According to Helen Mirren, “I was never young and pretty. Well, never pretty, anyway.”
Of course, you’ll find many who disagree with her who tell you that not only was Mirren pretty, but that at 66 years old she remains not only beautiful but one of the most respected actresses in the industry. Still, Mirren argues in an interview with NJ.com that her looks prevented her from achieving early success. She claims, “That I wasn’t pretty was part of the problem when I started. People couldn’t quite get a handle on me. … But also, when you’re in your 20s — well, you’re a bit of an undercooked soup, aren’t you? You’re not quite ready. You need to simmer for a few years.” Because of that, Mirren believes she missed out on some roles that she truly would’ve have liked to play, including one of the theater’s most iconic roles for a young woman, confessing, “I never got to play Juliet. And that continues to be a source of sadness. But when I was young enough to do it, no one was mounting a production, or if they were, they certainly weren’t casting me … It’s all a terrible crapshoot, especially with the classical roles. If you’re not the right age, at the right time, they can pass you by.” As Mirren has achieved major success in the last decade — winning an Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006’s The Queen — Mirren has recently, and surprisingly, has taken on action roles like in Red — something normally out of the box for a 66 year old woman. She’ll continue that trend by appearing in The Debt as a retired Israeli spy. Why is Mirren attracted to more action-oriented roles lately? She explains, “It’s always more fun to play a noisy, extroverted character, and that takes a lot of energy, but this kind of reserved, secretive character is no less demanding. The energy is hidden in the intensity.”
So does Mirren has some secret fantasies about herself as a secret agent? Not particularly, as she says, “I’m not the sort of actress who identifies with every role, but I do bring a part of myself to them.” So perhaps there is something quite dangerous sizzling beneath the surface.