It’s the one thing everyone wants to know – does Dame Helen Mirren really look that good? The answer: a resounding yes. The actress, who turned 70 last July, is a total knockout.
I wish I’d told my younger self to be more confident. And just fiercer about what I wanted and what I didn’t want, especially in terms of sexual relationships and men in general. I put up with an awful lot. I don’t think girls would any more. It took me a long time to realise you don’t have to be polite.
Most people lack confidence. They create self-confident personas because they’re frightened of being themselves. I’m not confident with my body, but I did mentor the other actresses in Calendar Girls when we had to strip off. Because I’d done it so many times by then, I understood how they could be so nervous. We did it on different days, and as each of us did our scene, we had Champagne to celebrate.
On her looks
I’m not gorgeous, I never was. But I was OK-looking – and I’m keen to stay that way. I hate the word “beauty” because we’re not all beautiful. My whole life, I’ve had images of perfectly beautiful girls shoved at me of what I should aspire to. It’s great that finally the penny has dropped to use older models.
People get stuck in the way they looked in their late twenties and early thirties, and can’t find another way of looking great. They don’t know where to start and begin feeling invisible. Changing the way they look won’t make them feel more visible, but what does is if you feel better.
My exercise regime is erratic – I have no self-discipline. Sometimes I get into yoga, mostly I don’t; sometimes I get into going to the gym, mostly I don’t. Last year, I was settled in one place for six months, and went on quite a strict regime when I lost about five kilos. I had chopped, raw salads every day, didn’t drink too much and went to the gym two or three times a week.
I always think it’s OK as long as you do just a bit of exercise. You can do a lot just standing in a queue, for instance. You can just tense all your muscles and make sure you’re standing up straight for five minutes. It concentrates the core.
That hunger for looking forward, not looking back, keeps you young. The reality is that either you die young or you get old. There’s nothing in-between. And, well, I’m not going to die young now! I so want to see what’s coming next. So if the price I have to pay is getting older, then I’m happy to pay that price.
Older actresses should concentrate on changing the roles of women in real life because when their roles change, more acting roles will come along. I was 50 when I took on my role in Prime Suspect. There was some shock about having an older woman on TV, especially leading a TV series, but it caused a huge sigh of relief among professional women in as much as, “That is what I had to put up with because if I didn’t then I wouldn’t progress.” They were relieved to have their stories told.
On her style
When it comes to an instant confidence boost, a tall pair of fabulous high-heeled shoes can help. Shoes very often define how you feel. Not powerful so much, because you can’t walk or run, but you feel good.
I wouldn’t be seen dead in shorts. Only very secretly and privately, but never in public. I’ve just got terrible legs! I always did have terrible legs. I have those short soccer player’s legs. I would have been a good soccer player because I’m built like one from the waist down.
- Read more on Helen Mirren in our May issue, on-shelf now!