CATEGORIES Movie NewsDame Helen Mirren occupies an interesting space in the celebrity stratosphere: The 67-year-old actress has earned an Oscar for her performance as Queen Elizabeth, and is also routinely regarded as having one of the most enviable bodies in Hollywood -- a fact that she seems to loathe. "It's ridiculous" Mirren said, neatly seated on a sofa in New York's Parker Meridien Hotel.
Although the actress dons a bathing suit in her upcoming role in "Hitchcock," the image is far from that famous photo. Here, Mirren plays Alma Reville, the wife of Alfred Hitchcock (Sir Anthony Hopkins). From Sacha Gervasi, the biopic narrates the behind-the-scenes difficulty of bringing "Psycho" to the big screen and the Hitchcocks' surprising love story.
Mirren sat down with Moviefone to talk about her upcoming film, what she learned from "When Harry Met Sally 2" and her hope to one day work with Tarantino.
Tell me about the first time you saw "Psycho." I don't really remember it, actually...I should probably see it again. I mean, I did see it a really long time ago. I didn't see it when it first came out -- I was too young -- and then I think by the time I did see it it was like, so many years later. And I was like, "Yeah, that was pretty amazing." But it wasn't totally off-the-wall for me.
What's your favorite Hitchcock movie? There's an awful lot of them I haven't seen. I think my favorite is "Vertigo." It's so weird. [Laughs] It's still weird to this day.
For a biopic on Alfred Hitchcock, this film is surprisingly light. Well, you know, Hitch was funny. I think there was a lot of laughter around him all the time; he was very witty. He loved laughter, He loved practical jokes. So I think it was appropriate for the subject matter.
There wasn't a tremendous amount of information on Alama out there, right? No and yes. There is this book that her daughter wrote -- which is amazing, [it's] their whole life story and it could not be a more insider's look, because it's written by the daughter -- and they were a very happy family and a very loving family. She writes nothing but lovingly about her family; there are no nasty, deep secrets in there.
Your character grappled with being overlooked, however you're considered among many to be a sex symbol... Well, you can now disabuse them of that fact. Straight from the horse's mouth.
So when you hear that, you laugh it off? Yes, it's ridiculous.
Being the wife of a director yourself, did you relate to Alma's character in that way? Yes, absolutely. And like Alma, I engage with [my husband, Taylor Hackford] on that. Like, "Yeah, she looks beautiful in that shot, use that one." "That's a great moment there." You're a part of that process. I mean directors are, by nature, obsessional, voyeuristic; they kind of fall in love with their leading ladies and their leading men. It's not necessarily a sexual thing, they have to be sort of obsessive. They're looking at this bloody face all day long, they're in the editing room all day long. It's got to be a face that they want to look at. They cast them in their movies in the first place because there's something in there that appeals to them, that attracts them -- but not necessarily physically. So, if you live with a director, you live with that. That's a part of the job.
Can you shed some light on "When Harry Met Sally 2"? How did you get involved in that? [Laughs] Oh, Billy Crystal rung me up and asked me and I just thought it'd be a funny thing to do. It taught me a lesson on how brilliant Meg Ryan was. Because when you're trying to recreate what she did it was sort of impossible. Because she was so good at it! Her timing and everything was so brilliant. She is a great comedienne and it was very difficult to emulate her.
Are you a fan of the vampire stuff that was depicted in "Harry Met Sally 2"? No. Absolutely not. It's so silly; it's so idiotic the whole thing.
Did you ever have a passion project like Hitchcock's "Psycho" that you felt any sort of opposition to? No, quite honestly. I'm much more sort of laissez-faire... I do admire the ability to say "No, this is the one. That's the one we have to do." I could never be quite so sure about anything.
You said that working with Anthony Hopkins was a kind of cosmic inevitability -- is there anyone else out there that you feel similarly about? I'd love to work with Tarantino.
That would be amazing, especially now that you're wielding a lot of guns. Yeah. Well, I just read that he's going to retire. So, it's going to be too late.