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Helen Mirren as a Sex Symbol? You Bet

From her sultry start on the stage to 60-something stardom, this dame has what it takes

Oscar Night 2007

En español | When she won an Oscar (and an AARP Movies for Grownups Award) for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, Dame Helen Mirren simply added an exclamation point to her unsurpassed résumé. As her latest film, The Hundred-Foot Journey, opens this summer, here’s a look at her legendary career.


Her Acting Start

In 1970, a sultry young Mirren was already becoming known in England for her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in British TV dramas. American audiences first got an eyeful of her opposite Malcolm McDowell in 1973’s O Lucky Man!

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Sitting Pretty

She’s wearing some impressive stilettos in this early 1970s photo — and even today at 68, Mirren loves to strut the red carpet in towering heels. She calls them her “secret weapon” for long legs.

Keystone/Getty Images

Winning at Cannes

The jury at the Cannes International Film Festival awarded Mirren the best actress award for her performance in 1984’s Cal, in which she plays a woman who falls in love with an IRA terrorist involved in the murder of her husband.

Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Her Signature Part

As the conflicted Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in the British series Prime Suspect, Mirren (shown with costar Ben Miles) became a household name in the U.S., too. She won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for four more.

AF archive/Alamy

Sexy at 50-Plus

Seemingly sexier with each passing year, Mirren turned heads again as a small-town Englishwoman who poses nude, along with lots of other village women, for charity in the 2003 comedy Calendar Girls.

Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures/The Kobal Collection

Her Royal Destiny

Mirren has never been “throne” for a loop: She has played queens both historical and fictional, including turns as both of Britain’s queens Elizabeth. She was the title character in the 2005 HBO miniseries Elizabeth I.

Giles Keyte/HBO

Authenticity Reigns

And in 2006 Mirren so accurately played corgi-loving Queen Elizabeth II that she won the Oscar for best actress.

Laurie Sparham/Miramax

Kicking Butt

In the 2010 caper RED — costarring with fellow screen vets Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich — Mirren helped erase Hollywood’s longtime ageism when it comes to casting action stars.

Frank Masi/Everett Collection

Still a Fashionista

Why did Mirren decide to dye her hair pink for a Hollywood premiere last year? “I thought it would be fun to have pink hair,” she told Jay Leno. “I’m too old to ask people permission to do things anymore.”

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Always Working

In her latest film, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Mirren stars (with Manish Dayal) as a chic French restaurateur who’s dismayed when an Indian eatery opens across the street from her place.

Francois Duhamel/DreamWorks

Longtime Love

Mirren has made just two movies with her Oscar-winning director husband, Taylor Hackford. “Working with him, I have to say, wasn’t easy,” she told the London Times. “He didn’t make me cry, but he made me very cross!” They married in 1997, 11 years after their romance began.

Riccardo Ghilardi

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