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Date of Birth: 26 July 1945

Age: 77 years old

Profession: Actor



Dame Helen Lydia Mirren is an English actor. The recipient of numerous accolades, Mirren is the only performer to have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She received an Academy Award and a British Academy Film Award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, a Tony Award and a Laurence Olivier Award for the same role in The Audience, three British Academy Television Awards for her performance as DCI Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, and four Primetime Emmy Awards including two for Prime Suspect.

Mirren's stage performance as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at the National Youth Theatre in 1965 provided her an opportunity to join the Royal Shakespeare Company, before making her West End stage debut in 1975. Since then, she has gone on to have success in television and film. Aside from her Academy Award-winning performance, Mirren's other Oscar-nominated performances were for The Madness of King George (1994), Gosford Park (2001), and The Last Station (2009). For her role on Prime Suspect which ran from 1991 to 2006, she won three consecutive British Academy Television Awards for Best Actress (1992, 1993 and 1994), a joint-record of consecutive wins shared with Julie Walters, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Mirren played Queen Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), and Queen Elizabeth II in the film The Queen (2006); she is the only actor to have portrayed both of the regnant Elizabeths on screen.

After her breakthrough film role in The Long Good Friday (1980), other notable film roles included Cal (1984), for which she won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress, 2010 (1984), The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999), Calendar Girls (2003), Hitchcock (2012), The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014), Woman in Gold (2015), Trumbo (2015), and The Leisure Seeker (2017). She also appeared in the action films Red (2010) and Red 2 (2013) playing an ex-MI6 assassin, and in the Fast & Furious films The Fate of the Furious (2017), Hobbs & Shaw (2019), and F9 (2021).

During the Queen's 2003 Birthday Honours Mirren was appointed a Dame (DBE) for services to drama, with investiture taking place at Buckingham Palace. In 2013 she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2014 she received the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 2021, she was announced as the recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Early life

Mirren was born Helen Lydia Mironoff at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in the Hammersmith district of London on 26 July 1945, to an English mother and Russian father. Her mother, Kathleen "Kitty" Alexandrina Eva Matilda (née Rogers; 1909–1996), was a working-class woman from West Ham, the thirteenth of fourteen children born to a butcher whose own father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria. Helen Mironoff's father, Vasily Petrovich Mironoff (1913–1980), was a member of an exiled family of the Russian nobility; he had been taken to England when he was two by his father, Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov. Pyotr Mironov, who owned a family estate near Gzhatsk (now Gagarin), was part of the Russian aristocracy. Mironov's mother, Helen Mironoff's great-grandmother was Countess Lydia Andreevna Kamenskaya, an aristocrat and a descendant of Count Mikhail Fedotovich Kamensky, a prominent Russian general in the Napoleonic Wars. Pyotr Mironov served as a colonel in the Imperial Russian Army and fought in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. He became a diplomat and was negotiating an arms deal in Britain when he and his family were stranded by the Russian Revolution in 1917. Mironov settled down in England and became a London cab driver to support his family.

Vasily Mironoff also worked as a cab driver and then played the viola with the London Philharmonic Orchestra before World War II. During the war he worked as an ambulance driver and served in the East End of London during the Blitz. He and Kathleen Rogers married in Hammersmith in 1938, and at some point before 1951 he anglicised his first name to Basil. Shortly after the birth of Helen, her father left the orchestra and returned to driving a cab in order to support the family. He later worked as a driving-test examiner, before becoming a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport. In 1951, Basil Mironoff changed the family name to Mirren by deed poll. Mirren considers her upbringing to have been "very anti-monarchist". She was the second of three children; she has an older sister Katherine ("Kate"; born 1942) and had a younger brother Peter Basil (1947–2002). Her paternal cousin was Tania Mallet, a model and Bond girl. Mirren was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Mirren attended Hamlet Court primary school in Westcliff-on-Sea, where she had the lead role in a school production of Hansel and Gretel, and St Bernard's High School for Girls in Southend-on-Sea, where she also acted in school productions. She subsequently attended a teaching college, the New College of Speech and Drama in London, "housed within Anna Pavlova's old home, Ivy House" on North End Road. At the age of eighteen she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre (NYT) and was accepted, and at twenty, she played Cleopatra in the NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic, a role which Mirren says "launched my career" and led to her signing with agent Al Parker.

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