Helen Mirren says gardening is good for curbing an actor’s ‘ego’: ‘It kind of cleans your brain’

The star also revealed how she and her husband Taylor Hackford share gardening duties

Kate Ng
Thursday 24 August 2023 14:09 BST
Dame Helen Mirren's collection of swears on TV

Helen Mirren has spoken candidly about why she enjoys spending time in her garden and how her hobby makes her “a better actor”.

The Good Liar star, 78, appears on the cover of the latest issue of luxury lifestyle magazine DuJour.

In the cover interview, Mirren described the outdoor activity as “meditative”, stating: “It’s a huge body of knowledge which I don’t have and I’m always trying to add to. The beauty of nature is so fantastic. It’s wonderful to watch something grow that you’ve taken a cutting of.”

Mirren revealed that when she and her husband, Taylor Hackford, garden at their home in Lake Tahoe, she takes care of “bushes and flowers” while he is more of a “tree person”.

“It’s a classic division of labour,” she said. “It’s amazing to see trees we’ve planted.”

The Queen star also explained why she thought gardening improves her acting skills.

“It kind of cleans your brain. You can’t have an ego with a garden,” she continued. “The f***ing plant just won’t grow where you want it to grow. It’s good for an actor to have the cobwebs and ego and insecurity go away for a little.”

The magazine’s September cover shows Mirren gazing directly at the reader, with her snow-white hair swept into a neat side parting.

She wears a black coat and dramatic feather scarf by Dolce and Gabbana, accessorised with Bulgari earrings.

The rest of the shoot, published in DuJour’s digital and physical magazine, also show Mirren dressed in labels including Jean Paul Gaultier, Erdem, Emilia Wickstead, Sandra Rhodes, Dior, and more.

Elsewhere in the interview, she also revealed how her 25-year marriage to Hackford has helped her feel more comfortable while filming.

Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren attends the "1923" LA Premiere Screening & After Party on December 02, 2022
Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren attends the "1923" LA Premiere Screening & After Party on December 02, 2022 (Getty Images for Paramount+)

“It’s put me very much on the director’s side, doing my absolute utmost to make the director’s life bearable and to fulfil my actor’s end of the bargain,” she said. “I have a much greater sense of patience.”

Mirren has been known to push back against stereotypes of ageing women. She has previously railed against the term “anti-ageing” in skincare.

In 2019, she told Grazia that her generation has been subjected to ageism for “far too long”, adding: “How can a product be ‘anti-ageing’? That’s like saying, ‘I’m anti-sun.’ Well, the sun is going to rise. ‘Well no, I’m anti-it’.”

She continued: “It’s extremely annoying to women of my generation and others following mine to have beauty products sold on a 15-year-old face.”

Recently, the Oscar-winner also pushed back against the stereotype that older women are supposed to keep their hair short.

Mirren said she started growing her hair during the Covid lockdown because she “couldn’t be bothered to cut it”.

During an appearance on Lorraine in March, she said: “You’re not supposed to have longer hair after a certain age.

“But during Covid, I started growing my hair and I hadn’t actually had long hair since I was in my twenties. And it sort of grew and grew and grew, and I couldn’t be bothered to cut it, basically.

“I thought, do you know what, it’s pretty cool, I think I’ll stick with it for a little while. It will come off eventually. But I’m kind of enjoying it, it’s quite radical.”

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