Is there anyone cooler than Helen Mirren?
Recently, a friend of mine shared this Vanity Fair piece where Helen Mirren responds to the Proust Questionnaire. In it she responds to revealing personality questions and says lots of interesting and down-to-earth stuff. Apparently the thing she values most in her friends is “their ability to open a bottle of wine”. (I might just have a shot!)
Of course I am a great admirer of her body of work in a wide range of film roles primarily playing smart, strong, confident women. Her role as DCI Jane Tennison in the hard-nosed gritty British crime drama Prime Suspect earned her multiple BAFTA TV acting awards. And she was nominated for Supporting Actress twice (The Madness of King George, 1994; Gosford Park, 2001) before winning the Best Actress trophy in 2006 for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen.
She also has a wonderfully dark and twisty sense of humour that reveals itself in the Red movies and her turn as the deliciously evil title character in the thriller/comedy Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Never hesitant to poke fun of herself or at Hollywood, she’s done some brilliant sketches on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, SNL, and Funny or Die. Check her out in this darkly funny spoof with Billy Crystal pitching When Harry Met Sally 2.
She’s also a favourite of mine in light, charming comedic roles (if you haven’t seen Greenfingers or Calendar Girls, you should).
Yes, Helen Mirren’s coolness could simply be attributed to her seemingly limitless gifts and talents in the professional sphere. But she is so much more. A consummate example of humility and compassion, Helen (who was “Damed” in 2003) recently donned her Queen Elizabeth persona to fulfill a dying boy’s wish. Apparently 10-year Oliver Burton wanted to meet the real Queen who was unavailable, so then it was “Queen Helen” to the rescue.
Humble and authoritative in equal measure, she is passionately outspoken about gender influences in the entertainment industry. Critical of the lack of roles for older women in Hollywood, she gives a thoughtful, genuine speech about working in the “really blokey world” of film when receiving her recent Empire Award.
I could listen to her talk all day. And how refreshing and reassuring is it that she looks so fantastic? All the more so because she resists industry pressure to surgically correct for aging. Helen Mirren is the real deal.
Yes, Dame Helen, I think we would be great friends. So if you are in the market for a bestie in small-town Nova Scotia, please ring me. It’ll be “lovely”. And I promise you there will be wine. Oh yes, there will be wine…