Helen Mirren has played Queen Elizabeth II not once, but twice. Once on the big screen in The Queen and now on stage in The Audience and she has done a brilliant job in both.
So much so that The Audience will be broadcast live from the London’s Gielgud Theatre to thousands of movie theater viewers around the world.
She has been recognized for both with an Oscar for her portrayal in The Queen and an Olivier Award for The Audience. But she says she was very resistant to reprise the role.
“I really didn’t want to play the role again,” Mirren said in an interview. She has made a point of not being typecast and this strayed away from that conviction.
Helen Mirren was won over by the outstanding team behind the production starting with director Stephen Daldry, stage designer Bob Crowley and playwright Peter Morgan, who wrote both The Queen and The Audience.
She says she really couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The mystery that is the Queen’s persona also attracted her to play the role. She is a public figure, but has an unknown side to her, Mirren adds.
In The Audience her weekly meetings with the British Prime Ministers are explored. Twelve ministers have served during the monarch’s six decade reign.
The live theater broadcasts began as an experiment, but have turned into a regular occurrence. The National Theatre launched its Live program four years ago with the production of Jean Racine’s “Phedre” starring, who else, Mirren.
These events have grown from 280 theaters to almost 700 venues in 25 different territories. The idea is to treat the performances as live sporting events, focusing in the interactions of a stage production.
The Audience will end its run on the West End on Saturday, but the actress says it might not be the last she sees of the Queen. There are plans to move the play to Broadway in the near future.
Dame Helen Mirren received the equivalent of a female knighthood in 2003 and is a beloved figure in the British entertainment world.