Dame Helen Mirren sees her role in the remake of Arthur, in which she co-stars opposite Russell Brand, as a career departure. The 65-year-old actress told me, “I did it because I’ve never done a big full-out comedy before.”
As she explains, plenty of her past film roles have been comedic, but she’s never done a comedy with a major American studio behind it.
Arthur opens on Friday (April 8), and Brand has taken on the role of the hard-drinking, fun-loving New York playboy that Dudley Moore made famous in the original 1981 film.
In the new picture, Dame Helen has moved into the late Sir John Gielgud‘s shoes by playing Arthur’s caretaker. Gielgud was Arthur’s butler in the original film; in a slight twist, Dame Helen plays his nanny.
How did she find playing opposite the larger-than-life Brand? She told me that he was “utterly disciplined” when working on the set.
Although the Oscar anointed Dame Helen as one of the most revered actresses of her generation, she admits to getting awed by some of her big onscreen collaborators. As she explained: “I get totally starstruck. I can’t look at them. I can’t talk to them and I don’t feel good enough — and likewise with Russell I’m just not good enough and that’s the truth.”
Tom Brook‘s reports on cinema can be seen every Tuesday and Thursday morning on BBC America.