Q is for queen playing: Helen Mirren

The Audience was not the first time Helen Mirren has played QEII

Helen-Mirren-The-Audience-on-Broadway-largeOur local cinema of choice, The Spectrum, did something different for them; they showed a series of recorded plays from National Theatre Live!, the “groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas across the UK and around the world.”

It IS essentially a filmed play, but because of the camerawork, and perhaps the unseen audience, it felt more like being AT a play than merely watching one on screen. “National Theatre Live launched in June 2009 with a broadcast of the… production of Phèdre with Helen Mirren.”

My first NTL experience was seeing Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience, a role for which she would eventually gain her first Tony award for the Broadway adaptation. Indeed, The Wife and I saw this production shortly after the Tony win, in early July 2015.

Why else did this theater magic work? The “butler” in the play announced certain information, like a fire marshal might before the play. There were costume changes just off-stage. There was an intermission, during which we learned about the various costumes.

Perhaps my favorite part was at the end, listening to Helen Mirren being interviewed by director Stephen Daldry, recorded during her run of the American production in 2015. We learn that while the play is mostly the same when it comes to her meeting with most of the Prime Ministers, the writers kept putting in current references when the current PM, David Cameron, has his audience with the Queen. She also shared a tale about a time when Bill and Hillary Clinton were present, and she, teasingly, really directed a snarky line about the US Presidency right at the 42nd occupant.

Of course, The Audience was not the first time Helen Mirren has played QEII. She won an Oscar for playing the title role in the 2006 movie, The Queen. She has also played the title character in the TV miniseries Elizabeth I (2005); The Queen (voice) in The Prince of Egypt (1998); The Snow Queen (voice) in The Snow Queen (1995); and Queen Charlotte in The Madness of King George (1994). Coincidentally, she was born at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in West London in 1945.

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Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

18 thoughts on “Q is for queen playing: Helen Mirren”

  1. A wonderful woman, great interpreter and roleplayer… so a very good choice of you to mention her here 😉

    Have a nice abc-day/-week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

  2. Yes I agree that Helen Mirren is a good actress but I do feel a bitter taste in my mouth because she is an out and out anti monarchist….
    But, go where the money is, Dame Helen, and abandon all your typical leftie, luvie ideals !

    Best wishes,
    ABCW team

  3. Helen Mirren knows probably more about Queen Elisabeth II than the Queen herself as she has played a similar role often. I only know her as Superintendent Jane T. In “Prime suspect”, which was brilliant.
    Thanks Roger, for this post and for your comment.
    Wil, ABCW team.

  4. I love anything Helen Mirren is in. Love “The Queen” and also her portrayal in “Prime Suspect.” One of my favourite actresses.

    abcw team

  5. Helen Mirren is one of my favorite actresses. We recently saw her in the film in which she sued Austria to get her family’s paintings back that had been taken by the Nazis.

  6. Am not recognizing the face of the actress, but I have to say that they did a great job with her make-up – she has that same distanced expression on her face, although I have to say that with the years (the real queen Elizabeth) appears friendlier (to the public, that is).

  7. I’ve never been to one of the cinema theatre shows but how you describe it makes it sound a great night out. I must give is try.

  8. Helen Mirren in the queen of our household. lex and I both love her to pieces. She is one of those women who get cooler and sexier as they get older. I don’t have a smidge of jealousy about the fact that my husband has the hots for her. I take it as a compliment!! Amy

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