Why Helen Mirren Decided to “Throw Away” Her Future and Embrace the Unknown

Julie Miller

February 6, 2018

Article taken from Vanity Fair.

The Oscar winner told a charming anecdote about an early encounter with a fortune teller at Monday’s AARP Movies for Grownups Awards.

On Monday evening, only hours after the Oscar nominees luncheon, Gary OldmanGreta GerwigSaoirse RonanWillem DafoeGuillermo del Toro and Laurie Metcalf trekked less than a mile east on Wilshire Boulevard to attend the annual Movies for Grownups Awards, hosted by the AARP. Yes, that AARP—which meant that the event’s start time was 6 P.M., the guest of honor was Helen Mirren, and the dress code was sensible footwear—all positive points in our book.
Because Mirren was stationed front and center of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel ballroom, every person who took the stage was bound by unspoken Hollywood contract to pay homage to the queen—who was there to accept a career-achievement award. Molly’s Game filmmaker, Aaron Sorkin, interrupted his acceptance speech to note that the Tony-, Oscar-, and Emmy-winning actress was less than 20 feet from him. Presenter Blythe Danner couldn’t help but go off script, revealing how “flabbergasted” she was the first time she saw Mirren in action. Curtsying, she said, “Thank you for your grace and talent and power.”

“Dame Helen Mirren, it is such a joy to just be in the room with you. I saw you as Nina in The Seagull in 1975 or 1976. I fell in love with you,” he said, adding with a devilish grin, “and your acting. I was a shy 14-year-old. I’ve been in love with you and your wonderful work ever since.”
When Mirren finally made her way to the stage, she began with a statement that might as well be awards season’s motto: “We don’t want to be vain and self-regarding, but it’s so nice to be flattered.”

Mirren then shared a memory from her early twenties—“when I was feeling insecure about myself and my future, and thinking nothing would ever happen to me, and my dreams wouldn’t come true. I wanted desperately to be an actress. In despair and confusion, I went to a palm reader . . . and it cost me a fiver.”

The palm reader gave Mirren a pad of paper and a pencil, and said that he would read her palm—but told her he would speak so quickly, and at such length, that she should scribble down his prediction to read it later.
“He was right . . . I left with this huge sheaf of papers, and I couldn’t remember anything. And there was my future—in this pile of papers.”Mirren said that, upon exiting, she looked at the pile—then promptly walked to a garbage bin down the street and “threw the knowledge of my future away.”

“Life keeps surprising us . . . that’s what makes it so rich with possibility,” said Mirren. “It wouldn’t be worth living . . . just a giant to-do list waiting to be crossed off . . .[But] nothing is written . . . everything is up for grabs.”

Though Monday evening marked yet another ballroom awards show in a season already dripping with them—the Golden Globes, the SAGs, the P.G.A.s, the D.G.A.s—the AARP event celebrated mostly dark-horse contenders. (Its top winner? Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which took home the coveted title of “best movie for grown-ups.”)

While accepting the best-screenwriter honor, Sorkin shared an amusing anecdote from several years back, when the filmmaker had been snubbed for an Oscar nomination by the Academy. Sorkin’s father attempted to cheer him up after the announcement by telling him, “How many people woke up with even a reasonable expectation to get an Oscar nomination?”

Said Sorkin, “That’s when I realized: for most people, it’s an honor to be nominated. In my family, it’s even an honor to be overlooked.”

When Metcalf accepted her supporting-actress statuette, she called Lady Bird “a beautiful reminder that we can’t let what we want for another get in the way of our love for them.”

Supporting-actor winner, Richard Jenkins, earned a standing ovation, after which he joked, “Is it because I’m the oldest one here?”

“I want to thank AARP, and I especially want to thank Sam Rockwell,for being too young to win this,” Jenkins deadpanned, citing his heavily decorated category competitor.

While the Movies for Grownups Awards may not seem like the hottest ticket of the season, Hollywood has proven that as long as there is an awards show, there will be people eager to attend. Monday evening’s case in point came courtesy of a woman, dressed in an elaborately beaded gown and feather cover-up, who talked her way into the second-floor press room of the Beverly Wilshire. She helped herself to the buffet and sat down to enjoy dinner—only to be interrupted by an event organizer, who recognized that the woman was not, in fact, press.

Now, you might think that a woman who gets black-tie ready on a weeknight, books it to the Beverly Wilshire, and wills her way into the AARP press room deserves a gratis meal. But the event organizer did not, ordering her to leave.

When the AARP crasher refused, security was summoned to escort her out—but not before she could execute the perfect Hollywood exit, haughtily protesting, “But I know Diane Warren!”

Script developed by Never Enough Design