Helen Mirren is an English actor. Mirren began her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967, and is one of the few performers who have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting, having won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2007, after two previous nominations, for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. She received an Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2013 for her West End performance in The Audience, in which she also portrayed Elizabeth II, and in 2015 she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her Broadway performance in the play. The Audience was written by Peter Morgan, who also wrote The Queen.
Mirren won three consecutive BAFTA Awards for Best Actress between 1992 and 1994 and her first of several Emmy Awards in 1996 for her performance as police detective Jane Tennison on the British television series Prime Suspect, which ran for seven seasons between 1991 and 2006.
Let’s find out amazing facts about her!
1. Dame Helen Lydia Mirren DBE (née Mironoff) was born 26 July 1945 in London.
2. She is the daughter of Kathleen “Kitty” Alexandrina Eva Matilda and Vasily Petrovich Mironoff.
3. Her mother was English and Romani and her father was Russian, originally from Kuryanovo, Smolensk Oblast.
4. 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 England.
5. His son, Helen Mirren’s father, anglicised the family name to Mirren in the 1950s and changed his name to Basil Mirren.
6. 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.
7. 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 own father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria.
8. Mirren considers her upbringing to have been “very anti-monarchist”.
9. Mirren was the second of three children; she was born three years after her older sister Katherine (“Kate”; born 1942), and had a younger brother Peter Basil (1948–2002).
10. Mirren was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
11. Mirren attended Hamlet Court primary school Westcliff-on-Sea, where she had the lead role in a school production of Hansel and Gretel and St Bernard’s High School for Girls in Southend-on-Sea, where she also acted in school productions.
12. She then attended 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.
13. Aged eighteen, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre (NYT) 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.
14. By age 20, however, Mirren was starring as Cleopatra in the 1965 production of Antony and Cleopatra. Her performance as the Egyptian leader landed her an agent, as well as a place with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
15. She used to work in Southend on Sea; Essex; UK at an amusement park “The Kursaal” as a “blagger” to attract customers on to rides.
Helen Mirren appeared in Caligula (1980), which also starred Malcolm MacDowell and Peter O’Toole. The film, controversial for its strong violence and explicit sex scenes, had a self-imposed X rating.
16. Mirren stated she had been date raped as a student and had often taken cocaine at parties in her 20s, and until the 1980s.
17. Mirren is a strong believer in karma – what goes around will come around so be weary of how you are to others.
18. Mirren dated actor Liam Neeson in 1980 whom she met on the set of Excalibur (1981). During an interviewed with James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson said she was instrumental in his getting an agent.
19. In 1992, Mirren landed her breakthrough TV role as Detective Inspector Jane Tennison in the public television mystery series, Prime Suspect.
20. By the time the show came to an end in 2006, Mirren had received five BAFTA Awards and several Emmy award nominations for her performance on the show, including a win in 1996 for Outstanding Lead Actress.
21. Made her directorial debut by helming the “Happy Birthday” segment of the 2001 TV-movie On the Edge.
Mirren continue to pursue her page for theater and received a Tony award nomination her role in 1995’s A Month in the Country, and again in 2002 for Dance of Death, co-starring Sir Ian McKellen.
22. She allegedly refused the C.B.E. (Commander of Order of the British Empire) in 1996.
23. Mirren had publicly vowed never to marry. She finally succumbed and wed Taylor Hackford, the director, in 1997.
24. Though it was not her most critically-acclaimed movie, her favorite role was in ‘Teaching Mrs. Tingle”, the 1999 film in which she played the evil history teacher.
25. In the 2002 TV-movie Door to Door, she played William H. Macy’s mother even though he’s only five years her junior.
26. She was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.
27. She became an Associate Member of RADA.
28. She played a brothel madam in Love Ranch, a film directed by husband Taylor Hackford.
29. Helen Mirren has served as an ambassador for the human rights organization Oxfam.
30. She called her Prime Suspect role “the biggest break of my career.”
31. Mirren lived with actor Liam Neeson during the early 1980s. They had met while working on Excalibur (1981). Interviewed by James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson said she was instrumental in his getting an agent.
32. 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.
33. 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.”
34. Mirren’s autobiography, In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures, was published in the UK by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in September 2007.
35. Reviewing for The Stage, John Thaxter wrote: “Sumptuously illustrated, at first sight it looks like another of those photo albums of the stars. But between the pictures there are almost 200 pages of densely printed text, an unusually frank story of her private and professional life, mainly in the theatre, the words clearly Mirren’s own, delivered with forthright candour.”
36. In 1990, Mirren stated in an interview that she is an atheist.
37. In the August 2011 issue of Esquire magazine, Mirren said, “I am quite spiritual. I believed in fairies when I was a child. I still do sort of believe in the fairies. And the leprechauns. But I don’t believe in God.”
38. In a GQ interview in 2008, Mirren stated she had been date raped as a student and had often taken cocaine at parties in her 20s, and until the 1980s.
39. She stopped using the drug after reading the (debunked) tabloid tale that Klaus Barbie made a living from cocaine dealing.
40. On 11 May 2010, Mirren attended the unveiling of her waxwork at Madame Tussauds London. The figure reportedly cost £150,000 to make and took four months to complete.
41. In 2012, Mirren was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires.
42. In 2013, Mirren was announced as one of several new models for Marks & Spencer’s ‘Womanism’ campaign. Subtitled “Britain’s leading ladies”, the campaign saw Mirren appear alongside British women from various fields, including pop singer Ellie Goulding, double Olympic gold medal winning boxer Nicola Adams, and writer Monica Ali.
43. Mirren was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian in March 2013.
44. She is quoted as being a naturist, telling the Radio Times “I’m a naturist at heart. I love being on beaches where everyone is naked. Ugly people, beautiful people, old people, whatever. It’s so unisexual and so liberating.”
45. In 2004, she was named “Naturist of the Year” by British Naturism. She said: “Many thanks to British Naturism for this great honour. I do believe in naturism and am my happiest on a nude beach with people of all ages and races!