7 Favorite Roles of Helen Mirren to Celebrate Her Birthday

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.

helen-mirren-queen

    • 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:

The Queen

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.

The Debt

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.

Hitchcock

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.

 


So what are some of YOUR favorite HELEN MIRREN’s cinematic roles?

FlixChatter Review: THE GOOD LIAR (2019)

Directed by: Bill Condon
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher
Starring: Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Russell Tovey

Advertised as the first ever pairing of Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen, The Good Liar boasts perhaps two of film’s all-time greatest. Based on the best-selling book by Nicholas Searle (a former British Intelligence officer) and adapted to screen by (MN native) Jeffrey Hatcher, McKellen plays Roy Courtnay, an octogenarian career swindler who preys on greedy businessmen by day and conning rich, lonely widows of their retirement by night. Via online dating, he meets Betty McLeish (Mirren), a former Oxford professor and widower. She is immediately swept off her feet by Roy’s charming ways, to the chagrin of her grandson Steven (Russell Tovey) who grows suspicious of his nebulous history and character. Is he there to steal her money? Of course. But will this be an easy con, or are there twists and turns up ahead?

As expected, the two leads give a solid performance. McKellen is smooth, easy to watch and almost fun. The same can be said of Mirren, who exudes an airy, determined cool that seems so effortless. The first two thirds of the film is a slow burn of calculated intensity. The thriller unfolds with the taut directness of a Graham Greene novel. Propelled by the actors fine execution, The Good Liar engaged me throughout the first and second act.

Craftily directed by Condon (Gods and Monsters), the film, while predictable, stays focused and lets the two leads carry the weight for the most part. But it all falls apart in the third and final act. While we anticipated the oncoming twists just around the bend, some aspects of the story bordered on the preposterous and came dangerously close to being camp. The final third of the film unintentionally gave off the scent of being an exploitation film. Revenge movies of the late 60s and early seventies come to mind as well as pulp novels they were based on.

Because of Mirren and McKellen, we can forgive the unconvincing story in exchange for their screen presence. And they do give off an entertaining and unique chemistry. But I left the theatre feeling a bit swindled myself. Conned out of an ending that wouldn’t leave me feeling hollow and ambivalent. As good as they were in the film, it seems an opportunity was lost here for something that could have been really special.

The Good Liar is a slick, almost elegant (thanks to Carter Burwell’s score) but uneven film. The genius of the two lead actors mask the inadequacies of the story and screenplay, but not enough to save it from its own predictability and obviousness. It should be said that it was well-intentioned – addressing important issues regarding gender and portraying the redemption of one of its characters. But in truth, The Good Liar is so-so and just missed being great.

Vince_review


So did you get to see THE GOOD LIAR? Let us know what you think!