Helen Mirren - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: British. Born: Ilynea Lydia Mironoff in London, England, 26 July 1945. Education: Attended St. Bernard's Convent, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex; also attended teacher training college in North London. Family: Married producer-director Taylor Hackford, 1997. Career: 1963–64—member National Youth Theatre; 1967—member Manchester Repertory Theatre; 1967–71, 1974–75, 1977–78, 1982—member Royal Shakespeare Company; 1967—film debut in Herostratus ; 1972—attended Peter Brook's International Centre of Theatre Research in Paris; in TV mini-series Cousin Bette ; 1972–73—toured Africa and the United States with Peter Brook's company; 1991–96—starring role in "Prime Suspect" series of TV productions, including the mini-series Prime Suspect , 1991, Prime Suspect 2 , 1992, and Prime Suspect 3 , 1994, the TV movies Prime Suspect: The Lost Child , 1995, and Prime Suspect: Inner Circles , 1996; 1992—Los Angeles stage debut in Woman in Mind ; 1995—Broadway debut in A Month in the Country . Awards: Best Actress Award, Cannes Film Festival, and Best Actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for Cal , 1984; Best Actress Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for Prime Suspect , 1991, 1992, 1993; Best Actress Award, Cannes Film Festival, for The Madness of King George , 1995. Agent: Ken McReddie Ltd., 91 Regent Street, London W1R 7TB, England. Address: c/o ICM, 8942 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


Herostratus (Don Levy)


A Midsummer Night's Dream (Peter Hall) (as Hermia)


Age of Consent (Michael Powell) (as Cora Ryan)


Savage Messiah (Ken Russell) (as Gosh Smith-Boyle); Miss Julie (Phillips and Glenister) (title role)


O Lucky Man! (Lindsay Anderson) (as Patricia)


Hamlet (Coronado)


As You Like It (Basil Coleman—for TV) (as Rosalind); The Collection (for TV)


S.O.S. Titanic (William Hale—for TV) (as Stewardess May Sloan); Blue Remembered Hills (Brian Gibson—for TV)


Caligula (Brass—produced in 1977) (as Cesonia); Hussy (Chapman) (as Beaty Simons); The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (Haggard) (as Alice Rage); The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie) (as Victoria)


Excalibur (Boorman) (as Morgana); Priest of Love (Christopher Miles); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Moshinsky—for TV) (as Titania)


Cymbeline (Moshinsky—for TV) (as Imogen)


Cal (O'Connor) (as Marcella Morton); 2010 (Hyams) (as Tanya Kirbuk); The Little Mermaid (Iscove—for TV)

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren


White Nights (Hackford) (as Galina Ivanova); The Gospel According to Vic ( Heavenly Pursuits ) (Gormley) (as Ruth Chancellor); Coming Through (Barber-Fleming—for TV) (as Frieda von Richtofer Weekly)


The Mosquito Coast (Weir) (as Mother)


Invocation: Maya Deren (doc) (as narrator); Cause Celebre (Gorrie—for TV) (as Alma Rattenbury)


Pascali's Island (Dearden) (as Lydia Neuman)


When the Whales Came (Rees) (as Clemmie Jenkins); The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Greenaway) (as Georgina Spica, the Wife); Red Knight, White Knight (Geoff Murphy—for TV) (as Anna)


Bethune: The Making of a Hero ( Dr. Bethune ) (Borsos—released in U.S. in 1993) (as Frances Penny Bethune)


The Comfort of Strangers (Schrader) (as Caroline); Where Angels Fear to Tread (Sturridge) (as Lilia Herriton); People of the Forest: The Chimps of Gombe (TV doc) (as narrator)


The Hawk (Hayman) (as Annie Marsh)


Prince of Jutland (Axel) (as Queen Geruth); The Madness of King George (Hytner) (as Queen Charlotte)


Prime Suspect: The Lost Child (John Madden—for TV) (as Supt. Jane Tennison)


Prime Suspect: Inner Circles (Sarah Pia Anderson—for TV) (as Supt. Jane Tennison); Losing Chase (Kevin Bacon); Some Mother's Son (Terry George) (as Kathleen Quigley + assoc. pr); Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgment (Philip Davis—mini for TV) (as Supt. Jane Tennison)


Critical Care (Lumet) (as Stella); Painted Lady (Jarrold—mini for TV) (as Maggie Sheridan + assoc. pr)


Sidoglio Smithee (Molina) (as herself)


Teaching Mrs. Tingle (Williamson) (as Mrs. Tingle); Prime Suspect (as DCI Jane Tennison); The Passion of Ayn Rand (Menaul) (as Ayn Rand); Green Fingers (Hershman)


By MIRREN: articles—

Interview with James Saynor, in Interview (New York), January 1993.

Interview with Amy Rennert, in New Orleans Magazine , April 1994.

On MIRREN: book—

Rennert, Amy, ed., Helen Mirren: Prime Suspect: A Celebration , San Francisco, 1995.

On MIRREN: articles—

Hauptfuhrer, Fred, "She Played Caligula's Wife and Fu Manchu's Girlfriend, but Helen Mirren Is Fiercest of All in the Flesh," in People (New York), 3 November 1980.

Edwardes, Jane, "Mirren Image," in Time Out (London), 11 January 1989.

Sanderson, Mark, "Two-Way Mirren," in Time Out (London), 12 June 1991.

Taubin, Amy, "Misogyny, She Wrote," in Village Voice (New York), 28 January 1992.

Wolcott, James, "Columbo in Furs," in New Yorker , 25 January 1993.

"Mirren Image," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), February 1993.

Grimes, William, "Detective Tennison Returns to PBS, Still in Charge but Now in Command," in New York Times , 2 February 1993.

Fallon, James, "Helen's Prime Time," in W (New York), May 1994.

Hitchens, Christopher, "Mirren and Middlemarch ," in Vanity Fair (New York), May 1994.

Ansen, David, "The Prime of Helen Mirren," in Newsweek (New York), 16 May 1994.

Current Biography 1995 , New York, 1995.

Weinraub, Bernard, "Uninhibited, Opinionated, It Must Be Helen Mirren," in New York Times , 23 April 1995.

Wolcott, James, "Helen Mirren," in New Yorker , 24 April 1995.

Premier (Boulder), January 1997.

* * *

Helen Mirren's career has been a remarkable blend of prestige and trashy roles, befitting an actress who has enjoyed long-term membership in the Royal Shakespeare Company and highly publicized exposés of her Bohemian lifestyle and romantic involvements with, most notably, Liam Neeson and Taylor Hackford (with whom Mirren has lived in Los Angeles since the mid-1980s). In the 1970s, she was know as "the Sex Bomb of the RSC," once quoted as proudly proclaiming, "I like sex; I'm extremely sensual." In her first major screen role, in Michael Powell's Australian feature, Age of Consent , she snorkeled nude along the Great Barrier Reef. She was provocatively naked in Ken Russell's Savage Messiah , and on stage in the 1971 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Jean Genet's The Balcony . Mirren was at ease, and superb, in Shakespearian roles, including Hermia and Titania in 1968 (film) and 1982 (stage) productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream , Lady Macbeth on stage in 1974, and Rosalind in the BBC's As Your Like It . At the same time, she enjoyed shocking the critics and her fans by performing in Gore Vidal's Caligula , but not, as she points out, "in the naughty bits."

Splendid as she was as Queen Charlotte, opposite Nigel Hawthorne, in the film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play, The Madness of George III , it is in the medium of television in recent years that Helen Mirren has garnered most praise and an international following. She first attracted the attention of American audiences in 1987 in Anglia Television's adaptation of Terence Rattigan's Cause Celebre , playing the real-life Alma Rattenbury, who, in 1935, took her 18-year-old chauffeur as her lover and encouraged him to murder her husband. From that performance as a lonely and confused middle-aged woman, Mirren moved on to an entirely different role, that of Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in Lynda La Plante's Prime Suspect . Here, Mirren is cast as the highest ranking policewoman in the United Kingdom, fighting both sexism and the intrusion of her private life. Mirren's characterization is of a strong woman, plagued by self doubts and one whose place in the system forces her to display an unpleasant edge. Thanks to Alma Rattenbury and Jane Tennison, Mirren has become, in the words of James Wolcott in the New Yorker , "the heiress to Glenda Jackson as the queen of the quality miniseries."

From a major British stage performer of the 1970s, Helen Mirren graduated to secondary film roles in the 1980s and starring television performances in the late 1980s and 1990s. In middle age, the actress gives little indication as to what the future holds. The prurient will note that her body, as well displayed as it was in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover , shows no signs of aging, while her facial features have developed from a somewhat vacuous expression to those of a woman who has obviously enjoyed a very interesting life and whose few lines are suggestive of an intellectual interior rather than the aging process.

—Anthony Slide

User Contributions:

Nicholas Jacobs
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 12, 2009 @ 4:04 am
Having seen Helen Mirren's magnificent Phèdre, I wonder if she would consider the part of Iphigenia in

Goethe's 'Iphigenia in Tauris'. There are one or two good translations. One by David Luke was

performed on Radio 3 in 1986 (dir. John Theocaris). This wonderful, healing play is one of the greatest

in the European canon, yet is seldom put on in the UK. Ms Mirren is made for the part.

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