Helen Mirren on the Arthur remake

Helen Mirren on delivering the smackdown to Russell Brand

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Helen Mirren is the John Gielgud of our day. At least she’s playing his role in the remake of Arthur. Hobson is Arthur’s nanny, and she’s still got a job to do even though he’s a full grown man. At the press conference for Arthur, Mirren brought her class to Russell Brand’s shenanigangs.


Helen Mirren and Russell Brand, together again:

Helen Mirren: I did [the movie] because I met Russell. I sat on a sofa opposite him for a couple of hours and he just blew me away. I had kind of worked with him in The Tempest. We’d wearily said hi to each other, respectfully, but we hadn’t really spent time together. We bumped into each other and Russell told me about this film, and just totally seduced me, the way he does. I defy male, female or age-appropriate child to spend two hours with Russell and not be completely charmed, and just say, “Yeah, fine. I’ll do whatever you want.”


Even Dame Helen Mirren still has something to learn:

Helen Mirren: Well, it was an education for me, as much as for the education I was trying to give to the character. Mostly, I was the one who was learning stuff. I learned so many things. I’ve never done a film that is called a comedy before. It was one of the reasons I really wanted to do the film, and I was very lucky that I was working with such brilliantly experienced people in the world of comedy, like [director] Jason [Winer], Russell [Brand] and [screenwriter] Peter [Baynham]. It was my education.


Helen Mirren delivers the smackdown to Russell Brand:

Helen Mirren: Punching Russell was great, but the best thing was being taught how to punch by Evander Holyfield, who was my personal trainer on the set. He’s such a gentleman, but he is the champ and he is a big guy, and quite scary. He was very quiet, and he was on the set in the corner. But, I went up to him and said, “Evander, I’ve got to punch Russell. Would you show me how to do it, please?” He said, “Sure,” and he gave me a little training. One of the highlights of the shoot for me was being taught how to punch by Evander Holyfield.


Helen Mirren’s beauty tips:

Helen Mirren: Many virgins have died in my pursuit of youth.


Helen Mirren really will be a queen:

Helen Mirren: My husband and I bought a castle in Puglia. It will be beautiful, but it’s not finished. It’s in the bottom of the heel of the boot of Italy. It’s not really a castle. It’s actually a farmhouse. It’s got a little bit where you can pour boiling oil out of it. They used to do that because Puglia was being invaded, all the time. It had endless invasions, so even the farmhouses are fortified. It’s a fortified farmhouse.


Helen Mirren on the filthy rich:

Helen Mirren: It’s a fantasy that we all have about, “What would we do, if we had a billion dollars?” That’s why, when the lottery gets really big and it’s up to $40 million or $50 million, I go out and buy a ticket. It’s, “Maybe I’ll win.” You fantasize about what it would be like to have millions and millions and millions of dollars. We all do that. Here, we can see what happens when you have millions and millions and millions of dollars. I think it’s a fantasy that we all carry within us, especially anyone who has ever bought a lottery ticket.


Helen Mirren joins the Chinese Theater footprints:

Helen Mirren: Gosh, I’m so really, really honored. When I first came to Hollywood, many years ago, the first place you want to go to is Hollywood Blvd., where Grauman’s Chinese is. That’s the place you go to, as a tourist. It’s the first thing you want to see. It’s the only thing that you know about, as far as Los Angeles is concerned. So, you go and look at Joan Crawford’s hands and feet, and the whole history of American filmmaking is capsulated in that one little area on that one street. That street, to me, has always been the street of dreams. Personally, I’m thrilled that the Oscars are back on Hollywood Blvd. I think that’s where they should be. And to find out that, so many years later, my hands and feet are going to be there, I’m absolutely blown away by it. Becoming a dame was fantastic. Winning an Oscar was amazing. Getting my hands and feet there is incredible.