Birth Name: Ilyena Lydia Mironoff
Date of Birth: July 26, 1945
Born and raised in London, England, Helen Mirren is a descendant of a Russian noble family—her father was a Russian aristocrat who was stranded in London after the 1917 Russian Revolution. Knowing she wanted to become an actress as early as age six, Helen tried to please her parents with a stint at a teacher's college, but ultimately joined the National Youth Theatre, starting her acting career on stage.
As early as age 18 she was landing starring roles such as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra at London's Old Vic Theatre. In 1967 she landed a position among the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company where she performed many of greatest heroines including Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, and Julia from Two Gentlemen of Verona.
She started her career on screen in 1967 with Herostratus. A largely forgettable film, she followed it up with far stronger showings in such films as The Age of Consent (1969), The Long Goodbye (1973), O Lucky Man! (1973), Caligula (1977), Excalibur (1981), Cal (1984) (earning her the Best Actress award at Cannes) and The Madness of King George (1994). Her portrayal of Queen Charlotte in the latter film earned her her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1990 Helen earned considerable notice from television viewers for her role as DCI Jane Tennison, a hard-boiled detective, in the miniseries, Prime Suspect. The popular series went on to produce two other miniseries and three telefilms. It also garnered her three BAFTA awards and an Emmy for Best Actress.
Her feature film performances continued to thrive into this millennium with strong showings in Greenfingers (2000), The Pledge (2001), Gosford Park (2001) (which earned her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress), and Calendar Girls (2003).
She won a second and third Golden Globe in 2007, for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in the TV miniseries Elizabeth I (2005) and as Queen Elizabeth II in the feature film The Queen (2006). She also won an Academy Award as Best Actress for her role in The Queen (2006). In 2010, she received a fourth Academy Award nomination, this time for her work in The Last Station.
Helen continued working steadily in the 2010s, appearing in projects such as Arthur (2011), Hitchcock (2012), RED 2 (2013), and Monsters University (2013). She then starred alongside Ryan Reynolds in Woman in Gold (2015). Also in 2015, she starred in the thriller Eye in the Sky (2015) and the biographical drama Trumbo (2015). Helen stole the show when she appeared opposite Will Smith in the drama Collateral Beauty (2016), followed by the role of Magdalene Shaw opposite Vin Diesel in the action flick The Fate of the Furious (2017). For her work in The Leisure Seeker (2017) opposite Donald Sutherland, Helen received a 2018 Golden Globe nomination. Since then, she has played a haunted widow in the horror film based on true events, Winchester (2018) and Mother Ginger in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018). Her list of credits in 2019 include Anna, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and The Good Liar, receiving several nominations for her work in the latter, opposite Ian McKellen.
Also in 2019, she played the title role on the HBO mini-series Catherine the Great, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Limited Series.
Helen also reprised her role as Magdalene Shaw in F9: The Fast Saga (2021).
Although she has a successful career on screen, Helen never fully abandoned her love of stage and always makes time to perform on it. In 2013, she reprised her Academy Award-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II in the highly-anticipated West End production of The Audience, broadcast live from London's Gielgud Theatre as part of National Theatre Live.
In September 2007, Helen's autobiography, In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures, was published. It was reviewed as an honest depiction of her life thus far, delving into the details of her life in the theater.
She married director Taylor Hackford in 1997, and they make their home in the Los Angeles area. Helen was made a D.B.E. (Dame of the British Empire) in June 2003.