Helen Mirren, Olivia Colman and more on playing Elizabeth II


Mirren earned a slew of awards, including the lead actress Oscar as well as a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, for her turn as the queen in Stephen Frears’ film, which chronicled the events following the death of Princess Diana in 1997. The queen herself praised the performance and invited Mirren to dinner at Buckingham Palace, which she had to decline due to filming obligations on another project. Accepting the Golden Globe for her turn, Mirren dedicated the award to the royal matriarch: “I honestly think this award belongs to her, because I think you fell in love with her, not me,” she said.

In a statement following the queen’s death, Mirren wrote: “I’m mourning along with the rest of my country, the passing of a great Queen. I’m proud to call myself of the Elizabethan age. If there was a definition of nobility, Elizabeth Windsor embodied it.”

Speaking with Charlie Rose in 2006 about the experience of playing the queen, Mirren said:

“You cannot go anywhere near this subject without being under the most intense kind of scrutiny. It’s a hot potato in England. There’s scrutiny by the press, by the family, by everyone.… Although the monarchy is generally a very beloved and respected institution, parallel with that we have a huge tradition of satirizing and criticizing and mocking the royal family. If you’re doing anything about the royal family, especially coming from the arts world, they expect a mocking, satirical take on it. And in a strange way what was controversial about this film is the fact that it’s actually not.

“I suspect she is blessed with a lack of imagination, which makes her able to be absolutely consistent. You know, imagination is a dangerous thing. It can lead you up all kinds of dangerous routes. And I don’t think the queen has that kind of imagination. And because of that, she’s able to be utterly consistent.”


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