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Helen Mirren

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Also Known As: Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov, Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, Dame Helen Mirren Died:
Born: July 26, 1945 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chiswick, England, GB Profession: actor, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

From the age of 13, when she played Caliban in a school production of "The Tempest," Helen Mirren knew she wanted to become an actress. Despite her working-class upbringing and her less-than-supportive parents, Mirren emerged to become one of the most celebrated and decorated British actress of her time. With a combination of poise, confidence, intelligence and undeniable sex appeal, Mirren became famous for her challenging performances on stage and screen that often included removing her clothes, a public exhibition that sometimes stood in the way of her work. Nonetheless, Mirren turned in exquisite performances onstage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, before making a name in film and on television. But true stardom eluded her until she landed what became her signature role, playing a police inspector battling sexism and a troubled personal life in "Prime Suspect" (PBS, 1990), a role she returned to with frequency throughout the years. Mirren then reached the top of her game in 2006 when she won a slew of awards - including an Oscar - for her complex portrayal of Elizabeth II in "The Queen" (2006). Not only did Mirren affirm her status as a high-caliber actress, but she proudly relished the...

From the age of 13, when she played Caliban in a school production of "The Tempest," Helen Mirren knew she wanted to become an actress. Despite her working-class upbringing and her less-than-supportive parents, Mirren emerged to become one of the most celebrated and decorated British actress of her time. With a combination of poise, confidence, intelligence and undeniable sex appeal, Mirren became famous for her challenging performances on stage and screen that often included removing her clothes, a public exhibition that sometimes stood in the way of her work. Nonetheless, Mirren turned in exquisite performances onstage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, before making a name in film and on television. But true stardom eluded her until she landed what became her signature role, playing a police inspector battling sexism and a troubled personal life in "Prime Suspect" (PBS, 1990), a role she returned to with frequency throughout the years. Mirren then reached the top of her game in 2006 when she won a slew of awards - including an Oscar - for her complex portrayal of Elizabeth II in "The Queen" (2006). Not only did Mirren affirm her status as a high-caliber actress, but she proudly relished the renewed attention to her allure, which aroused a new generation of fans accustomed to actresses less than half her age.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  On the Edge (2001) Director ("Happy Birthday")

CAST: (feature film)

2.
3.
4.
 Red 2 (2013)
5.
 Phil Spector (2013)
6.
 Hitchcock (2012)
7.
 Arthur (2011)
8.
 Brighton Rock (2011)
10.
 Arabia 3D (2010)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Ilford and Southend-on-Sea, England
1965:
Played Cleopatra at the Old Vic with the National Youth Theater at age 18
1967:
Joined Royal Shakespeare Company
1967:
TV debut in BBC production of "Herostradus"
1968:
Played Hermia in a British TV adaptation of "A Midsummer's Night Dream"; directed by Peter Hall (released theatrically in the USA)
1969:
Offered memorable turn as the unclothed muse for James Mason in "Age of Consent"
1971:
Had supporting role in the BBC production of "Cousin Bette"; aired on PBS' "Masterpiece Theater" in 1972
1972:
Toured Africa and America with Peter Brook's theater company
1972:
Co-starred in Ken Russell's "Savage Messiah" and had title role in film "Miss Julie"
1973:
Appeared in Lindsay Anderson's "O Lucky Man!"
1974:
Starred opposite Michael Jayston in the thriller "Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill" (ABC); film aired in Great Britain as "Coffin for the Bride"
:
Won raves for playing Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth"
1975:
Garnered acclaim for her stage performance in "The Sea Gull"
1975:
Starred opposite Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates and Malcolm McDowell in British TV adaptation of Harold Pinter's play "The Collection"
1978:
Had lead role of Rosalind in the BBC/PBS production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It"; part of a series in which all the Bard's plays were performed
1979:
Co-starred in the notorious and controversial feature "Caligula"
1979:
Played the love interest to Bob Hoskins' gangster in the acclaimed "The Long Good Friday"
1981:
Was featured as Morgana (aka Morgan Le Fey) in John Boorman's "Excalibur"
1981:
Cast as the fairy queen Titania in the BBC/PBS adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
1983:
Played Imogen in the BBC/PBS version of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline"
1983:
Had second go as the Egyptian queen in "Antony and Cleopatra" opposite Michael Gambon
1984:
Offered a beautifully nuanced turn as the widow of a British soldier who falls in love with the young Irishman responsible for his death in "Cal"; earned the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival
1984:
Cast as a Russian astronaut in "2010"
1985:
Met future husband Taylor Hackford when he directed her in "White Nights"
1986:
Starred opposite Harrison Ford in "The Mosquito Coast"
1988:
Acted opposite Ben Kingsley in "Pascali's Island"
1989:
Had title role of the cheating spouse of a gangster in Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" opposite Michael Gambon
1990:
Created signature role of Detective Inspector Jane Tennison in the Granada Television drama "Prime Suspect" (aired in USA on PBS in 1991); reprised the role in several series between 1992 and 2006
1990:
Co-starred with Rupert Everett in the thriller "The Comfort of Strangers"
1994:
Played the queen in "Prince of Jutland/Royal Deceit," a drama that purported to tell the "real" story of Hamlet
1994:
Received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination playing the loyal queen in "The Madness of King George"; co-starring Nigel Hawthorne and Rupert Everett
1995:
Made Broadway debut in "A Month in the Country"; received a Tony nomination
1996:
First screen credit as associate producer on "Some Mother's Son"; also starred as an Irishwoman whose son is imprisoned for alleged IRA activities
1997:
Associate produced and starred as a faded rock singer turned sleuth in the British TV mystery "Painted Lady"; aired on PBS in the USA
1998:
Starred opposite Alan Rickman in the London stage production of "Antony and Cleopatra"
1998:
Voiced the Queen in the animated feature "The Prince of Egypt"
1999:
Gave a brilliant star turn in the title role of the Showtime film "The Passion of Ayn Rand"; received second Emmy Award
1999:
Cast as the titular educator in the black comedy "Teaching Mrs. Tingle"
1999:
Returned to the London stage in "Collected Stories"
2000:
Co-starred opposite Stuart Townsend in the Donmar staging of "Orpheus Descending"
2000:
Had leading comic role as a gardening expert in the British comedy "Greenfingers"; screened at Cannes; first screen teaming with Clive Owen (released theatrically in the USA in 2001)
2001:
Directed the short, "Happy Birthday" (filmed 2000); aired on Showtime as part of <i>Directed By</i> series in the edition entitled "On the Edge"
2001:
Returned to Broadway opposite Ian McKellen in "The Dance of Death"
2001:
Played the efficient housekeeper Mrs. Wilson in Robert Altman's "Gosford Park"; reteamed on screen with Clive Owen and Michael Gambon; earned second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
2002:
Cast as a ruthless TV news producer in Hal Hartley's "No Such Thing"
2002:
Co-starred in the Television movie "Door To Door"; earned Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie; received an Emmy nomination for Supporting Actress
2003:
Starred in the television feature "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone"; received Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
2003:
Starred in "Calender Girls"as one of the women of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire that posed nude in 1999, to raise money for Leukemia; earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress
2003:
Returned as Inspector Jane Tennison to the PBS Masterpiece Theatre miniseries "Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness''; received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (2004)
2004:
Appeared in the Comedy "Raising Helen" directed by Garry Marshall
2004:
Co-starred with Robert Redford and Willem Dafoe in the thriller "The Clearing"
2006:
Starred opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in Lee Daniels' indie film "Shadowboxer"
2006:
Reprised role of Inspector Jane Tennison in the PBS Masterpiece Theatre miniseries "Prime Suspect: The Final Act"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2006:
Offered an award winning performance as the Queen of England in the Channel 4/HBO joint production of "Elizabeth I"
2006:
Portrayed Queen Elizabeth II following the tragic death of Diana, Princess Of Wales in "The Queen"
2008:
Published her memoir, <i>In the Frame</i>
2009:
Cast as the ruthless editor of the <i>Washington Globe</i> in the political thriller, "State of Play"
2009:
Portrayed Sofya Tolstoy, opposite Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy, in the German biographical film, "The Last Station"; earned Independent Spirit, Golden Globe, SAG and Oscar nominations for Best Actress
2010:
Starred in "Love Ranch," based on the true story of a married couple who opened the first legal brothel in Nevada; her husband Taylor Hackford directed the film
2010:
Co-starred with Bruce Willis in "Red," an adaption of the comic book mini-series of the same name
2010:
Starred as Prospera in the Julie Taymor directed adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest"
2011:
Played Hobson, the title character's nanny in the remake of "Arthur," opposite Russell Brand
2011:
Played a former Mossad agent in "The Debt"
2012:
Portrayed the filmmaker's wife and longtime creative partner Alma Reville in "Hitchcock"
2013:
Received star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
2013:
Featured in Pixar's "Monsters University"
2013:
Starred in the action sequel "Red 2"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

St Bernard's Convent: -
Royal Shakespeare Company: -
National Youth Theatre: London , England - 1963 - 1964
International Centre for Theatre Research: - 1972 - 1973

Notes

Mirren has a small tatoo on her right hand just above her thumb. "I got it on an Indian reservation after I'd had a few drinks. I'd never have it removed, but I do have to cover it up sometimes." --From New York Newsday, December 28, 1994.

"Once my ambition was to be a great classical actress. Now I see acting as entertainment." --Mirren quoted in "Comfortable as a Queen or a Cop" by Blake Green in New York Newsday, December 28, 1994.

"I'm lucky with the culture I come from. There isn't the definition there is in America [where] you're either a film actress or a TV actress or a stage actress. ... I've literally done film, television, theater--and on a pretty substantial level. I don't think that's possible for American actors to do that." --Mirren quoted by Stephen Schaefer in USA Today, January 4, 1995.

"When I was about 25, I was really depressed and uptight and fucked up. I went to a hand reader, this Indian guy in this funky neighborhood. He said, 'The height of your success won't happen till you're in your late forties.' From that moment on, I felt much better, because I realized I didn't want to know what was going to happen. I just wanted to get on with it." --Helen Mirred quoted in Time Out New York, February 6-13, 1997.

"Acting isn't about wearing clothes, It's not about taking them off, either. That's not the creation of your career or the destruction." --Mirren on her penchant for appearing nude quoted in USA Today, August 18, 1999.

"The biggest break of my career was playing Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect. It allowed me finally to step forward to the next generation, to catch up with who I really was. It was a huge relief not to have to play even one year younger.

" ... there are some great film roles and a smaller number of women who are hanging on in there, like me. In fact, when they need someone who looks older, there are even fewer of us who haven't had plastic surgery. There's a difficult period between 44 and 58 when you're no longer a mature, good-looking woman and not yet an old bird, but after that it's fine." --Mirren quoted in London's The Sunday Times, November 7, 1999.

Asked if she regretted not having children, Mirren told The Guardian (November 15, 1999): "... God no. No, never. Absolutely never ever ever. I needed the freedom to do all the things I needed. So no absolutely never."

"I'm not a movie star. I'm not even famous. ... Career -- I hate that word. It smacks of ambition. There's something embarrassing and slightly distateful about it to me. Maybe that's a British thing. You're supposed to be humble and dedicated and above all truthful. But you're not supposed to be ambitious." --Helen Mirren quoted in the Daily News, July 22, 2001.

"Greenfingers" and "Gosford Park" co-star Clive Owen on Mirren: "There is a sort of honesty to Helen's work. She's much too straightforward to succumb to any kind of 'like me' acting." --From Daily News, July 22, 2001.

"I associate her very strongly with some of the movies that inspired me to become a filmmaker. I felt like I was working with a legend." --Hal Hartley who directed Mirren in "No Such Thing" (2002), quoted in the Daily News, July 22, 2001.

"Mirren always has a private moment with the camera, a moment in which we see beneath the harassed, brisk manner, exactly what she's thinking and feeling. She sets the emotional and moral values. And we accept what we learn from her because she's always a three-dimensional person, hurt and hurting, strong yet easily angered. Maturity has never looked so ripe, so sexual--and so intellectually focused at the same time." --Critic David Denby in "Guilty Pleasure"

On working with Ian McKellen in "The Dance of Death", Mirren told Time Out New York (September 13-20, 2001): "We do have two different rhythms, and I think we can learn from each other. He likes to dissect, analyze, pull it apart, and I just want to get out and do it. My fault in life is that I hurtle at things too fast."

"I learnt my gardening from an old boyfriend. In fact, everything that has made me into a good person, I have learnt from men." --Helen Mirren quoted in The Independent, September 20, 2001.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Liam Neeson. Actor. Together c. 1981-83; met during filming of "Excalibur".
husband:
Taylor Hackford. Director, producer. Together since 1984; married on December 31, 1997 in Inverness, Scotland; had been married and divorced twice with a son from each marriage.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Basil Mirren. Taxi driver. Russian; original surname Mironoff; adapted Mirren as surname in 1955.
brother:
Peter Mirren. Teacher. Older.
sister:
Katherine Mirren. Teacher. Younger.
step-son:
Rio Hackford. Jewelry designer. Born on June 28, 1970; mother, Georie Lowres Hackford.
step-son:
Alexander Hackford. Born on May 15, 1979; mother, Lynn Littman.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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