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Regal Robes Aside

I caught up with Helen Mirren — by phone — as she and her Oscar-winning husband, director Taylor Hackford, were about to have dinner in Alassio on the Italian Riviera.

Since our last conversation, she’d won an Emmy for her portrayal of “Elizabeth I,” and next received the Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for “The Queen.” Now, there’s no doubt she’ll receive an Oscar nomination for this performance as well. Mirren made you feel she was indeed — the Queen, herself.

Earlier this month, Mirren doffed her regal robes to receive even more bows for her final appearance as the alcoholic detective Superintendant Jane Tennison in the PBS Masterpiece Theater’s “Prime Suspect” finale. I asked if she missed played Tennison? “No,” she asnswered, “It was time.”

So how does Helen Mirren follow the above assortment of roles? She’s starring in “a kid’s movie,” she laughingly describes the reason she’s in Italy’s Liguria. The film’s ” “Inkheart,” the first in  Cornelia Funke’s kiddie fantasy trilogy. “I play an old-time eccentric aunt, and I’m really testing my eccentricities” Helen laughs. Brendan Fraser costars as a father who brings to life the stories he reads to his daughter. Mirren says he is a joy to work with. “Inkheart” will introduce Helen to acting in some fancy special effects. The company wiil move to Shepperton for these sequences.

In her global travels for “The Queen,” Mirren modestly told me “The Queen” has had universal appeal. I asked if she’d heard any Royal reactions to her portrayal in the pic. “No — but I’d love it,” she admitted. She allowed that films about the Royals rarely portray them objectively — this one does.

Mirren told me she and Taylor regret not being able to accept the invitation to be at the Dec.3 Kennedy Center Honors and White House pre-reception. They were on hand last year and she said, “It was a most moving occasion.” She helped move us when she appeared at the post-Honors Awards show baring a T-shirt which reminded all: “Rebuild New Orleans — Don’t Forget The People of the Gulf.” She and husband Taylor Hackford have not forgotten them.

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