Actress Helen Mirren turns 71 on Tuesday, July 26. Is it possible that she just keeps getting better and better each year? Here are some of the reasons we love the Dame.
1. She’s a Triple Crown winner at an age when many other horses get put out to pasture.
Mirren is entertainment’s version of the watch that keeps on ticking. Despite the scarcity of roles for many older actors, Mirren continues to land some pretty big parts. For example, she'll next appear in "Fast 8," the eighth film in the action-packed "Fast and Furious" franchise, due out in 2017. Perhaps it’s because she is comfortable in her own skin and isn’t afraid to put herself out there. And of course she has that regal thing going for her.
Not only did she win an Oscar in 2006 for her role in “The Queen,” she also nabbed a Tony Award for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Audience” as well as three Emmys for her work on “Prime Suspect” and “Elizabeth I.”
2. She’s not afraid to talk openly and honestly about body image and her own confidence as she’s gotten older.
She said recently that working in a youth-obsessed industry is terribly intimidating. “Sometimes you feel wonderful and — it’s the same whether you’re 13 or 26 or 86 — sometimes you feel insecure and frightened,” she said.
3. She’s also not afraid of aging or of calling out Hollywood on its blatant ageism.
Aging, she says, has its pros and cons. “I loved being young but I’ve enjoyed every stage in different ways,” she said. “It’s all part of the wonderful process of being a human being.”
Mirren was being interviewed at an event in June 2015 hosted by The Wrap when she was asked about actress Maggie Gyllenhaal’s revelation that she — at age 37 — was told she’s too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.
“I’m sure that’s true,” Mirren said, without batting an eye. “Fucking outrageous. It’s ridiculous,” she continued. Mirren then pointed out the blatant double standard when it comes to actors and the heroines starring opposite them. “We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying,” Mirren said.
4. She once lived with Liam Neeson, which makes her the envy of many a woman.
Mirren lived with actor Liam Neeson during the early 1980s. They had met while working on the set of “Excalibur.” When he was interviewed for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson credited Mirren for helping him get an agent.
5. She’s known as the “sex queen of Stratford.”
She went from being a young hottie to an older hottie. With class, dignity and a beauty that comes from within, Mirren is a textbook case of how to age gracefully. The nickname “sex queen of Stratford” came from her days at the Royal Shakespeare Company and is an acknowledgement of her willingness to strip when the role called for it.
6. She’s daring and still knows how to have fun.
As we wrote here, Dame Mirren has never been one to follow the crowd. She has dyed her hair pink, shopped at “stripper shops” for sexy shoes, and royally smacked down people who drink and drive. And clearly she is the coolest septuagenarian around by getting some major ink.
And, of course, there was that time when she chatted with Jimmy Fallon while sucking helium.
7. She’s been married nearly 20 years to husband Taylor Hackford, an achievement that’s something of an anomaly in Hollywood, where many unions end faster than you can say “I do.”
When asked what’s made her relationship work, she told Entertainment Tonight in February that it’s all down to “spending a lot of time apart.”
“We miss each other terribly,” Mirren said, but the time apart “isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
Mirren says it’s all part of what keeps them going strong. A lasting marriage is all about “listening to the other person, giving the other person room to be who they want to be, who they are,” Mirren said. “Certainly giving them room and support in their profession and work... but that has to be a two-way street.”
Happy birthday to a beautiful woman!