On stage and screen, actress Helen Mirren has been a trailblazing force for decades.
No wonder we’re wowed by everything she does—or wears. By Lydia Keaton
Call any other actress “show business royalty” and it’s a dazzling compliment. Say that about Britain’s Helen Mirren, 70, and it’s like “of course!” She’s played queens on screen six times, and she’s the only actress to have won awards for portraying both Elizabeths—the Virgin Queen of Shakespeare’s time (in TV’s Elizabeth I) and the long-serving monarch of today (in the 2006 film The Queen).
Born Helen Lydia Mironoff in London, Mirren has the kind of talent that makes any role a crowning achievement. But in private life she’s more quirky than queenly. On one movie set, she says herself, she was “a pain in the ass.” She’s admitted to past cocaine use and to a fondness for going to nude beaches. When she does wear clothes, though, people notice.
We’re talking confident here—and unpredictable. Mirren wore the same elegant black floral Dolce & Gabbana midi dress on five separate red-carpet occasions, making a splash each time. She’ll turn up in a leather jacket and funky gown, or go conventional—diamonds and beaded gowns with plunging necklines. No stranger to haute couture, she’s worn garments by Badgley Mischka, Elie Saab and Escada.
Mirren can be playful. She went for shock and awe in 1997 by donning a feathered hat she called her “bird’s nest” to pick up her Golden Globe for Losing Chase—and again a few years later when she dyed her hair pink. And she’s been spotted on the New York subway in a fluffy grey coat and long purple gloves.
Crimson lipstick is one fashion choice; another is the Native American tattoo on her left hand, a symbol meaning “equal but opposite.” And Mirren has allowed unretouched photos at her age because, well, it’s OK to be real.
Her secret? Knowing what rocks her body and being comfortable in her skin. It’s fitting that in 2003 the actual Queen Elizabeth officially made her a dame. Indeed, there’s nothing like her.