Oscar-winning ‘Queen’ Helen Mirren returns to the screen in ‘National Treasure’
December 19, 2007
LOS ANGELES (AP) ” Helen Mirren, who swept Hollywood’s awards season last year with her work in ‘The Queen,’ is trading in her tiara for bumps and bruises.
The 62-year-old actress did her own stunts for the big-budget action flick “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” her first film since winning an Academy Award.
She didn’t take on the role to add to her arsenal of awards. She took it to have some fun.
Ever regal with her platinum pixie haircut and black skirt suit, Mirren sat down with The Associated Press to talk about her future as an action hero and life after Oscar.
AP: Why do “National Treasure”?
Mirren: (Laughing) Why do something as fun as this, why do something as exciting as this, why on earth do something as popular as this, why do something as well-budgeted as this? Is she insane?
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AP: Is she?
Mirren: No, she’s really, really sensible. She knew what she needed to do. I’m not talking about career move, I’m just talking about my personal pleasure, my personal fun. … I wanted to be in a sort of ensemble piece, I didn’t want to be the star of the piece, and I’ve never been in a big, big, big-budget movie before. It was wonderful to participate in something like that where there is enough money to do what you want to do. … Most movies that I’m in, the budgetary considerations are so tight, you have to work so fast, you have to make such compromises all the time, it was great to be in something where that wasn’t an issue.
AP: You had these expectations of what comes with being in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie and yet acting is acting, isn’t it?
Mirren: Acting is acting, but acting is different in almost always every project, and very, very different in this context. … You look at that lineup: Ed Harris, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, myself, Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha. You know, pretty bloody impressive, but it needed all of our expertise and our professionalism to really make the characters pop, make the characters work. I hope if the film works, it works on that level as well as all the wonderful effects, the grandeur of it, the adventure of it. But you can have all the adventure of the world without characters that spark, it becomes boring.
AP: You did your own stunts?
Mirren: I guess, yes, I did. Certainly the swinging on the wire, the swinging on the vine I did and everything in the water I did, yes of course.
AP: How was it?
Mirren: Well, it was the best thing of my life! (Laughing) It was fantastic, at the end of swinging on the vine they just, the whole crew just thought I was so funny because I was just yelling with pleasure. I was so excited about it. And I said to (director) Jon Turteltaub at the end of the day that that was the best day of my professional life.
AP: Bumps, bruises?
Mirren: I guess I got a few bruises, but you know I get bruised on stage. Bruises are part of your life as an actor.
AP: Awards season: thrilling but also sort of a job?
Mirren: It is. I was lucky in a sense that I was actually filming throughout the whole Oscar, SAG, Golden Globes, that whole thing. I was actually making a movie in England … traveling, doing a function, going back the next day, being on set the day after that. It was exhausting, but it was also very, what’s the word, grounding, because every day I had to keep going back to work. So that was great.
AP: Did life change after you had the little gold guy?
Mirren: I’ve got my little gold guy and I love my little gold guy, (but) no, not specifically, I don’t think so. But … it’s on me. … Oscar-winning (she points to her jacket like she’s wearing a badge) and that does happen. … It’s in other people’s perceptions really rather than in your own perception of yourself. I don’t think literally my life changed or will change at all.
AP: So now, Oscar winner, and action hero?
Mirren: (Laughing) Yes! Yes, absolutely, I hope so. I would be so thrilled of people seeing me as an action hero. That would be pinnacle of my career definitely.