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Dame Helen Mirren, DBE (born 26 July 1945) is an English actor. She has won an Academy Award, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and four Emmy Awards during her career.
Mirren was born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov in a corridor of the maternity wing of Queen Charlotte`s Hospital, Hammersmith in West London. Her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov (1913-1980), was of Russian origin, and her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (née Rogers; 1909-1980), was English.
Mirren`s paternal grandfather, Pyotr Vassilievich Mironov, a Russian nobleman, tsarist colonel and diplomat, was negotiating an arms deal in Britain and was stranded there, along with his family, during the Russian Revolution.
Her father called himself Basil and changed the family name to Mirren in the 1950s. He played the viola with the London Philharmonic before World War II and later drove a cab and was a driving-test examiner, before becoming a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport. Mirren`s mother was from West Ham, London and was the thirteenth of fourteen children born to a butcher whose father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria.
Mirren considers her upbringing to have been "very anti-monarchist".
The first house she remembers living in was in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, when she was two or three years old, after the birth of her younger brother, who was named Peter Basil after his grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Mirren was the second of three children, born two years after her older sister Katherine ("Kate").
Mirren attended a Catholic girls` school, St Bernard`s High School for Girls, in Southend-on-Sea, where she acted in school productions, and subsequently a teaching college, the New College of Speech and Drama in London "housed within Anna Pavlova`s old home, Ivy House" on the North End Road, which leads from Golders Green to Hampstead, N. London. At age eighteen, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre and was accepted. By age 20, she was Cleopatra in the NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic, which led to her signing with the agent Al Parker.
Her work for the NYT led to Mirren joining the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), playing Castiza in Trevor Nunn`s 1966 staging of The Revenger`s Tragedy, Diana in All`s Well That Ends Well in 1967, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida and Phebe in As You Like It in 1968, Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 1970, and Tatiana in Gorky`s Enemies at the Aldwych and the title role in Miss Julie at The Other Place in 1971.
In 1972-73, Mirren worked with Peter Brook`s International Centre for Theatre Research, and joined the group`s tour in North Africa and the US which created The Conference of the Birds. Returning to the RSC she played Lady Macbeth at Stratford in 1974 and at the Aldwych Theatre in 1975.
As reported by Sally Beauman in her 1982 history of the RSC, Mirren, while appearing in Nunn`s Macbeth (1974) and in a highly publicised letter to The Guardian newspaper, attacked both the National Theatre and the RSC for their lavish production expenditure, declaring it "unnecessary and destructive to the art of the Theatre," and adding, "The realms of truth, emotion and imagination reached for in acting a great play have become more and more remote, often totally unreachable across an abyss of costume and technicalities..." There were no discernible repercussions for this rebuke of the RSC.
West End and RSC
At the Royal Court in September 1975 she notably played rock star Maggie in Teeth `n` Smiles, a musical play by David Hare, which was revived at Wyndham`s Theatre in May 1976 winning her the Plays & Players Best Actress award, voted by the London critics.
From November 1975 Mirren played in West End repertory with the Lyric Theatre Company as Nina in The Seagull and Ella in Ben Travers` new farce The Bed Before Yesterday ("Mirren is stirringly voluptuous as the Harlowesque good-time girl": Michael Billington, The Guardian, 10 December 1975). At the RSC in Stratford in 1977, and at the Aldwych the following year, she played a steely Queen Margaret in Terry Hands` production of the three parts of Henry VI, while 1979 saw her `bursting with grace` with an acclaimed performance as Isabella in Peter Gill`s otherwise unexceptional production of Measure for Measure at Riverside Studios.
In 1981 she returned to the Royal Court for the London premiere of Brian Friel`s Faith Healer. In the same year she also received acclaim for her performance in the title role of John Webster`s The Duchess of Malfi, a production of Manchester`s Royal Exchange Theatre which transferred to the The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London. Reviewing her portrayal for The Sunday Telegraph, Francis King wrote: "Miss Mirren never leaves it in doubt that even in her absences, this ardent, beautiful woman is the most important character of the story."
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Full Name at Birth
Helen Lydia Mironof
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Count - Awards
St Bernard's High School for Girls (1963)
Dame Helen Lydia Mirren (née Mironoff; born 26 July 1945), DBE, is an English actor. Mirren has won an Academy Award, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards. In 2003, she received a damehood for services to the performing arts at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
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