Helen Mirren Thinks Everyones' Life Story Is Worth Telling

Life Stories: Helen Mirren

Marie Claire

Famously outspoken, Helen Mirren turned down being a Bond girl for her feminist principles, but it’s her acting presence that has kept her in demand for five decades

Words by Michelle Davies

When Helen Mirren was invited to appear on Michael Parkinson’s eponymous chat show in 1975, he must have assumed she would be one of his less contentious guests. This was her first primetime appearance and he was the doyen of celebrity interviews – how could it possibly go wrong?

Yet it did –  for him – as seen when the footage resurfaced on social media and went viral last August. When Parkinson blithely suggested her ‘equipment’ (nodding towards her breasts) might detract from her acting, Mirren didn’t simper and giggle as he clearly expected her to. Instead, quietly ‘enraged’ as she would later reveal, the actress – then 30 – shut down his sexist questioning with masterful aplomb: ‘I’d like you to explain what you mean by “my equipment”, you mean my fingers? Come on, spit it out,’ she urged him, before dismissing his questions as ‘boring’.

Now a Dame, with her latest filmCollateral Beautyhitting cinemas this December, she is one of only 13 actresses ever to have achieved what’s known as the Triple Crown of Acting – winning a Tony, Emmy and Oscar. Born Illiana Lydia Petrovna Mironova on 26 July, 1945, in west London, she was one of three children. Her Russian father Vasily, a civil servant, anglicised their names when Helen was nine. Her mother, Kathleen, was the daughter of an east London butcher who supplied meat to Queen Victoria. The family relocated to Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, when Mirren was two, because her parents felt the seaside was a nicer place to raise children. Mirren is fiercely proud of her roots. ‘I am still very much an Essex girl,’ she said. ‘My poshed-over voice was all learnt.’

It was watching an amateur production ofHamletat the Palace Theatre in nearby Westcliff-on-Sea when she was 13 that made Mirren want to act. ‘It was in all probability a very poor production – I certainly remember tights that were falling down – but the power of the story and the exoticism of the characters were overwhelming,’ she recalled in her 2008 autobiography,In The Frame: My Life In Words And Pictures.

Video: Dame Helen Mirren Enthrals Holly and Phillip With Her Ghostly Encounter Story | This Morning

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Date: 05.12.2018, 02:30 / Views: 41575