Playing the Queen may have won Dame Helen Mirren an Oscar and an Olivier award, but she revealed she is struggling to “wriggle out” of the regal mantle. Only a rewrite at her request meant the acclaimed actress did not have to imitate Elizabeth II in her latest film, a big budget American action movie.
Red 2, in which she reprises the character of a sharpshooting assassin, includes a scene in which her character pretends to be delusional in order to gain access to an asylum.
“The writers thought it was very funny, of course, that I would pretend to be the Queen,” she said. “I suggested it should be Elizabeth I, I thought that would be a funnier take than the present Queen.”
When asked if she was now contracted to have at least one “regal moment” per movie, Dame Helen said: “I so tried to wriggle out of that particular mantle.”
The original Red, which also stars Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker, was a box office hit, taking almost $200 million worldwide.
Dame Helen feared that people would think she had “sold out” in signing up for an action movie. “Then I realised how utterly stupid that idea was and what an incredible opportunity it would be to do something I had never done before.
“I loved every minute,” she added, “This came after The Queen, and it was brilliant to jump in the opposite direction, but pure luck I was asked to do it.”
Dame Helen won an Academy Award for best actress in 2005 for her portrayal of the monarch in the Stephen Frears film.
She reprised the role for the stage last year in The Audience in London’s West End. The play, which revolved around the private meetings between the Queen and a series of prime ministers, brought her the Olivier Award earlier this year.
Dame Helen has also played Queen Elizabeth I in a two-part television miniseries, winning her an Emmy and a Golden Globe for best actress.
Today’s publicity event saw Dame Helen, Willis and Parker quizzed on a boat headed down the Thames, passing some of the locations used in the film.
When asked about the imminent arrival of the Royal baby, the actress said she would prefer “another Queen. I think that would be great. We need more Queens.”
She sympathised with the Duchess of Cambridge, saying: “That’s weird isn’t it, everyone knowing you’re in labour. That must be so uncomfortable.”Reuse content