Helen Mirren has definitely earned a legion of fans throughout her more than 50-year career as an actress, and her commitment to ageing naturally has garnered her even more popularity.
Mirren started off in the entertainment industry as a theater actress, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company before making her debut on London’s West End in 1975.
Though, the now-78-year-old didn’t become a household name until later on in her life – she was 35 when she landed her breakout role as a gangster’s girlfriend in ‘The Long Good Friday’ (1980), opposite Bob Hoskins.
Having focused on her career for much of her adult life, finding the right partner and having children wasn’t on Mirren’s radar… Until she met her now-husband – US film director Taylor Hackford.
“I was 38 when I met Taylor, pretty late in life,” she stated in a 2016 AARP interview, recalling how the director had kept her waiting for an audition when they first met. When she eventually landed the part, the pair got to know each other and their relationship grew from there.
Eventually, Mirren and Hackford were able to bond over their similar working class upbringings (her mother was a working class woman whose own family came from a long line of butchers, while Mirren’s father was a Russian aristocrat who escaped to the UK during the Russian Revolution and became a cab driver to support his family).
The future spouses also bonded over their love for traveling, and apparently had a similar view on storytelling, both being in the entertainment industry.
Even though Hackford’s two children from previous marriages supported Mirren’s union with their father, this didn’t change her stance on becoming a mother herself. Though, she did explain that she found Hackford’s dedication to being the best parent to his children rather endearing.
The pair eventually married in 1997, after they came to the realization that they knew they would be together forever. At that point, they’d been together for over a decade.
The infamous swimsuit photo
Fast forward to 2008, and Mirren went viral for an image her husband snapped of her at the beach… Something that stunned fans and even the legendary actress herself!
The married couple had been on a romantic Italian beach vacation when they trekked to a secluded beach spot to take in the breathtaking views in private.
She recalled how she took a photo of her husband and then, in return, he snapped a quick pic of her. Though, Mirren said that the moment she sucked in her stomach when posing, she saw a small flash in the distance and crouched down on the rocks to hide from the apparent paparazzo.
When Mirren’s husband turned around, he couldn’t see the paparazzo, and said his wife was just being “paranoid”. Though, sure enough, the photo taken of Mirren in a red bikini was posted by a tabloid and went viral everywhere.
A few years later the actress told Ellen DeGeneres on the latter’s talk show that the image was just a fluke, saying: “I look at that picture and say, god, I wish I look like that. But I don’t.”
Years later, people are still stunned by the image of Mirren, who was 63 years old at the time it was taken – with many people on the internet commenting that they don’t look half as good as her despite being decades younger!
In 2014, the Oscar winner spoke about the image just before her 68th birthday, telling People: “The truth is I don’t really look that good, it was just a flattering picture.”
She added: “I am beyond the bikini-wearing age, really. I wouldn’t normally wear one. I look like a woman in her 60s. I’ve always looked awful in a bikini, even when I was young.”