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Karlovy Vary Film Festival: Helen Mirren Talks Women In Filmmaking, Violence Vs. Nudity, 'Hitchcock' & More

Photo of Jessica Kiang By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist July 2, 2012 at 12:04PM

The organisers of the Karlovy Vary International FIlm Festival, taking place this week in the obscenely picturesque spa town of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, have hit on a canny strategy. The festival’s programming has for some years now been above reproach in every respect, something that has not always been the case in its storied 47 year history, that at one point saw the event pretty much shunned because of its apparent kowtowing to the communist powers-that-were.
2

Taylor Hackford Helen Mirren
3. She appears to have one of the happier Hollywood marriages we’ve witnessed
Mirren and Hackford met on the set of “White Nights” and after becoming an item worked together once more on “Love Ranch.” Apparently Hackford has proposed other collaborations, but Mirren says, with brutal candor/humor “the roles simply weren’t good enough.” But in case you think that may have put a strain on their relationship, the pair are quick to eulogize each other, with Mirren admiringly describing how Hackford essentially put together the entire “Love Ranch” project from scratch, and Hackford going on to say of his wife:

“You see the result of Helen’s work on the screen, but the other experience that you can’t ever understand is the joy of working with her on set. There are certain actors you can ask almost anything of and they’ll be able to do it, and translate it into something that makes you look better. Some actors, you ask them to do it this way and do it that way…they come up against a stone wall. There are certain actors, and Helen is one of them, that you can really get everything you ask for and that is such a pleasure for a director. And for the other actors with her -- because leadership on set comes from the director, but when your star is literally being there, not going to their trailer, doing the hard work as asked, it has a very salutory effect on the other actors and makes for a much better film.”

Aw. You guys!

4. Mirren, refreshingly, doesn’t want to direct, and would choose film over theatre.
Mirren once directed a segment of the TV omnibus "On The Edge" and of that experience she says, “I loved the process, I even had advice…in my bedroom. I came to the end of the experience absolutely having loved it, thinking what a great job directing is, what fun it had been, and ‘I’m not going to do this again.’ Because actually, I’m an actress. I chose to be an actress… I was asked to do a long-format thing also for TV and I said no, because I love being an actress, I think it’s my chosen destiny and I don’t want to change paths. But I still want very much to encourage women and hope to work with many female directors in the future.”

Furthermore, when asked about her preference between her film and theatre work, instead of coming over all misty-eyed at the purity of the theatrical acting experience, she said, “my answer to that is usually whichever one I’m not doing at the time… but if I ultimately had to choose, I would probably choose film. I’ve come to absolutely love the process of filmmaking.”

The Door Helen Mirren
5. She counts her character in “The Door” as one of the most difficult acting challenges of her life.
“It was perhaps the hardest film I’ve ever done. It doesn’t look like that to the eye, but I felt a responsibility, that it was a Hungarian story, a whole central European story, the World War Two [aspects], the communist experience… So I felt an incredible weight of responsibility and felt all the time I was falling very short… The only great advantage was I wore absolutely no make up, so I didn’t have hours of preparation. It only took 5 minutes to get ready and that was fantastic.”

And later she elaborated further: “...[my character] has an incredible mystery about her…is she actually a really evil character or is she a very noble character? And you just don’t know because she’s so uncommitted. In a way that’s harder to play.”

This article is related to: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Helen Mirren, Hitchcock


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