- Dame Helen Lydia Mirren
July 26, 1945 (age 75)
- Actor, Voice Actor
- Taylor Hackford
- Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda Rogers
Dame Helen Lydia Mirren, DBE (née Mironoff; born 26 July 1945), is an English actor. Mirren has won an Academy Award, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards. In 2003, she received a damehood for services to the performing arts at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Mirren began her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the latter half of the 1960s. From her very first film appearance (playing the young muse to a middle-aged artist in 1969’s Age of Consent), Mirren displayed the overtly sensual screen persona that would become her trademark. Other early movies included O Lucky Man! (1973), Excalibur (1981) and The Long Good Friday (1982).
During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series:Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), for which she received Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress, Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), which won her the Academy and BAFTA Award for Best Actress, and Queen Charlotte in The Madness of King George (1994), for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She is the only actress ever to have portrayed both Queens Elizabeth on the screen.
Mirren played the no-nonsense police detective Jane Tennison on the praised ITV series Prime Suspect for a total of seven seasons from 1991 to 2006, and won numerous awards for the role, including BAFTA and Emmy awards.
Making her West End stage debut in the 1970s, Mirren returned to the London stage most recently in 2013, playing Queen Elizabeth II for the second time in a play titled The Audience. Mirren was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January 2013. In April 2013, she was awarded best actress at the Laurence Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience. In January 2014, BAFTA announced that Mirren would be the recipient of the Academy Fellowship.
Early life and family
Mirren was born Helen Lydia Mironoff in Queen Charlotte's Hospital Hammersmith,London. Her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov (1913–1980), was of Russian origin, originally from Smolensk Oblast, and her mother, Kitty (née Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda Rogers; 1909–1996), was English. Mirren's paternal grandfather, Colonel Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov, was in the Imperial Russian Army and fought in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. He later became a diplomat, and was negotiating an arms deal in Britain when he and his family were stranded during the Russian Revolution. The former diplomat became a London cab driver to support his family and eventually settled down in Britain.
His son, Helen Mirren's father, changed the family name to Mirren in the 1950s and became known as Basil Mirren. He played the viola with the London Philharmonic before World War II, and later drove a taxi cab and was a driving-test examiner, before becoming a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport. Mirren's mother was a working-class Londoner from West Ham, East London, and was the 13th of 14 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 was the second of three children; she was born two years after her older sister Katherine ("Kate"; born 1942), and has a younger brother, who was named Peter Basil after his grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Mirren was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
Mirren has appeared in a large number of films throughout her career. Some of her earlier film appearances include roles in Midsummer Night's Dream, Age of Consent, O Lucky Man!, Caligula, Excalibur, 2010, The Long Good Friday, White Nights, When the Whales Came and The Mosquito Coast. She appeared in Some Mother's Son, Painted Lady, The Prince of Egypt and The Madness of King George. One of her other film roles was in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as the thief's wife, opposite Michael Gambon. In Teaching Mrs. Tingle she plays sadistic History teacher, Mrs Eve Tingle. In 2007 she claimed director Michael Winner had treated her "like a piece of meat" at a casting call in 1964. Asked about the incident, Winner told The Guardian: "I don't remember asking her to turn around but if I did I wasn't being serious. I was only doing what the [casting] agent asked me – and for this I get reviled! Helen's a lovely person, she's a great actress and I'm a huge fan, but her memory of that moment is a little flawed."
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: Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of George III, in The Madness of King George (1994). She is the only actress ever to have portrayed both Queens Elizabeth on the screen.
Mirren's title role of The Queen earned her numerous acting awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, among many others. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, she praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign as Queen. Mirren later appeared in supporting roles in the films National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Inkheart, State of Play, and The Last Station, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.
In preparation for her role as a retired Israeli Mossad agent in the film The Debt, Mirren reportedly immersed herself in studies of Hebrew language, Jewish history, and Holocaust writing, including the life of Simon Wiesenthal, while in Israel in 2009 for the filming of some of the movie's scenes. The film is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film of the same name (Hebrew: Ha-khov).
Mirren attended St Bernard's High School for Girls in Southend-on-Sea, where she acted in school productions, and subsequently a teaching college, the New College of Speech and Drama in London, "housed within Anna Pavlova's old home, Ivy House" on the North End Road – which leads from Golders Green to Hampstead, N. London. Aged eighteen, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and was accepted. By the time she was 20, she was playing Cleopatra in the NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic, which led to her signing with the agent Al Parker.
Mirren lived with actor Liam Neeson during the early 1980s. They had met whilst working on Excalibur (1981). Interviewed by James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson said she was instrumental in his getting an agent.
Mirren married American director Taylor Hackford (her partner since 1986) on 31 December 1997, his 53rd birthday. The ceremony took place at the Ardersier Parish Church near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The couple had met on the set of White Nights. It is her first marriage, and his third (he has two children from his previous marriages). Mirren has no children and says she has "no maternal instinct whatsoever."