The legendary British actress reflects on her humble beginnings in London, becoming an American citizen and why she appreciates and encourages the debate about authenticity in casting sparked by her upcoming role as Golda Meir: “It’s a healthy discussion to have.”
It took the better part of two months to schedule an interview with Helen Mirren, the inaugural film star in the THR Icon series. Blame her punishing work schedule — the 76-year-old Oscar winner is coming off back-to-back-to-back productions, ranging from the British dramedy The Duke to F9: The Fast Saga (her third turn in the Fast & Furious franchise) to Shazam! Fury of the Gods, her first superhero movie, in which she plays the villain Hespera. When we finally nail down a time to talk, Mirren — speaking via video link from Italy in a home she shares with her husband, Oscar-winning American director-producer Taylor Hackford — has just finished shooting Guy Nattiv’s Golda, in which she plays Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
An Oscar, Emmy, Tony and BAFTA Award winner, Mirren has had the equivalent of four or five ordinary careers. She was the youngest actress to be accepted into the Royal Shakespeare Company and helped lead the 1980s and 1990s revival of British cinema with roles in John Mackenzie’s The Long Good Friday (1980), Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) and Nicholas Hytner’s The Madness of King George (1994) — the latter securing Mirren her first of four Oscar nominations. Her primetime depiction of police detective Jane Tennison on ITV’s long-running Prime Suspect, a role that garnered Mirren six Emmy nominations and two trophies, was groundbreaking, and in the 2000s, following her performances in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park in 2001 (also Oscar-nominated) and her Oscar-winning turn as Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), Mirren was finally elevated to “national treasure” status in Britain.
Then, well into her 60s, Mirren became an action movie star, first as an assassin lured out of retirement by Bruce Willis in RED and RED 2, then as Jason Statham’s East End gangster mum, Queenie, in the Fast & Furious films.
On Feb. 27, SAG-AFTRA will honor the actress with its highest tribute: the SAG Life Achievement Award for career and humanitarian accomplishments.
Endlessly curious, phenomenally talented and endowed with a work ethic that would shame a 20-something, Dame Helen Mirren has survived, thrived and transformed through six decades of a matchless career while still remaining indelibly herself.
Read the full article/interview in our press library.