Dame Helen Mirren is, without question, who I’d like to be when I grow up. The English actor, who has won the triple threat of an Academy Award, a Tony and several Emmys, has had a long and noted career on film, television and stage–but it was in theater that she first started out as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. From her humble thespian beginnings to her recent part in the new Fast 8, Mirren’s career has definitely been full of variety.
Over the years, she hasn’t been afraid to speak out on issues facing women in Hollywood–like ageist double standards, or demanding equal opportunities for women both in front of and behind the camera. She’s even taken manspreaders to task for their irritating behavior. That being said, a recent viral video is providing solid proof that the Dame was willing to address sexism head-on even in the early years of her acting career.
In the video above, Mirren sits down with British chat show host Michael Parkinson in 1975. Right from the start, the mood in the room is tense–and it doesn’t get any better when Parkinson refers to her as a “serious actress” (quotes are his emphasis) and makes pointed reference to whether or not her figure hinders her ability to be a legitimate performer. Fortunately, Mirren isn’t having any of it–and a few years ago, she discussed the awfulness of that segment in an interview with the Telegraph:
Outrageous! That’s the first talk show I’d ever done. I was terrified. I watched it and I actually thought, bloody hell! I did really well. I was so young and inexperienced. And he was such a f—ing sexist old fart. He was. He denies it to this day that it was sexist, but of course he was.
Good grief. Can you believe that was Mirren’s very first talk show interview? In spite of that gross display from Parkinson, we all should consider ourselves lucky that Mirren came back swinging and went on to be a renowned and prolific actor. Success is the best revenge, after all.
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