Actress Helen Mirren Calls Out Hollywood for Penis Worship

BlogHer Original Post
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 07: Dame Helen Mirren, recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award speaks onstage at The Hollywood Reporter's Annual Power 100: Women In Entertainment Breakfast held at The Beverly Hills Hotel on December 7, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Say what you want about Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren, but don't ever say that she pulls her punches. In fact she landed a couple of doozies squarely on Hollywood's jaw when she received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment breakfast.

Take a listen as the 65 year old actress first pays tribute to her mother and then kicks Hollywood right where it hurts:

My favorite quotes from the speech:

"I’ve seen too many of my brilliant colleagues who worked non-stop through their 20s, 30s, and 40s, only to find a complete desert in their 50s. And no work means no income. You can’t earn enough to keep yourself."

"I resent in my life the survival of some very mediocre male actors and the professional demise of some very brilliant female ones." 

"However, with all respect to you many brilliant and successful women in this room … really not too much has changed in the canon of Hollywood film-making that continues to worship at the altar of the 18- to 25-year-old male -- and his penis."

I think the fact that she's British and not totally dependent on Hollywood films gives her a bit more freedom to speak up than, say, a Meryl Streep.  But Mirren's never really been too shy about bucking the establishment, and in this speech, she was not only eloquent but charming as she accused Hollywood of promoting sexism to make a buck.

After the speech Bloginity reported:

Asked how it makes her feel to be a beauty role model in her 60s, she said, "A bit cross, actually.  We have to let go of this crap.  It creates even more pressure on women and I certainly don't want to be part of that.   I'm not beautiful; I clean up nice.''

I'd say she does indeed.


Photo by: MC/AAD/  2010  10/19/10 Helen Mirren at the premiere of Red . (London, England)  Photo via Newscom

Mirren's been quite busy this year with the release of three movies, and it's given her more opportunities than usual to tells us exactly what she thinks.

Here she is on David Letterman in June, talking about legalized prostitution:

The ladies of the Evil Slut Clique thought Mirren's interview in New York Magazine's summer issue was awesome.  In it Mirren commented on women and sex:

“The Playboy Mansion, coke, and the rise of all that -- Guccione and Hefner always pushed it as liberation, but it didn’t seem like that to me.  That was women obeying the sexualized form created by men -- though maybe we always do that, because we want to be attractive. But I was kind of a trailblazer because I demanded to do it my own way. I’d say, ‘I’m not having it put on me by someone else.’ I didn’t want to be the sort of puritanical good girl with a little white collar who says, ‘Don’t shag until you get married.’"

Oh, and Dame Helen did a nude photo shoot to accompany that interview.  Love that!

Over at Yellow, they have a choice collection of Helen Mirren quotes.  Some highlights:

"All you have to do is to look like crap on film and everyone thinks you’re a brilliant actress. Actually, all you’ve done is look like crap."

"Flesh sells. People don’t want to see pictures of churches. They want to see naked bodies."

"It’s never been confirmed that Elizabeth [Elizabeth I, Queen of England] was a virgin. It’s like the Virgin Mary – it’s about branding, a logo. To use a modern term, Elizabeth was actually a bit of a slut."

Mirren took a swipe at her fellow countrymen recently when she implied British humor was cruel:

"I prefer the finesse of French humour. English humour is harsher, more scathing, more cruel and more surreal too, as illustrated by Monty Python and the TV series Little Britain, where situations are far-fetched and over-the-top."

Yup, the woman knows how to speak her mind.

Mirren's latest role is as Prospero in Julie Taymor's new film adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  It's a gender bender role for Dame Helen because in the play, Prospero is a man. 

Related Links:

Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video.. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Meg's Rad Reviews.


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.