Helen Mirren on Winning an Oscar: “It’s an indescribable moment”


It’s hard to say, because you don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t won” – Helen Mirren When Asked If Winning an Oscar Changed Her Career

Each of the four acting Oscar winners at this year’s Academy Awards were first-time winners, so none of them really knew what to expect when they heard their name called at the Dolby Theatre. Hopefully, Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, and JK Simmons had the opportunity to read the Variety interview in which Helen Mirren, who won the Best Actress Oscar in 2007 for her role in The Queen, spoke about what it was like the night she won her Oscar.

Mirren admits that she sat in her seat partially dreading that her name would be called. She recalls, “It’s an indescribable moment. Part of you is terrified they will call your name because the fear of making a fool of yourself is paramount. But then it’s this incredible pleasure, to sort of feel like you haven’t been found out — because as actors, we always think we’re going to be discovered as frauds. It’s joyous, it’s thrilling and there’s a little bit of guilt.”

What she means by “guilt” is that art is subjective. She clarifies, “It’s not a race. It’s very clear in a sprint or a marathon who’s best. But you can never say who is best at acting or painting or writing. You’re all just as good, not only as the people nominated, but a whole community of people who did amazing work and weren’t nominated.

If being onstage isn’t exhilarating enough, the rush continues backstage. Mirren recalls, “When you win, you get rushed around backstage, and you always seem to be walking through a kitchen where people are doing real work. And everyone stops to say congratulations. It’s this wonderfully sweet, communal thing where everyone gets into the excitement.

While Mirren knows that being an Oscar winner has changed her career, she isn’t sure just how much. She says, “It’s hard to say, because you don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t won. It’s a bit like becoming a Dame of the British Empire; once you win the Oscar, it becomes attached to your name. You’re ‘Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren.’ So yes, undoubtedly it raised my profile.”

About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

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