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Helen Mirren: A Woman In Her Time - Yellow Magpie

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Published on October 11th, 2010 | by Yellow Magpie


Helen Mirren: A Woman In Her Time

Like a fine and expensive wine, Helen Mirren has grown rich and ripe with age. At 65, when other actresses of her years are hanging up their boots, she is at the pinnacle of her career.

A palm reader is reported to have told Mirren that her career would not peak until her 40s and it would appear this is certainly the case. She is currently hot property and with an Academy Award under her finely honed belt, for her stunning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in The Queen, she can now command top dollar for any movie she makes.

Quick Reference Guide

Russian Origins

Helen Mirren is one of the world’s finest actresses. Stunningly talented and intelligent with an earthy sensuality, she has chosen her parts well and they have brought her rich rewards.

Born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, Helen’s father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov was Russian and her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda was English. The regal air Helen portrayed in ‘The Queen’, could be attributed to her paternal grandfather, Pyotr Vassilievich Mironov, a Russian Nobleman.

During the Russian Revolution Pyotr Mironov was in Britain to negotiate an arms deal but became stranded there. ‘When I go to Russia i realize I look Russian. But growing up as an immigrant we were encouraged to forget our heritage. I have always felt I am genetically half Russian there is an affinity there.‘, she once said in an interview. However, it is understood that she doesn’t speak Russian.


Mirren spent her early acting career with the National Youth Theatre, and the Royal Shakespearean Company, acting in plays such as Troilus and Cressida, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Nonetheless, it was her role as Detective Chief Inspector, and later Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison, in Prime Suspect which brought her to a wider audience and showed her tremendous acting skill.

A Royal Blossoming

Her role as Queen Elizabeth in ‘The Queen’, was amazing. Wigs, costume and make-up were spot on and contributed greatly to giving her the appearance of Queen Elizabeth but it was her superb acting, her voice, her carriage, her dignity and decorum that brought the character to life. It was a triumph for Mirren gaining her an academy award.

When it comes to acting Helen Mirren said the best bit of advise she ever got was from American actor Bob Balaban who said you don’t know where the arrow is going to land. She said ‘you can try to emotionally express the pain or loss of what you are trying to do with a part and then you look at the screen and you think that wasn’t what I intended to do at all’, so she said ‘he taught me to let the arrow fall where it may and let it go‘. Mirren said she finds doing this very liberating.

On her famous sex appeal Mirren said, ‘I don’t think women do lose their sex appeal it just shifts, it is some indefinable thing that has to do with appreciation of life, appreciation of wisdom, there should be a special word for it‘.

Referring to the tattoo on her hand Mirren said she had the tattoo when she got drunk one time on an Indian reservation and had it done, it is a South American Indian sign.


Having said she would never marry, Helen Mirren married Taylor Hackford on December 31, 1997 in Inverness, Scotland. Thecouple met when Hackford was directing her in the film White Nights. On her wedding day Helen wore a white embroidered dress and Taylor wore a traditional Scottish kilt. They have no children together, though Taylor Hackford has two grown-up children from two previous marriages.

There is no doubt Helen Mirren is one of the greatest female actors of our time, one of her strengths is that she can play a serious and comic role with equal aplomb. She brings a touch of class to every film and TV series she appears in.

In addition, she is an incredible role model for women who think they are past it when they reach a certain age. She has maintained her glamour and allure down through the years and may she continue to entertain and enthrall us on screen and off.

Highly Recommended Get From Amazon

You can obtain Prime Suspect and The Queen here from Amazon.

For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access Prime Suspect and The Queen here.

For those who live in Canada, you can obtain Prime Suspect and The Queen from here.

For Germany: Prime Suspect and The Queen.

For France: Prime Suspect and The Queen.

Check out Yellow Magpie’s post on Helen Mirren Quotes for her quirky takes on life, acting and flesh in Hollywood.

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