A few years ago Time magazine interviewed Helen Mirren for their 10 Questions feature.
We’re here today for Times 10 questions with Helen Mirren and so Helen, welcome, thanks for coming
Okay so as I was saying couple of readers would like to marry you, one of them wants to invite you.
You said five readers wanted to marry me.
Well, you know,
Were you exaggerating?
I might have been slightly, you know, nervous or something. There’s somebody who wants to invite you to tea. My favourite reader was the one who said that unlike most women who lose all sex appeal when they get old, you have not. Now that was a lovely question.
That can’t be a question, a compliment, isn’t it?
I guess so, yeah.
Really like for most women. I think most women do lose their so-called sex appeal. It just shifts into a different arena. I mean, there’s no question, you know, full on sex appeal is for the young, it is. It’s… that’s nature, anyway, you know. When they say sex appeal I don’t think they really mean sex. I don’t think they’re talking about something else. Some indefinable thing that is to do appreciation of life, appreciation of, you know, wisdom and all kinds of … there should be a special word for it. I don’t think sex is quite the right word, actually.
Do you think it’s important for celebrities and the like to contribute their two cents to political, ethical or economical problems?
I mean, I’ve used my voice as an actress with the media to publicise certain issues. I’ve been involved with Oxfam. The proliferation of these illegal sales of small arms throughout the world which is causing such devastations was one issue I am involved in quite deeply. The other was Uganda, the war in Northern Uganda. So yes, I think it’s an absolute legitimate way of using the fact that for some peculiar and incomprehensible reason the media are more prepared to talk to me about Uganda than a journalist who’s lived in Uganda, an investigative journalist who has lived in Uganda for five years, but we do have a kind of an access and I think it is a legitimate use. Yes.
One of the readers has noticed the tattoo on your hand and would like to know what it is and why you got it.
Did you read my book?
I’ll have to read your book, to buy your book. Good answer, good answer.
Well the short answers I got drunk and now I do, I got drunk on an Indian reservation in Minnesota when I was working with Peter Brook.
And so it’s an Indian…?
It’s a, well, it’s a South American Indian sign. Yeah, yes.
Another reader would like to know what your favourite vegetable is.
My favourites are potatoes.
I do love potatoes.
Do you have any affinity with your father’s Russian heritage, or any interest in a kind of political climate there?
Yes, I have a great interest in the political climate in Russia. I was there not long ago and to my goodness, that’s a complicated place. But yes, of course, I mean, when I go to Russia I’ve realized I look Russian, you know. People have come up and speak to me in Russian. They assume that I’m Russian. I mean, growing up as an immigrant and especially in the situation that I was at home where we were very much encouraged to forget our Russian heritage as children, I, I didn’t, you know, make a thing about it but I’ve always felt, of course, I am, I am genetically, I’m half Russian, so of course, there is an affinity there.
If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?
I’d go to England and I’d find a little green corner of England with a river running through it and a tree to sit under. And I’d just sit there for the afternoon with a book and a pillow to go to sleep on.
Delphine Harris of Washington, DC asks which director or director did you learn the most from and why?
The truth is you learn a different thing from all of them. I think the best bit of advice I was ever given about film acting came from an American actor and producer and director called Bob Balaban. He said you don’t know where the arrow is going to land, the arrow of your performance, of your… of the take, of that moment. You have no idea and I had found out that to be true that you knew intensely, intensely trying emotionally express, you know, the pain of loss, of whatever, you know, of whatever you’re trying to do and then what’s on the screen is something completely different, not what you intended to at all. You’re, where did that come from? I didn’t do that. I was doing that. And that came out and that can drive you crazy as an actor. So he taught me, he just said, let the arrow land where it will. Throw it up there, do it as instinctively and as truthfully as possible but then let it go where it goes and let go of it and let go of it. Don’t talk to yourself when you go home at night. And that was great advice and I’ve absolutely followed that. It kind of liberated me, you know what, just let it happen and then let it land where it will.