- Category : Entertainment-Actor-Actress
- Type : ME
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 2
Dame Helen Mirren, DBE, (born on July 26, 1945) is an English stage, television and film actress. She has won an Academy Award, four SAG Awards and assorted BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Emmy Awards during her career.
Mirren was born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov in Ilford, Essex, now a part of Greater London. She was the second of three children of a father of Russian origin and an English mother. Mirren's paternal grandfather, a Russian nobleman, tsarist colonel and diplomat, was negotiating an arms deal in Britain and was stranded there, along with his family, during the Russian Revolution.
Her father, Vasily Petrovich Mironov, called himself Basil and changed the family name to Mirren in the 1950s. He played the viola with the London Philharmonic before World War II and, after it, drove a cab and was a driving-test examiner. Mirren's mother, Kathleen Rogers, was the thirteenth of fourteen children born to a butcher whose father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria. Mirren considers her upbringing to have been "very anti-monarchist".
Mirren attended a Catholic girls' school, St. Bernard's High School, in Southend-on-Sea, and subsequently a teaching college in London. At age 18 she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and was accepted. By age 20 she was a star at the Old Vic. Mirren married American director Taylor Hackford (her partner since 1986), in the Scottish Highlands on 31 December 1997, his 53rd birthday. It was her first marriage, and his second (he has two children from his previous marriage). Mirren has no children and says she has "no maternal instinct whatsoever."
Her great-great-great-great-grandfather was the Russian field-marshal Mikhail Kamensky, one of the heroes of the Napoleonic wars.
On 5 December 2003, she was invested as a Dame Commander of the British Empire . When she received the honour, Mirren commented that Prince Charles was "very graceful" but forgot to give her half of the award, where another person had to remind him to give Mirren the star. She also stated that she felt wary about accepting the award and had to be persuaded by fellow comrades to accept the DBE. In 1996 she had previously declined a CBE.
Following appearances on stage during her school years at St Bernard's High School for Girls in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, Mirren's first starring role was in 1965 as Cleopatra for the National Youth Theatre. This led to her joining the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Castiza in Trevor Nunn's 1966 staging of The Revenger's Tragedy, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida in 1968 and the title role in Miss Julie at The Other Place in 1971. In 1972-73 Mirren worked with Peter Brook's International Centre for Theatre Research, and joined the group's tour in North Africa and the US which created The Conference of the Birds. Returning to the RSC she played Lady Macbeth at Stratford in 1974 and at the Aldwych Theatre in 1975.
As reported by Sally Beaumann in her 1982 history of the RSC, Mirren while appearing in Nunn's Macbeth and in a highly publicised letter to the Guardian newspaper, attacked both the National Theatre and the RSC for their lavish production expenditure, declaring it "unnecessary and destructive to the art of the Theatre"; adding, "The realms of truth, emotion and imagination reached for in acting a great play have become more and more remote, often totally unreachable across an abyss of costume and technicalities..." But Mirren was only stating publicly what many RSC actors had been saying in private for some years. She notably starred at the Royal Court in September 1975 as the chanteuse Maggie in Teeth 'n' Smiles, a musical play by David Hare, revived at Wyndham's Theatre in May 1976 winning her the Plays & Players Best Actress award, voted by the London critics.
From November 1975 Mirren played in West End repertory with the Lyric Theatre Company as Nina in The Seagull and Ella in Ben Travers' new farce The Bed Before Yesterday ('Mirren is stirringly voluptuous as the Harlowesque good-time girl': Michael Billington, Guardian, 10 December 1975). At the RSC in Stratford in 1977, and at the Aldwych the following year, she played a steely Queen Margaret in Terry Hands' production of the three parts of Henry VI, while 1979 saw her 'bursting with grace' with an acclaimed performance as Isabella in Peter Gill's otherwise unexceptional production of Measure for Measure at Riverside Studios. In 1981 she returned to the Royal Court for the London premiere of Brian Friel's Faith Healer. In the same year she also received acclaim for her performance in the title role of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, a Royal Exchange Theatre production at the Round House in London. Reviewing her portrayal for the Sunday Telegraph, Francis King wrote: "Miss Mirrren never leaves it in doubt that even in her absences, this ardent, beautiful woman is the most important character of the story."
Her performance as Moll Cutpurse in The Roaring Girl Royal Shakespeare Theatre in January 1983, and at the Barbican Theatre April 1983), "swaggered through the action with radiant singularity of purpose, filling in areas of light and shade that even Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker omitted." - Michael Coveney, Financial Times, April 1983. After a relatively barren sojourn in the Hollywood Hills, she returned to England at the beginning of 1989 to co-star with Bob Peck at the Young Vic in the London premiere of the Arthur Miller double-bill, Two Way Mirror, performances which prompted Miller to remark: "What is so good about English actors is that they are not afraid of the open expression of large emotions" (interview by Sheridan Morley: The Times 11 January 1989). In Elegy for a Lady she played the svelte proprietress of a classy boutique, while as the blonde hooker in Some Kind of Love Story she was "clad in a Freudian slip and shifting easily from waif-like vulnerability to sexual aggression, giving the role a breathy Monroesque quality" (Michael Billington, The Guardian).
A stage career breakthrough came in 1994, in an Yvonne Arnaud Theatre production bound for the West End and later Broadway, when Bill Bryden cast her as Natalya Petrovna in Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country. Her co-stars were John Hurt as her aimless lover Rakitin and Ralph Fiennes in only his second professional stage appearance as the cocksure young tutor Belyaev. "Instead of a bored Natalya fretting the summmer away in dull frocks, Mirren, dazzlingly gowned, is a woman almost wilfully allowing her heart's desire for her son's young tutor to rule her head and wreak domestic havoc....Creamy shoulders bared, she feels free to launch into a gloriously enchanted, dreamily comic self-confession of love." (John Thaxter, Richmond & Twickenham Times, 4 March 1994). Mirren was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actress (Play): in 1995 for A Month in the Country, the performance she had given the year before in the West End, and again in 2002 for August Strindberg's Dance of Death.
She had an unhappy experience at the National Theatre in 1998 when she played Cleopatra to Alan Rickman's Antony. But in 2000 Nicholas Hytner, who had worked with Mirren on the film version of The Madness of King George, cast her as Lady Torrance in his revival of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Michael Billington, reviewing for The Guardian, described her performance as "an exemplary study of an immigrant woman who has acquired a patina of resilient toughness but who slowly acknowledges her sensuality." At the National Theatre in November 2003 she again won praise playing Christine ("defiantly cool, camp and skittish", Evening Standard; "glows with mature sexual allure", Daily Telegraph) in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra directed by Howard Davies.
Mirren has made numerous appearances in an array of films. Some of her earlier film appearances include Excalibur, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, The Long Good Friday, White Nights and The Mosquito Coast. After those appearances she received roles in Belfast-born director Terry George's film Some Mother's Son, which was about the 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland, opposite Irish actress Fionnuala Flanagan, Painted Lady, The Prince of Egypt and The Madness of King George. One of Mirren's other film roles was in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as the eponymous thief's wife, opposite Michael Gambon.
Mirren continued her successful film career when she starred more recently in Gosford Park with Maggie Smith and Calendar Girls where she starred with Julie Walters. Other more recent appearances include The Clearing, Pride, Raising Helen, and Shadowboxer. Mirren also provided the voice for the supercomputer "Deep Thought" in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series. These include Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in the film The Queen (2006), and Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, in The Madness of King George (1994). Her role in The Queen gained her numerous awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, Mirren praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign as Queen.
Mirren has frequently appeared nude on film as far back as her first film Age of Consent, and was over 50 when she appeared nude in the film Calendar Girls and on the cover of the Radio Times October 5-11 issue in 1996.
Mirren is most often recognized for her role as detective Jane Tennison in the well-known Prime Suspect, a television drama that ran for many series. The role won her three consecutive BAFTA awards for Best Actress between 1992 to 1994. Other acclaimed television performances include Cousin Bette (1971), As You Like It (1979), Losing Chase (1996), The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999), Door to Door (2002), and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003). In 1976 Mirren appeared opposite Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates and Malcolm McDowell in the episode The Collection of the Granada television series Laurence Olivier Presents. She also played Elizabeth I in 2005, in the television series Elizabeth I, for Channel 4 and HBO, where she received an Emmy for her performance.
Awards and recognition
In 1984, Mirren won Best Actress for her role in the film Cal at the Cannes Film Festival and the 1985 Evening Standard British Film Awards. In 1994 and 2001, she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her roles in The Madness of King George and Gosford Park, respectively. In 2002, she received the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Gosford Park. Mirren is the first female actress to be nominated for three acting performances at the Golden Globe Awards in the same year. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role in the movie drama category for Stephen Frears' The Queen in 2006 (along with two nominations in the Actress in a Mini-series or TV Movie category for Elizabeth I, and Prime Suspect: Final Act). She won both Golden Globes for The Queen and Elizabeth I and also won two SAG awards the same year for the same roles. Mirren is the third actor to win two Golden Globes in the same year, and the first ever to win for both leading roles in TV and film in the same year. She is one of only two actresses (the other is Helen Hunt) to win a Golden Globe, an Oscar and an Emmy for performances given in the same year.
Along with the Golden Globe, Mirren's acclaimed performance in The Queen won her the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actress. She also received Best Actress awards from the Venice Film Festival, Broadcast Film Critics, National Board of Review, Satellite Awards, Screen Actors Guild and a BAFTA, as well as critics awards from all over the world. Entertainment Weekly recently ranked her Number 2 for Entertainer of the Year for 2006 and also won the award for best actress in film at the new Greatest Britons Awards for her role in The Queen.
Mirren won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Mini-series or TV Movie in 1997 for her role in Losing Chase. She received two nominations in the Actress in a Mini-series or TV Movie category for Elizabeth I, and Prime Suspect: Final Act, where she only won the Golden Globe for her portrayal of the The Queen in Elizabeth I. In that same year she won an SAG award for that same role. Mirren also won an Emmy for her role in Elizabeth I in category Lead Actress in a Mini-Series or a Movie in 2006. She had previously won an Emmy twice before, in that same category, in 1996 for her role in Prime Suspect: Scent of Darkness and in 1999 for The Passion of Ayn Rand.
Critics' Circle Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts
Each year since 1988 The Critics' Circle has presented an award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, voted for by all members of the Circle, embracing Dance, Drama, Film, Music, Visual Arts and Architecture. At a celebratory luncheon on 10th April 2007 in the National Theatre's Terrace Restaurant, the award for 2006 was presented to Dame Helen Mirren. As David Gritten, chairman of the Film section made clear, the decision to make the award was voted on in November 2006, well in advance of the awards hubbub that surrounded her performance in The Queen. Accepting the award, an engraved crystal rose bowl, Mirren described it as the most useful she has ever received, while reflecting poignantly that this now "might be the last award I will win in my life. It has been a most incredible year. You do the work and then....." Previous recipients include Sir Peter Hall (1988), Dame Judi Dench (1997) and Ian McKellen (2003).