Today we celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite British Dames! She was born in July 26, 1945 in Hammersmith, London. She got her start in her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Oscar-winning actress has had an illustrious career with over 130 credits under her belt spanning over 6 decades, that’s not even counting her various theatrical work which garner her Laurence Olivier Theatre Award and Tony nominations. She is one of the 10 actresses I’d watch in just about ANYTHING … I mean, I even enjoyed her in silly action flicks like Fast Saga and RED. Well, I hope she gets to do more interesting roles all the way to her sunset years.
Before I get to her fave roles, are a few interesting facts about Dame Mirren (Source: Factinate, 10 Facts About)
- Her father had Russian aristocratic roots, and she was actually born Illiana Lydia Petrovna Mironova
Mirren has frequently spoken about her choice not to have children, saying that “I never felt the need for a child and never felt the loss of it. . .I’d always put my work before anything.”
Mirren has played a queen six different times over her career. Most notable was her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 in The Queen, for which she won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a SAG Award. Queen Elizabeth II herself has stated that The Queen was one of her favorite films of that year.
Mirren and Liam Neeson met when they both starred in the 1980 film Excalibur, and ended up dating for four years. Neeson confessed to being “smitten” with Mirren the first time he saw her in her Morgan le Fay costume. The relationship eventually ended when Mirren, seven years his senior, encouraged him to leave the proverbial nest and find his own path in Hollywood. One year after her split with Neeson, she met her future husband, director Taylor Hackford.
Here’s an amusing reunion on Graham Norton you’ve just got to watch:
Mirren is known to have a rebellious streak. When on a visit to a Native American reservation located in Minnesota, on a whim she got a star tattoo made on her left hand.
The TV series Frasier was known for having famous voices call into Dr. Crane’s radio show, and Mirren was no exception. She was a caller on a 2004 episode called “Coots and Ladders,” and played a character named Babette.
Now, speaking of her film roles, here are seven of my favorite roles she’s done so far:
It’s her most famous role where she practically swept every single award that year, deservedly so. It’s one of my favorite Best Actress Oscar winners and reportedly even the real Queen Elizabeth herself liked her performance! It was more than just her spot-on physical transformation, facial expression, voice delivery, but her emotional delivery makes the performance iconic.
Eye in the Sky
I saw this film because who could resist Dame Mirren AND Alan Rickman in the same film! If you like cerebral war thrillers with a great cast, well then I highly recommend this one. Dame Mirren is convincing as a conflicted military officer who had to navigate through such maddening protocols and bureaucracy in times of war.
The Good Liar
Now, this one is another thriller that’s worth a watch for the dynamic duo of Dame Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen. They’re truly the reason to see this film that misses from being truly great due to the script/direction being uneven. I love how the two British thespian who are masters of their craft play opposite each other, and as my pal Vince said in his review, the first two thirds of the movie is a slow burn of calculated intensity.
Wow, can’t believe it’s been over a decade since I saw this Nazi-themed thriller, but I remember really enjoying it and I saw it primarily for Dame Mirren who’s billed as the lead. She truly carried the film though it’s got a pretty good supporting cast including Jessica Chastain and Tom Wilkinson. She even got to speak a bit of Russian in the beginning, though she actually doesn’t speak the language of her native heritage.
This is an intriguing film for fans of Hitchcock as it’s set during the making of Psycho. The film showcases the relationship between one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century (played by Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). Though Hopkins is the lead, Dame Mirren is the main reason to see it for me. I love all the scenes Alma is in, especially the part where she passionately gave her husband a piece of her mind during a heated argument.
The Last Station
Yet another period piece where Dame Mirren played a prominent character in a celebrated male artistic icon. As Countess Sofya Andreevna Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy’s muse, she sizzles once again played opposite another prominent British thespian Christopher Plummer. The story centers on Tolstoy’s struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things. I just love her energy, vulnerability and spunk in this role and no doubt the emotional core of the story.
Woman In Gold
Last but not least, this is another WWII-themed drama with Dame Mirren as Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee whose family artwork was one of the plethora Jewish artwork plundered by the Nazis during the war. Mirren is perfectly cast as someone with the strength and determination to take on the Austrian government to get back what’s rightfully hers. In my review from 2015, I said I didn’t really care for Ryan Reynolds‘ casting, though in hindsight he’s actually ok in this movie. The star of the film is definitely Dame Mirren, with strong supporting performances from Tatiana Maslany as her younger character and Antje Traue who played her aunt during the war, oh and there’s also Daniel Brühl who’s terrific in everything.
17 thoughts on “7 Favorite Roles of Helen Mirren to Celebrate Her Birthday”
I really liked her in Excalibur as I think that was the first film I saw her in as she’s just cool. I enjoy seeing her in the Fast & Furious franchise as I really think she should have a beefier role where she has to team up with a former adversary in Paul Walker’s mother played by… Meryl Streep! There’s a shitload of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to be made for a movie like that.
Yes Excalibur is one of her earlier roles and she was extremely sexy in it that Liam Neeson was transfixed, as he said in that Graham Norton video. But yeah, it’d be great to see her opposite another amazing actress like Streep or Catherine Deneuve!
I smell $$$$$$$$ on a project like that.
Let’s hope it happens one day!
I’m glad you liked Eye in the Sky. That was a nice little film, and of course she was wonderful in The Queen. I’d like to watch that one again.
Glad you like Eye in the Sky, I feel like it’s really underrated despite the stellar cast. I remember even Aaron Paul was great in it.
I’ve always enjoyed Helen Mirren’s performance every time she appeared on the screen. I’ve yet to see any of the films from your list here, I think the first film that I saw her in was Caligula.
You saw Caligula? I don’t even know where to see that, but I heard that film was notorious even by today’s standards.
I saw it way back in high school when I was working at a video store. Caligula was a popular video tape rental because the store I worked at carried the so-called uncut version. I don’t know if it’s something you would want to see. It’s produced by Penthouse founder, so it has tons of softcore sex scenes and graphic violence. From what I remember, the movie itself was kind of incoherent.
But yeah the film is very hard to find these days, I think there’s a Blu-ray on sale for like $100 on Amazon!
Yikes!! $100 bucks??! No way. Nah, I’m not really THAT interested, though I read on Wiki about its original writer Gore Vidal. Apparently his name was removed as the producer, director + lead actor rewrote the script to add extra sex and violence to increase its commercial success, ugh.
Oh my goodness, what a funny clip that is from the Graham Norton show! I love Helen Mirren, I really ought to explore her older movies.
I love Graham Norton show, and that’s one of my fave episodes. I feel like I should explore her older films and TV shows as well.
Pingback: The Alliance Lately: Issue No. 34 – The Minnesota Film Critics Alliance
Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 7/26/21 — 8/1/21 | Through the Shattered Lens
Mirren is absolutely one of the greats. She’s not only a very talented actress but that fun rebellious streak – like you say – means that if she were to do something totally outlandish, you wouldn’t really be that surprised.
I admire all these roles Helen Mirren played. I first heard of her as the dean in “Monster’s University.” I think she did fine there. But I would love to see how she portrays the queen.