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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

  • mirren helen british actress entertainment movies grownups interview
    ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

    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.

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  • mirren helen british actress entertainment movies grownups interview
    Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

    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!

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  • mirren helen british actress entertainment movies grownups interview chair heels 1970
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    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.

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    Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/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.

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    AF archive/Alamy

    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.

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    Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures/The Kobal Collection

    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.

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  • mirren helen british actress entertainment movies grownups interview queen elizabeth
    Giles Keyte/HBO

    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.

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  • mirren helen british actress entertainment movies grownups interview queen elizabeth
    Laurie Sparham/Miramax

    Authenticity Reigns

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

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    Frank Masi/Everett Collection

    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.

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    Ian Gavan/Getty Images

    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.”

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    Francois Duhamel/DreamWorks

    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.

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    Riccardo Ghilardi

    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.

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