We’ve pretty much always known that Helen Mirren is basically the badass queen of everything (she’s literally played the Queen). Recently, a 1975 interview of hers with Michael Parkinson has resurfaced and is making its rounds around the inter-web. To put it bluntly: this is just 14 minutes of Helen Mirren dodging sexist questions.
If you can even get past that cringe-worthy (and disgusting) introduction where Parkinson calls her ‘an amorous boa constrictor’ and says she is ‘telling in projecting sluttish eroticism’ (yuck), you’ll get to see some prime Mirren in action. She half-heartedly struts on to the stage, then intones ‘that was sluttishly erotic for you’ and the game is on. Helen Mirren is not taking any of your disgusting sexism and misogyny. She’s coming for you.
She goes on to say that what other people say about her isn’t really important to her. They can say what they want, but she is what she is–a lesson we can all learn from. After that, she’s less polite, though always using the sweetest tone imaginable. She says the most gentle-sounding ‘how dare you?’ after Parkinson calls her ‘a serious actress in quotes’ but we know there’s no sweetness there at all. Dame Helen Mirren is not letting this go.
Every time it seems like Helen is steering the conversation away from the hindrances of her gender, Parkinson pulls it right back. You want to talk about how much you like the idea of fair life? But what about the men there, is that why you like it? Somehow it always comes back to a reductive sexist question. And it’s not even subtle. We can all probably agree that ‘let’s talk about nudity’ is not exactly a great segue.
Helen gets in a good number of shots though, telling Parkinson she doesn’t really like men who wear very nicely cut suits and casually saying, ‘male chauvinist, you know that phrase, I’m sure.’ Shots fired.
This interview basically proves everything we already knew regarding Dame Helen Mirren: don’t underestimate her and never imply that her femininity could prevent her from doing anything. She is the feminist icon we needed in 1975 and she still is 40 years later.
Watch the rest of the cringe-worthy interview here (including Mirren shutting it down with a sneeze):