She is known for, among other things, not being shy to shuck her clothes. Like Kate Winslet, she favors characters that are bold and ballsy - much like Mirren herself. Her most famous role to date is the Emmy award-winning DCI Jane Tennison in the long-running, critically acclaimed TV series Prime Suspect.
She is also noted for her exquisite taste in clothes. Everyone forgets this for most of the year, so come awards season the media has a collective asthma attack at how gorgeous her dresses are. Then they do it all again the next year.
She is the only actress in history to have portrayed both Queens Elizabeth - Elizabeth I in the miniseries Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II in The Queen and in the play The Audience. She won an Emmy for the former and an Oscar and a Tony Award for the latter, surprising absolutely nobody. She only needs one Grammy Award to complete her own EGOT (Even though she clearly can't sing, she can win one for this).
She is of Russian descent; her grandfather was a Tsarist aristocrat who was stranded in London after the Bolshevik Revolution. Her birth name is Mironoff, which her father anglicised to Mirren in the 1950s. While she does not speak Russian, she is fluent in French. Tania Mallet, who played Tilly Masterson in Goldfinger, was her cousin.
She is perhaps seen as attractive even in her golden years. In 2010's Love Ranch, she became the first major actress to appear nude on film in six different decades (and did a nude-in-the-bathtub photo shoot in New Yorker magazine alongside the film. At age 65!).
Has been married to American director Taylor Hackford since 1997.
Her more important roles include:
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)
- Age of Consent (1969)
- Caligula (1979)
- The Long Good Friday (1980)
- Excalibur (1981)
- 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)
- White Nights (1985)
- The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
- The Madness of King George (1994)
- The Prince of Egypt (voice) (1998)
- Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)
- Greenfingers (2000)
- Gosford Park (2001)
- Calendar Girls (2003)
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (voice) (2004)
- The Queen (2006)
- National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2007)
- State of Play (2009)
- The Tempest (2010)
- Red (2010)
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010) (voice)
- The Debt (2011)
- Arthur (2011)
- Monsters University (2013)
- Red 2 (2013)
- Trumbo (2015)
- Eye in the Sky (2016)
- Collateral Beauty (2016)
- The Fast and the Furious (2017 — present):
- The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
- Winchester (2018)
- Catherine the Great (2019)
Tropes associated with Helen Mirren:
- Ability over Appearance: Three times a character has been changed from a man to a woman so that Helen could star - Eye in the Sky, The Tempest (2010) and the 2011 remake of Arthur.
- Awesome, Dear Boy:
- She loved playing a machine-gun-wielding Action Girl in Red so much that she agreed to appear in any potential sequel immediately. There was a sequel, and she did star in it.
- Said that she'd love to do a film in The Fast and the Furious because it looks like so much fun. She got her wish and cameo'd in Fast 8.
- Beauty Inversion: She is dressed down considerably as the housekeeper Mrs Wilson Gosford Park.
- Best Known for the Fanservice:
- Age of Consent is known for her appearing topless as Norman Lindsey's model.
- Caligula likewise is remembered for her nudity. There's more than just hers, but she is the most famous of the actresses who appear nude.
- Calendar Girls too, although nudity is a huge plot point.
- Celebrity Voice Actor: The Prince of Egypt, Monsters University. She was also nearly in The Lion King.
- Dawson Casting:
- In her debut film Age of Consent she plays a teenager at the age of twenty-two.
- At 73 she played Catherine the Great, from age 44 to her death at 67.
- Dirty Old Woman: And she's awesome at it. Listen to her quick little dirty joke here.
- Fake American: Played with in Shadowboxer. She has an American accent, but Rose says "when I came to this country" - which suggests she is an English woman who has lost her accent over the years.
- Gender Flip: In Arthur (2011) and The Tempest (2010). Remarkably and coincidentally both roles were previously played by the same man, John Gielgud. Also remarkably and coincidentally, both films costar Russell Brand.
- Historical Beauty Upgrade: Catherine the Great was rather obese in her later life, but Helen Mirren remains perfectly slim throughout the miniseries.
- Ms. Fanservice: Starting with her first film, Age of Consent, in which she's naked a whole bunch. Continued to be this trope in many more films. She once said she's "known for getting my kit off."
- Non-Singing Voice: Her singing is dubbed in The Prince of Egypt.
- Poor Man's Substitute: It's something of a Running Gag to get Helen to fill in for HM The Queen when she's not around. She did a parody of the Queen's Christmas Day speech on Graham Norton.
- Reality Subtext:
- Her crying during Calendar Girls' funeral scenes came from the fact that she found out her brother had died of cancer.
- She was cast opposite Nicol Williamson in Excalibur because John Boorman knew they didn't like each other and thought their natural animosity would be perfect. Through working on the film they became good friends.
- Star-Making Role: She was already a respected stage actress but Excalibur proved to be this for her film career.
- Wag the Director: Her role in The Long Good Friday was initially a very thin and generic love interest role, and she credits co-star Bob Hoskins backing her up in her efforts to beef the part up in giving her the courage to stick with it and make sure they made it in.