Helen Mirren on loving acting, gardening, not fearing aging

Updated February 10, 2018 - 9:17 pm

She’s played a gun-toting hit woman, a teacher from hell and, of course, Queen Elizabeth II. Dame Helen Mirren says that no matter the role, she has a sure-fire way to wind down from all that emoting. “I love to watch those home improvement shows. I used to love to watch ‘The Martha Stewart Show.’ I’d sit there with a note paper thinking to myself, ‘Oh, that’s how you clean windows.’

“It’s such lovely domestic information and I love it,” Mirren says. “I was actually on her show once and we repotted something.”

And yes, she won an Oscar in 2007 for “The Queen,” but Mirren adds, “To repot with Martha was also a dream come true.”

These days, Mirren has home on the mind in the supernatural horror film “Winchester” where she plays the eccentric firearm heiress who builds a fortress-style house with fake walls and endless passages because she believes that her home is haunted by the souls of the people killed by the Winchester rifle.

Review-Journal: How do you like to spend a free Sunday?

Helen Mirren: I love being able to have a lazy day with my wonderful husband (director Taylor Hackford) and friends. We’ll make breakfast and take a long walk. You keep moving. That’s the key. Then I love to spend time in my garden. If I have a few free hours, I love to dig around in the dirt. It’s so calming and worthwhile.

What sparked your interest in playing Sarah Winchester, whose ultra-strange house in San Jose is a tourist attraction?

I had never heard of the house or Sarah Winchester before this script came to me. It was truly an extraordinary story. The challenge was she was a mysterious woman. We do know that she lost her beloved husband and a baby at a very young age. She married for love and suddenly it was all gone. She was left a very isolated woman in 1881. She had a fortune and built this strange Victorian mansion with so many oddities. Doors and stairways went nowhere. Some feel she was haunted by the people who died from the guns. Perhaps she felt as if she had to pay a price.

You also star in the spring film “The Leisure Seeker” opposite Donald Sutherland. It’s the story of a couple who take the family RV on a last road trip to Key West. What resonated with this one?

This couple has gone through having the family. The kids are grown. Even the grandkids are grown. They’re both struggling with physical ailments and decide to take their final road trip in their very first RV from the 1970s. It’s the ultimate bucket list moment for the two of them. It’s actually about the pursuit of dignity.

Was it hard to be cooped up in an RV?

(Laughs) I’ve spent almost my whole life in a trailer as an actor. I love the idea of making a cup of tea in your car.

Is it true that early on in your career you went to a fortune teller?

I was 22 when a palm reader told me that my greatest success would be after age 40. At the time, I thought this was terrible news. I thought, “Great, I’ll be a success, but I can’t wait that long! I want it now!” That’s a very British thing.

What sparked your interest in acting?

When I was young in England, we couldn’t afford cinema or theater. I didn’t have much early exposure to art. We didn’t have a TV. I do remember being taken by my mum to see an amateur production of “Hamlet” when I was 14. It was a wonderful time to be introduced to Shakespeare because at that age you’re so full of dreams and desires. I was like a sponge. I went home and started reading the works of Shakespeare. It pulled me into a world of imagination. I felt drawn to it. I couldn’t resist it. I wanted to be a great theater actress because I could be in Camelot. I could be a sniper outside a house in the snow. I could be in the Russia of my grandparents’ photographs. It was fantastic because I grew up in a small town in England and I loved the escape of it all.

You won CinemaCon’s Career Achievement Award in Vegas a few years ago.

It was quite thrilling and an honor for me to come to Vegas and receive that award. I never imagined that I would be in exciting Las Vegas being honored. Your mind flashes to that little girl who just wanted to be on stage in England and now was receiving this award in America. I received it with great pleasure. It also made me reflect on all the roles. It has been an amazing career and I want it to continue.

You have such a healthy view of aging. What’s your secret?

I think there has been a sea change in people’s attitudes about aging and a change in perception. An awful lot of people look and feel fabulous into their 60s, 70s and 80s. We should be encouraged and applauded for our ages. I embrace my age because there is no point in drawing a veil over the reality of life. I accept the absolute reality of what is happening to me as the years pass. The reality is if you’re very fortunate, you do live long and get older.

You look so amazing, but always say you have no set fitness routine.

I’m far from being a traditional workout person. I have feet of clay and knees and a bottom of clay just like anyone else. The truth is I don’t work out all the time. I try to take care of myself, move and eat right. I work out when I can. I’ve been blessed with great genes.

Several years ago ­— but not that many — there was a famous picture of you in a red bikini snapped by the paparazzi. Bravo!

That was just me posing for a picture for my husband when we were on vacation. The paparazzi happened to be nearby and caught me at the exact right time. Thank goodness!

And finally, you have a great Super Bowl story. Please tell us.

Once when my husband was making a film, it was Super Bowl Sunday. Taylor set up a TV in another room, so the crew could watch football between takes. Eventually, Taylor came to the end of the shoot that evening and found that most of the crew was in the TV room watching “Age of Consent” (1969). There was me … naked. On the screen. Nudity on film. It always comes back to bite you in the bum!

Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like