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Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren, DBE (born 26 July 1945)

An English actress; she has won an Academy Award, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and four Emmy Awards during her career.

She was born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov was of Russian origin, and her mother, Kathleen was English. Mirrenís paternal grandfather, Pyotr Vassilievich Mironov, a Russian nobleman, tsarist colonel and diplomat, was negotiating an arms deal in Britain and was stranded there, along with his family, during the Russian Revolution. Her father called himself Basil and changed the family name to Mirren in the 1950s.

Helen attended a Catholic girlsí school, St Bernardís High School for Girls, in Southend-on-Sea, where she acted in school productions, and subsequently a teaching college, the New College of Speech and Drama in London. At age eighteen, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and was accepted. By age 20, she was Cleopatra in the NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic, which led to her signing with the agent Al Parker. Her work for the NYT also led to her joining the Royal Shakespeare Company.

She played Lady Macbeth at Stratford in 1974 and at the Aldwych Theatre in 1975. Over the years she has appeared in numerous stage productions and received frequently receiving critical acclaim.

In 1981 she returned to the Royal Court for the London premiere of Brian Frielís Faith Healer. In the same year she also received acclaim for her performance in the title role of John Websterís The Duchess of Malfi, a production of Manchesterís Royal Exchange Theatre which transferred to the The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London.

After a relatively barren sojourn in the Hollywood Hills, she returned to England at the beginning of 1989 to co-star with Bob Peck at the Young Vic in the London premiere of the Arthur Miller double-bill, Two Way Mirror.

A stage career breakthrough came in 1994, in an Yvonne Arnaud Theatre production bound for the West End, when Bill Bryden cast her as Natalya Petrovna in Ivan Turgenevís A Month in the Country.

At the National Theatre in November 2003 she again won praise playing Christine Mannon.

Helen has also appeared in a large number of films throughout her career. Some of her earlier film roles include O Lucky Man!, Caligula, Excalibur, 2010, The Long Good Friday, White Nights and The Mosquito Coast. Her favourite film is Teaching Mrs. Tingle, in which she plays sadistic History teacher, Mrs Eve Tingle.

Helen continued her successful film career when she starred more recently in Gosford Park with Maggie Smith and Calendar Girls. Other more recent appearances include The Clearing, Pride, Raising Helen, and Shadowboxer.

During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series: Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), and Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, in The Madness of King George (1994). She is the only actress ever to have portrayed both Queens Elizabeth on the screen.

Helenís title role of The Queen earned her numerous acting awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, among many others. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, she praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign as Queen.

Dame Helen is well-known for her role as detective Jane Tennison in the widely-viewed Prime Suspect, a multiple award winning television drama. The role of Tennison won her three consecutive BAFTA awards for Best Actress between 1992 to 1994.

Helen has frequently appeared nude on film as far back as her debut film Age of Consent, and was over 50 when she appeared nude in the film Calendar Girls and on the cover of the Radio Times 5-11 October issue in 1996.

Helen married American director Taylor Hackford (her partner since 1986), in the Scottish Highlands on 31 December 1997. It was her first marriage, and his third (he has two children from his previous marriage). Helen has no children and says she has "no maternal instinct whatsoever."

Helenís autobiography, In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures, was published in the UK in September 2007.


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