Helen Mirren Didn't Experience Fame Till Her 40s—Here's What She Says About It

Can you imagine a time when Helen Mirren wasn’t around? Neither can we. But it turns out that the movie star didn’t really start gaining recognition until she was well into her forties. We’re looking back on her comments about the benefits of gaining fame later in life. 

Helen Mirren said she wanted fame from the time she was 22

Mirren’s strong work ethic helped her get to where she is–an internationally renowned A-lister with a string of high-profile credits under her belt. But it wasn’t always that way. She told Closer Weekly in 2017 that it didn’t come quickly. 

“From the start, I never stopped working, but I wanted [fame when] I was 22,” Mirren told Closer. “I had a certain kind of success in Britain, but the kind of international success I got didn’t come until after 40.” 

Since then, things only seem to have gotten better. The star of The Queen told a crowd at a 2014 pre-Oscar party for Women in Film that she enjoyed the freedom that comes with growing older. 

“I don’t often wish that I’m younger because I think that it’s pretty cool to be older,” Mirren told the crowd. “What I love the most about being older is that lovely ‘I don’t give a f–kness’ kind of thing,” she said. “All you young things don’t be afraid of getting older because it’s f–king great, but tonight looking at this audience, I do wish I was about 40 years younger.”

She said the industry is evolving to become more inclusive 

Helen Mirren has also noted that in her years on the big screen, she’s seen significant changes take place. The Los Angeles Times reported that at the 2014 pre-Oscar event, she detailed how the industry has become more inclusive to women. 

“When I first came into the film industry, you walked onto a film set and it was all men,” she said. “And, my God, how much things have changed. I’ve witnessed that change. It’s so exciting to see that change .… That’s why I want to live another 40 years, because I want to see what further changes are coming.”

Mirren herself has broken barriers in the industry. There’s her use of colorful language and plunging cleavage on the red carpet to begin with. But there’s also the fact that, in movies like Red (opposite Die Hard’s Bruce Willis), she redefines what it means to be a powerful and magnetic woman. 

Helen Mirren is also a cosmetics brand ambassador 

Mirren has become known as an ageless fashion icon in Hollywood. The L’Oreal Paris brand ambassador recently returned to the red carpets of the Cannes Film Festival, telling People magazine that she loves to dress up. “I love the opportunity to wear incredibly beautiful clothes,” she told People. “I appreciate the craft of couture. I’m a girl, I love, love dressing up. And then I’m perfectly happy to give it all away at the end of the night and go back to my scruffy, Bohemian outfits.”

But it’s what she’s done on screen that has made the most significant impact. Despite her late arrival in the pantheon of famous actors, she’s now an award-winning actor with an impressive history. Mirren first became well-known for the TV series Prime Suspects at the age of 46, and by the time she was 50 she already had a supporting actor nomination from The Academy for her role in The Madness of King George. That was in 1995, and her career has only grown. She won the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Queen at the age of 62.

Clearly, Helen Mirren is just getting started. 

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