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.
She is perhaps the greatest example of Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have! known to man (although ironically she's never had any kids and has, by her own admission, no maternal instincts whatsoever). 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 films 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)
- 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)
- 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 Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
- Winchester (2018)
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:
- 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.
- Cool Old Lady: At 67, she decided, on a whim, to dye her hair pink, after seeing a contestant on America's Next Top Model with it.
- Dawson Casting: In her debut film Age of Consent she plays a teenager at the age of twenty-two.
- Dirty Old Woman: And she's awesome at it. Listen to the quick little dirty joke she said 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.
- The High Queen: She has played six queens in her time, and is the only actress to play both Queen Elizabeth I and II. Ironically in Excalibur she played Morgana - who is the exact opposite. She did play a princess in Faerie Tale Theatre though.
- 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.
- Old Shame: Averted! Seemingly born with none. She isn't even ashamed of Caligula - describing it as an "irresistible mix of art and genitals."
- 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.
- Silver Fox: She just doesn't look right when her hair ISN'T silver colored...
- Star-Making Role: She was already a respected stage actress but Excalibur proved to be this for her film career.