she turned three, the family moved to the more affordable Essex County, although they still couldn’t afford a car, central heating, a washing machine or a refrigerator. Needless to say, there was no TV, so the family visited art galleries for a free dose of art and culture.
I added digital scans of Helen Mirren’s cover for Gala Croisette, Cannes Film Festival magazine. Enjoy!