Rather than cash in with popcorn movies, Helen Mirren, this year’s Marquee Award lifetime achievement honoree, is an actor’s actor, with credits that include the likes of “The Madness of King George” and “Gosford Park” — both of which earned her Oscar nominations.
She commands enormous respect from her colleagues, in no small measure for her courage onscreen.
Tom Hooper, who directed Mirren in the HBO miniseries “Elizabeth I,” says in contrast to the minimalist tradition of mainstream film acting, Mirren dares to play big emotions.
“She can go for the mood in a scene and not make it over the top,” says Hooper, “where with a lesser actress it would be over the top.”
As Queen Elizabeth I, “when she hears that Mary, Queen of Scots, has been executed, that display of blind fury, it’s hitting up against the edges of artificiality. It’s quite unusual.”
Hooper, who also directed Mirren in “Prime Suspect 6,” also hails her as a great leader on the set, someone he can trust to help him sniff out any phoniness in a scene, even a background bit.
Says Mirren: “I like to create an atmosphere with the director where creative ideas are allowed and there is room for them to be listened to, and I behave like that myself. I always give ultimate control to the director, because you have to have someone whose vision it is, but I’ll certainly have ideas and be unafraid of suggesting them. But I don’t go too far with that.”
Mirren is shooting “Prime Suspect 7,” which she promises will be the last in the series, and she soon will be seen as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen.”
CineVegas’ Trevor Groth says, “She seems to be getting better and better the more and more she works.”