BBC World News Banner
BBC Home BBC News BBC Sport BBC TV BBC Radio BBC Weather BBC Languages
Advertise with Us
Advertise with Us
Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II
Helen Mirren
It had been widely predicted that Helen Mirren would be nominated for her performance in 'The Queen'. She's been up for Oscars twice before, for supporting roles in 'The Madness of King George' and 'Gosford Park', but this time she's received a Best Actress nomination.
When we spoke to her back in October, she was not all that bothered about receiving a nomination.

"I'm not going to go down that road, its not, it a pointless road," she told us. "Of course you want people to watch your film, and nominations are a great tool for getting people into the cinema."

'The Queen' is set in the days following the death of Princess Diana in 1997. The country was immersed in grief and the royal family was seen as unfeeling. They remained within their own cloistered world in Balmoral, and their aloofness prompted anger towards the Queen and some people believed a constitutional crisis was imminent.

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II
The film contains some news footage, but the film is basically a fictional dramatization. Director Stephen Frears has put together a very compelling, intimate look behind the public face of possibly the best known woman in the world. Much of the film focuses on the Queen's relationship with Tony Blair. He is seen as a modernizer, the Queen a traditionalist.

The picture has authenticity, and that's very much due to the outstanding performance from Helen Mirren, whose technique is flawless. Nonetheless s,he found playing a living monarch a pretty daunting challenge.

"Oh God, where do I start? I'm not a great impersonator, and I've never been very good at accents or anything, or doing people's voices. So the pure impersonation of it was very intimidating to me because you have to get that right - that voice is so familiar.

The other thing is that voice has actually been parodied so often, everybody's parodied the Queen's voice, so to do it in a way that doesn't sound like a parody was the next problem."

Mirren knew she had nailed the part when she got the queen's walk right.

"It suddenly came to me. I'd been watching film a lot, and it wasn't like I practiced at home. I was doing a costume fitting and I had costume on and then I suddenly just found myself walking like her, and I just suddenly felt 'this is going to be all right'."

Watching herself in this film was not an easy experience.

"I saw the finished version at Venice for the first time. Very nerve-racking. Very nerve-racking for it to be shown in Britain, in particular, because obviously we're so invested, so confused, so obsessed, so schizophrenic about the royal family. That was a tough moment.

Helen Mirren becomes the Queen so effectively you forget it's Helen Mirren you're watching. You make no association that this is an actress who is perhaps best known for playing a police detective on television, and who tackles very diverse roles indeed.

"I love the diversity. Who knows what I might do next year? Up to now I've been the police detective. So I've suddenly shot from being the police detective to the Queen, and maybe next year I'll be the bag lady. I don't know.

You do a role, and it's appreciated, and sometimes your best work is going to be completely ignored. But I don't think [this role] is defining in that way, because I can never be as good as the real thing. I'm only a tiny, pale, pale, version of the real thing."


BBC World News Front Page | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions