Helen Lydia Mirren, DBE (née Mironoff; born 26 July 1945), is an English actor. Mirren began her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967, and is one of the few performers who have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting, having won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2007, after two previous nominations, for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. In 2015 she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, after two previous nominations, for her performance in The Audience, in which she also portrayed Elizabeth II. The Audience was written by Peter Morgan, who also wrote The Queen. Mirren won her first of several Emmy Awards in 1993 for her performance as police detective Jane Tennison on the acclaimed ITV series Prime Suspect, which ran for a total of seven seasons from 1991 to 2006.
Some of her other notable film roles include Marcella in the 1984 film Cal, for which she won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), The Madness of King George (1994), Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999), Gosford Park (2001), Calendar Girls (2003), The Last Station (2009), Hitchcock (2012), and The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014). She also starred as Victoria Winslow in the action-comedy series Red and Red 2.
In 2003, she was made a Dame in the Order of the British Empire for Services to the Performing Arts. In 2013, Mirren was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2014, BAFTA announced that Mirren would be the recipient of the Academy Fellowship.
Early life and family
She was born Helen Lydia Mironoff in Hammersmith, London, the daughter of Kathleen "Kitty" Alexandrina Eva Matilda (née Rogers; 1909–1996) and Vasily Petrovich Mironoff (1913–1980). Her mother was English and her father was Russian, originally from Kuryanovo, Smolensk Oblast. Mirren's paternal grandfather, Colonel Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov, was in the Imperial Russian Army and fought in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. He later became a diplomat, and was negotiating an arms deal in Britain when he and his family were stranded during the Russian Revolution. The former diplomat became a London cab driver to support his family and eventually settled down in England.
His son, Helen Mirren's father, anglicised the family name to Mirren in the 1950s and changed his name to Basil Mirren. He played the viola with the London Philharmonic before World War II, and later drove a taxi cab and was a driving-test examiner, before becoming a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport. Mirren's mother was a working-class Londoner from West Ham, East London, and was the 13th of 14 children born to a butcher whose own father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria. Mirren considers her upbringing to have been "very anti-monarchist". Mirren was the second of three children; she was born three years after her older sister Katherine ("Kate"; born 1942), and has a younger brother, who was named Peter Basil after his grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Mirren was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
Mirren attended St Bernard's High School for Girls in Southend-on-Sea, where she acted in school productions, and subsequently a teaching college, the New College of Speech and Drama in London, "housed within Anna Pavlova's old home, Ivy House" on the North End Road – which leads from Golders Green to Hampstead, N. London. Aged eighteen, she auditioned for the National Youth Theatre (NYT) and was accepted. By the time she was 20, she was playing Cleopatra in the NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic, which led to her signing with the agent Al Parker.
As a result of her work for the National Youth Theatre, Mirren was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). While with the RSC, she played Castiza in Trevor Nunn's 1966 staging of The Revenger's Tragedy, Diana in All's Well That Ends Well (1967), Cressida in Troilus and Cressida (1968), Phebe in As You Like It (1968), Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1970), Tatiana in Gorky's Enemies at the Aldwych (1971), and the title role in Miss Julie at The Other Place (1971). She also appeared in four productions, directed by Braham Murray for Century Theatre at the University Theatre in Manchester, between 1965 and 1967.
In 1970, the director/producer John Goldschmidt made a documentary film, Doing Her Own Thing, about Mirren during her time with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The film was made for ATV and shown on the ITV Network in the UK.
In 1972 and 1973, Mirren worked with Peter Brook's International Centre for Theatre Research, and joined the group's tour in North Africa and the US, during which they created The Conference of the Birds. She then rejoined the RSC, playing Lady Macbeth at Stratford in 1974 and at the Aldwych Theatre in 1975.
It was reported by Sally Beauman, in her 1982 history of the RSC, that Mirren—while appearing in Nunn's Macbeth (1974), and in a highly publicised letter to The Guardian newspaper—had sharply criticised both the National Theatre and the RSC for their lavish production expenditure, declaring it "unnecessary and destructive to the art of the Theatre," and adding, "The realms of truth, emotion and imagination reached for in acting a great play have become more and more remote, often totally unreachable across an abyss of costume and technicalities..." According to Beauman, there were no discernible repercussions for this rebuke of the RSC.
West End and RSC
At the Royal Court Theatre in September 1975, she played the role of a rock star named Maggie in Teeth 'n' Smiles, a musical play by David Hare; she reprised the role the following year in a revival of the play at Wyndham's Theatre in May 1976. Her performance earned her the London critics' Plays & Players Best Actress award.
Beginning in November 1975, Mirren played in West End repertory with the Lyric Theatre Company as Nina in The Seagull and Ella in Ben Travers' new farce The Bed Before Yesterday ("Mirren is stirringly voluptuous as the Harlowesque good-time girl": Michael Billington, The Guardian, 10 December 1975). At the RSC in Stratford in 1977, and at the Aldwych the following year, she played a steely Queen Margaret in Terry Hands' production of the three parts of Henry VI, while 1979 saw her 'bursting with grace', and winning acclaim for her performance as Isabella in Peter Gill's production of Measure for Measure at Riverside Studios.
In 1981, she returned to the Royal Court for the London premiere of Brian Friel's Faith Healer. That same year she also won acclaim for her performance in the title role of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, a production of Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre which was later transferred to The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London. Reviewing her portrayal for The Sunday Telegraph, Francis King wrote: "Miss Mirren never leaves it in doubt that even in her absences, this ardent, beautiful woman is the most important character of the story."
In her performance as Moll Cutpurse in The Roaring Girl—at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in January 1983, and at the Barbican Theatre in April 1983—she was described as having "swaggered through the action with radiant singularity of purpose, filling in areas of light and shade that even Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker omitted." – Michael Coveney, Financial Times, April 1983.
After a relatively barren sojourn in the Hollywood Hills, she returned to England at the beginning of 1989 to co-star with Bob Peck at the Young Vic in the London premiere of the Arthur Miller double-bill, Two Way Mirror, performances which prompted Miller to remark: "What is so good about English actors is that they are not afraid of the open expression of large emotions" (interview by Sheridan Morley: The Times 11 January 1989). In Elegy for a Lady she played the svelte proprietress of a classy boutique, while as the blonde hooker in Some Kind of Love Story she was "clad in a Freudian slip and shifting easily from waif-like vulnerability to sexual aggression, giving the role a breathy Monroesque quality" (Michael Billington, The Guardian).
On 15 February 2013, at the Gielgud Theatre she began a turn as Elizabeth II in the World Premiere of Peter Morgan's The Audience. The show will be directed by Stephen Daldry. In April she was named best actress at the Olivier Awards for her part.
A further stage breakthrough came in 1994, in an Yvonne Arnaud Theatre production bound for the West End, when Bill Bryden cast her as Natalya Petrovna in Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country. Her co-stars were John Hurt as her aimless lover Rakitin and Joseph Fiennes in only his second professional stage appearance as the cocksure young tutor Belyaev. "Instead of a bored Natalya fretting the summer away in dull frocks, Mirren, dazzlingly gowned, is a woman almost wilfully allowing her heart's desire for her son's young tutor to rule her head and wreak domestic havoc....Creamy shoulders bared, she feels free to launch into a gloriously enchanted, dreamily comic self-confession of love." (John Thaxter, Richmond & Twickenham Times, 4 March 1994)
Mirren was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actress (Play): in 1995 for her Broadway debut in A Month in the Country, now directed by Scott Ellis ("Miss Mirren's performance is bigger and more animated than the one she gave last year in an entirely different London production", Vincent Canby in the NY Times, 26 April 1995). Then again in 2002 for August Strindberg's Dance of Death, co-starring with Sir Ian McKellen, their fraught rehearsal period coinciding with the terrorist attacks on New York on 11 September 2001 (as recorded in her In the Frame autobiography, September 2007). On the 7th of June 2015‚ Dame Helen Mirren won the Tony Award for best actress in the play‚ ‘The Audience’ for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II which also won her the Laurence Oliver Award completing the coveted “Triple Crown of Acting” which includes an acting Oscar‚ Emmy and Tony joining the ranks of legends Ingrid Bergman‚ Dame Maggie Smith, and Al Pacino.
Mirren had an unhappy experience at the National Theatre in 1998 when she played Cleopatra to Alan Rickman's Antony. In 2000 Nicholas Hytner, who had worked with Mirren on the film version of The Madness of King George, cast her as Lady Torrance in his revival of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Michael Billington, reviewing for The Guardian, described her performance as "an exemplary study of an immigrant woman who has acquired a patina of resilient toughness but who slowly acknowledges her sensuality."
At the National Theatre in November 2003 she again won praise playing Christine Mannon ("defiantly cool, camp and skittish", Evening Standard; "glows with mature sexual allure", Daily Telegraph) in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra directed by Howard Davies.
"This production was one of the best experiences of my professional life, The play was four and a half hours long, and I have never known that kind of response from an audience ... It was the serendipity of a beautifully cast play, with great design and direction, It will be hard to be in anything better." (In the Frame, September 2007).
She played the tragic title role in Jean Racine's Phèdre at the National in 2009, in a production directed by Nicholas Hytner. The production was also staged at the amphitheater of Epidaurus on 11 and 12 July 2009.
Mirren has also appeared in a large number of films throughout her career. Some of her earlier film appearances include roles in Midsummer Night's Dream, Age of Consent, O Lucky Man!, Caligula, Excalibur, 2010, The Long Good Friday, White Nights, When the Whales Came and The Mosquito Coast. She appeared in Some Mother's Son, Painted Lady, The Prince of Egypt and The Madness of King George. One of her other film roles was in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as the thief's wife, opposite Michael Gambon. In Teaching Mrs. Tingle she plays sadistic History teacher, Mrs Eve Tingle. In 2007 she claimed director Michael Winner had treated her "like a piece of meat" at a casting call in 1964. Asked about the incident, Winner told The Guardian: "I don't remember asking her to turn around but if I did I wasn't being serious. I was only doing what the [casting] agent asked me – and for this I get reviled! Helen's a lovely person, she's a great actress and I'm a huge fan, but her memory of that moment is a little flawed."
Mirren continued her successful film career when she starred more recently in Gosford Park with Maggie Smith and Calendar Girls where she starred with Julie Walters. Other more recent appearances include The Clearing, Pride, Raising Helen, and Shadowboxer. Mirren also provided the voice for the supercomputer "Deep Thought" in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series: Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of George III, in The Madness of King George (1994). She is the only actress ever to have portrayed both Queens Elizabeth on the screen.
Mirren's title role of The Queen earned her numerous acting awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, among many others. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, she praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign as Queen. Mirren later appeared in supporting roles in the films National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Inkheart, State of Play, and The Last Station, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.
In preparation for her role as a retired Israeli Mossad agent in the film The Debt, Mirren reportedly immersed herself in studies of Hebrew language, Jewish history, and Holocaust writing, including the life of Simon Wiesenthal, while in Israel in 2009 for the filming of some of the movie's scenes. The film is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film of the same name.
In 2014, she appeared opposite Indian actor Om Puri in the comedy-drama The Hundred-Foot Journey.
In 2015, Mirren co-starred in Woman in Gold with actor Ryan Reynolds. The film was based on the true story of Jewish refugee Maria Altmann, who fought the Austrian government to be reunited with Gustav Klimt's painting of her aunt, the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. The film received mixed reviews from critics, although Mirren and Reynold's performances were widely praised.
Mirren will portray Hedda Hopper, the famous actress and gossip columnist in the upcoming biographical drama Trumbo. She is also set to star in Gavin Hood's upcoming thriller Eye in the Sky as a military intelligence officer.
Mirren is known for her role as detective Jane Tennison in the widely viewed Prime Suspect, a multiple award-winning television drama series that was noted for its high quality and popularity. Her portrayal of Tennison won her three consecutive BAFTA Awards for Best Actress between 1992 and 1994.
Some of Mirren's other television performances include Cousin Bette (1971); As You Like It (1979); Blue Remembered Hills (1979); The Twilight Zone episode "Dead Woman's Shoes" (1985); The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999), where her performance won her both the Emmy and the Golden Globe; Door to Door (2002); and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003). In 1976, she appeared with Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates and Malcolm McDowell in a production of Harold Pinter's The Collection as part of the Laurence Olivier Presents series. She also played Elizabeth I in 2005, in the television serial Elizabeth I, for Channel 4 and HBO, for which she received an Emmy Award. Mirren won another Emmy Award on 16 September 2007 for her role in Prime Suspect: The Final Act on PBS in the same category as in 2006.
Mirren hosted Saturday Night Live on 9 April 2011.
Awards and recognition
Mirren lived with actor Liam Neeson during the early 1980s. They had met while working on Excalibur (1981). Interviewed by James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson said she was instrumental in his getting an agent.
Mirren married American director Taylor Hackford (her partner since 1986) on 31 December 1997, his 53rd birthday. The ceremony took place at the Ardersier Parish Church near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The couple had met on the set of White Nights. It is her first marriage, and his third (he has two children from his previous marriages). Mirren has no children and says she has "no maternal instinct whatsoever."
Mirren's autobiography, In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures, was published in the UK by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in September 2007. Reviewing for The Stage, John Thaxter wrote: "Sumptuously illustrated, at first sight it looks like another of those photo albums of the stars. But between the pictures there are almost 200 pages of densely printed text, an unusually frank story of her private and professional life, mainly in the theatre, the words clearly Mirren's own, delivered with forthright candour."
In 1990, Mirren stated in an interview that she is an atheist. In the August 2011 issue of Esquire magazine, Mirren said, "I am quite spiritual. I believed in fairies when I was a child. I still do sort of believe in the fairies. And the leprechauns. But I don't believe in God."
In a GQ interview in 2008, Mirren stated she had been date raped as a student and had often taken cocaine at parties in her 20s, and until the 1980s. She stopped using the drug after reading the (debunked) tabloid tale that Klaus Barbie made a living from cocaine dealing.
On 11 May 2010, Mirren attended the unveiling of her waxwork at Madame Tussauds London. The figure reportedly cost £150,000 to make and took four months to complete.
Mirren was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013.
In August 2013, Mirren was announced as one of several new models for Marks & Spencer's 'Womanism' campaign.
She is quoted as being a naturist, telling the Radio Times “I’m a naturist at heart. I love being on beaches where everyone is naked. Ugly people, beautiful people, old people, whatever. It’s so unisexual and so liberating.” In 2004, she was named "Naturist of the Year" by British Naturism. She said: “Many thanks to British Naturism for this great honour. I do believe in naturism and am my happiest on a nude beach with people of all ages and races!”
|1966||Press for Time||Penelope Squires||Uncredited role|
|1968||Midsummer Night's Dream, AA Midsummer Night's Dream||Hermia|
|1969||Age of Consent||Cora Ryan|
|1970||Red Hot Shot|
|1972||Savage Messiah||Gosh Boyle|
|Miss Julie||Miss Julie|
|1973||O Lucky Man!||Patricia|
|1975||Caesar and Claretta||Claretta Petacci|
|1978||As You Like It||Rosalind||BBC Television Shakespeare|
|1979||Quiz Kid, TheThe Quiz Kid||Joanne||A segment of ITV Playhouse|
|S.O.S. Titanic||Mary Sloan||TV movie|
|Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, TheThe Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu||Alice Rage|
|Long Good Friday, TheThe Long Good Friday||Victoria|
|Faerie Tale Theatre: "The Little Mermaid"||Princess Amelia||TV series: 1 episode|
|1985||Heavenly Pursuits||Ruth Chancellor|
|Coming Through||Frieda von Richthofen Weekley|
|White Nights||Galina Ivanova|
|1986||Mosquito Coast, TheThe Mosquito Coast||Mother Fox|
|1988||Pascali's Island||Lydia Neuman|
|1989||When the Whales Came||Clemmie Jenkins|
|Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, TheThe Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover||Georgina Spica|
|Red King, White Knight||Anna||TV movie|
|1990||Bethune: The Making of a Hero||Frances Penny Bethune|
|Comfort of Strangers, TheThe Comfort of Strangers||Caroline|
|1991||Prime Suspect||Jane Tennison||TV series|
|Where Angels Fear to Tread||Lilia Herriton|
|1993||Hawk, TheThe Hawk||Annie Marsh|
|1994||Madness of King George, TheThe Madness of King George||Queen Charlotte|
|1995||Snow Queen, TheThe Snow Queen||Snow Queen||(voice)|
|1996||Some Mother's Son||Kathleen Quigley||Also Associate Producer|
|Losing Chase||Chase Phillips||TV|
|Tracey Takes On...||Professor Horen||TV series: 1 episode|
|Prince of Egypt, TheThe Prince of Egypt||The Queen||(voice)|
|1999||Passion of Ayn Rand, TheThe Passion of Ayn Rand||Ayn Rand|
|Teaching Mrs. Tingle||Mrs. Eve Tingle|
|2001||Pledge, TheThe Pledge||Doctor|
|No Such Thing||The Boss|
|Happy Birthday||Distinguished Woman||Also Director|
|Gosford Park||Mrs. Wilson|
|2002||Door to Door||Mrs. Porter||TV|
|2003||Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, TheThe Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone||Karen Stone||TV|
|Calendar Girls||Chris Harper|
|2004||Clearing, TheThe Clearing||Eileen Hayes|
|2005||Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, TheThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy||Deep Thought||(voice)|
|Elizabeth I||Queen Elizabeth I|
|2006||Queen, TheThe Queen||Queen Elizabeth II|
|2007||National Treasure: Book of Secrets||Emily Appleton|
|2009||State of Play||Cameron Lynne|
|Last Station, TheThe Last Station||Sofya Tolstoy|
|2010||Love Ranch||Grace Bontempo|
|Tempest, TheThe Tempest||Prospera|
|Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole||Nyra||(voice)|
|Saturday Night Live||Herself||TV (cameo)|
|Saturday Night Live||Herself (host)||TV|
|Debt, TheThe Debt||Rachel Singer|
|Glee||Voice of Becky Jackson||TV (Uncredited)|
|2013||Phil Spector||Linda Kenney Baden||TV film|
|Monsters University||Dean Hardscrabble||Voice role|
|RED 2||Victoria Winslow|
|2014||The Hundred-Foot Journey||Madame Mallory|
|2015||Woman in Gold||Maria Altmann|
|Eye in the Sky||Colonel Katherine Powell||Filming|
Selected stage credits
- Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, Old Vic Theatre, London, 1965
- Cathleen, Long Day's Journey into Night, Century Theatre, Manchester,England 1965
- Kitty, Charley's Aunt, Century Theatre, Manchester, 1967
- Nerissa, The Merchant of Venice, Century Theatre, Manchester, 1967
- Castiza, The Revenger's Tragedy, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 1967
- Diana, All's Well That Ends Well, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1967
- Cressida, Troilus and Cressida, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, London, 1968
- Hero, Much Ado About Nothing, Aldwych Theatre, 1968–1969
- Win-the-Fight Littlewit, Bartholomew Fair, Aldwych Theatre, 1969
- Lady Anne, Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1970
- Ophelia, Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1970
- Julia, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1970
- Tatyana, Enemies, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, 1971
- Harriet, The Man of Mode, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, 1971
- Title role, Miss Julie, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, 1971
- Elayne, The Balcony, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, 1971
- Isabella, Measure for Measure, Riverside Studios Theatre, London,1974
- Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1974, then Aldwych Theatre, 1975
- Maggie, Teeth 'n' Smiles, Royal Court Theatre, London, 1975, then Wyndham's Theatre, London, 1976
- Nina, The Seagull, Lyric Theatre, London, 1975
- Ella, The Bed before Yesterday, Lyric Theatre, 1975
- Queen Margaret, Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1977, then Aldwych Theatre, 1978
- Title role, The Duchess of Malfi, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, England, 1980, then The Roundhouse, London, 1981
- Grace, Faith Healer, Royal Court Theatre, 1981
- Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, Pit Theatre, London, 1983
- Moll Cutpurse, The Roaring Girl, Barbican Theatre, London, 1983
- Marjorie, Extremities, Duchess Theatre, London, 1984
- Madame Bovary, 1987
- Angela, "Some Kind of Love Story" and dying woman, "Elegy for a Lady," in Two-Way Mirror (double-bill), Young Vic Theatre, *London, 1989
- Sex Please, We're Italian, 1991
- Natalya Petrovna, A Month in the Country, London, 1994, then Criterion Theatre, New York City, 1995
- Antony and Cleopatra, Royal National Theatre, London, 1998
- Collected Stories, London, 1999
- Lady Torrance, Orpheus Descending, Donmar Warehouse, London, 2000
- Alice, Dance of Death, Broadhurst Theatre, New York City, 2001–2002
- Mourning Becomes Electra, Lyttelton Stage, Royal National Theatre, 2003
- Phèdre, National Theatre, 2009
- Also appeared as Susie Monmican, The Silver Lassie; in Woman in Mind, Los Angeles
- Queen Elizabeth II, The Audience, The Gielgud Theatre, London, 2013
- Queen Elizabeth II, The Audience, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York City, 2015
- Command Performance, a profile of Helen Mirren written by John Lahr in The New Yorker magazine, 2 October 2006
- In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures (autobiography) by Helen Mirren, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2007 ISBN 978-0-297-85197-4.
- Rather than writing an autobiography Helen Mirren was commissioned by Alan Samson at Orion Books to write about her life in a series of chapters based on pictures from her extensive personal collection of photography and memorabilia. Edited by Chris Worwood, with whom she worked on the Award-winning HBO series Elizabeth, the book covers every aspect of her life from her aristocratic Russian heritage to her days with Peter Hall's RSC company to her Academy Award for The Queen.