That at 64 Helen Mirren rocks a red bikini comes as a surprise to those who know her from her Oscar-winning turn as Queen Elizabeth II. But during her more-than-40-year career, Mirren’s spent more time in front of the camera wearing very little than she has wearing a crown.
This story first appeared in the June 28, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In her latest film, “Love Ranch,” Mirren plays a maternal, no-nonsense owner of a legal brothel during the Seventies — the Mrs. Garrett to the prostitutes under her watch.
WWD recently spoke with Mirren about going topless early in a career, going topless late in a career and the importance of sucking in one’s stomach.
WWD: Actresses are discouraged from doing nude scenes. But you were naked in in 1969’s “Age of Consent” and have won several major awards.
Helen Mirren: You really are a piece of meat when you’re younger. It’s one of the reasons I always went back to the theater — to say, “Look, you can see this one way, but this is also what I can do.” I let my work speak for itself.
WWD: Speaking of which, Juergen Teller recently shot you topless for New York magazine. Whose idea was that?
H.M.: When you’re working with a high-level photographer like that — I’m not saying you do anything he tells you to do — but your working relationship with each other becomes a creative thing. He makes you feel free. He works with no lighting, no assistants. It’s just him, his camera and a flashlight. It’s very intimate.
WWD: You’ve said that people have forgotten that you were ever notorious. Are you amused by the reverence that surrounds you now?
H.M.: It started off when I was a tough detective [in the BBC police drama “Prime Suspect”], then I segued to being a respected queen, and actually, I’m neither. I’ve always tried to change the tune. One of the reasons I very much wanted to do “Love Ranch” was to lock my performance of the Queen out. Not exactly out of my CV, but at least people won’t be looking at me as the Queen.
WWD: You looked pretty amazing in that  photograph taken at the beach. How do you stay in shape?
H.M.: I happened to be holding my stomach in because my husband was taking my photograph. Three weeks every six months, I decide to work out. I’m unbelievably lazy. If I had any form of self-discipline, I would look a lot better than I do.