From Queen to sniper, this amazing actress can do it all. Dame Helen Mirren has enjoyed a lengthy and varied film career that started in 1966. Next, she returns in the sequel RED 2 as retired black-ops CIA agent. Her Red director Dean Parison said, “she actually would train with all the weapons so that she was sure to look incredibly proficient at it and in some ways she’s more proficient than anyone in the movie. She’s taking out bad guys left and right in this one.” Watch the trailer starring a badass Mirren.
A far cry from shooting guns and dissolving bodies in acid, she most recently won London’s Olivier award for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience. She joked that the actual Queen should win an award “for the most consistent and committed performance of the 20th century, and probably the 21st century.” It’s Mirren’s commitment to playing Elizabeth II that is defining her own career. She won an Oscar for her performance in the film The Queen in 2006. Watch a few clips highlighting her performance.
- Upon their first official meeting, newly-elected Blair and the queen engage in a playful power struggle. In this scene: Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), Tony Blair (Michael Sheen)
- The queen rejects Blair's request that she return to London, preferring instead to mourn Diana's passing "quietly, with dignity." In this scene: Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), Prince Philip (James Cromwell), Tony Blair (Michael Sheen)
- The queen is worried about her grandsons, but is conservative in expressing her own grief. In this scene: Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), Prince Philip (James Cromwell)
Mirren has also played Queen Charlotte in The Madness of King George and Queen Elizabeth I in the British TV series. But enough about Queens. Another of her amazing recent performances had her playing a retired Mossad agent in John Madden’s political thriller The Debt. In an interview with Ask Men, a site that labeled Mirren as one of the hottest women in Hollywood, she talked about the personal aspect of starring in The Debt.
The Debt, this film, it’s my history. [Mirren’s birth name is Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironoff.] I was born after the war but only just, and I was brought up with that very present in my youth. Only 10 years before — it’s like nothing when I think of it now. And this modern world out there, that is actually a very profound part of our living history. Its heavy stuff but that’s our job as storytellers and filmmakers. Shakespeare said we put a mirror up to nature. That’s our job, to put a mirror to society and remind people of things they’re forgetting or point out things everyone is looking the other way on. It’s our job to create drama.
A varied film career indeed, watch Mirren play the bored wife of a barbaric crime boss in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. According to Sight and Sound, this was one of the first films that led to the creation of the NC-17 rating. The Weinsteins and Mirren tried to appeal the rating and this is what she had to say.
I made a long speech about art, and what was art in filmmaking. I said that if a film was done with a deep, imaginative, artistic intent, even if children do go to see it, I think it’s less destructive to them than going to see so many of the horrible films that come out under an R rating. I can’t see where anything in our film is more destructive to the human spirit than the sort of mindless violence they do approve for children. You find yourself arguing within a system that you don’t basically believe in. I came to realize very quickly what the rules are, and how they shake down, I think it’s philistine, and I think it’s censorship.
Watch a few clips from the film to see a much different side of Dame Mirren.