Dame Helen Mirren is one of the most high-profile and most sought-after actresses on the planet. Mirren has had a lengthy and very successful career on stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic. Dame Helen won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in the 2006 movie The Queen and has been nominated for numerous awards throughout her long career. In recent years, Mirren has become something of an unofficial spokesperson for those who believe that older women are overlooked for meaningful acting roles.
According to Economic Times Mirren told the Telegraph that there is “profound sexism” at play in Hollywood that prevents older women from landing better movie roles. It seems that Mirren has no issue with beautiful men and women winning acting roles, but she clearly believes that movie roles should be more representative of the wider population.
Helen says “I, as a cinemagoer, like to see beautiful faces up there it’s a pleasure. But there’s also story and entertainment, and one wants variety in that. You also want, as an audience member, to see people that you recognise and can identify with.”
At 70-years-old, Mirren is well placed to comment on the ageism and sexism that prevents some women from landing great roles. It seems, however, that Helen has decided to let age catch up with her in at least one way. Dame Helen may still look sensational, but according to the Telegraph, the multi-award winner has decided that she is “retiring” from doing nude scenes.
Mirren famously appeared nude in the 1979 movie Caligula, the only full-length movie made by mens magazine Penthouse. Dame Helen also appeared nude in the 2003 movie Calendar Girls and even more recently in a photoshoot for New York magazine back in 2011. According to Vanity Fair, Mirren says those days are now behind her.
In an interview with Alan Cumming for news network CBS, Mirren confirmed that she will no longer do nudity on screen and says that her “pleasure pillows,” as she calls her breasts, are now “purely for my husband.”
“That’s the good thing about getting older. You don’t have to do that sort of thing any more… [Now] my pleasure pillows are purely for my husband.”
According to the Telegraph, Mirren told Cumming that she had “never wanted” to do nude scenes but “it seemed to be not a thing to get your knickers in a twist over.” Mirren says that she has been doing nude scenes from “the first moment [she] started doing movies. Mirren says “it was the era.”
“When I was doing Caligula, it was ‘shock, horror!’ But now, with Game of Thrones, it’s on at 8pm and everything’s a sex scene.”
Mirren is famous for her sense of humor and her willingness to “give it a go.” Her announcement about not wishing to do any more nude scenes came during a discussion with Cumming about a famous Saturday Night Live sketch in which a succession of women join Mirren in her dressing room to ask if the can touch her “magical bosom.”
Mirren says that she found the sketch “flattering” and says that her reaction to the idea of the sketch was “total and immediate and incredibly positive.”
According to the Guardian, Dame Helen is not overly optimistic that the role of women on stage and screen will change anytime soon. Instead, Mirren believes that women’s roles in life have to change first.
“When roles for women in real life change, then you will see change in the film industry. If we happen to see a [female] president of the United States, and a world expert on marine biology comes on television and it’s a woman, or the female head of a petroleum company on the news.”
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images]