Watch Rising Star Helen Mirren Shut Down Sexist Interviewer Back in 1975
Helen Mirren proves, once again, that she is a force to be reckoned with. During an interview back in 1975, one of her first, Mirren sat down with Michael Parkinson, a “sexist old fart” (her words, not ours), to discuss her budding acting career.
Things start off on the very wrong foot when Parkinson introduces Mirren as a “sex queen” and goes on to quote critics who have called her “an amorous boa constrictor,” “sensual, graceful,” and “especially telling in projecting sluttish eroticism.”
Mirren then struts onto the interview set and asks Parkinson if her walk was “sluttishly erotic enough for you.” Parkinson starts the interview off asking if it bothers her when people call her things like sex queen and an amorous boa constrictor, to which she says, “no.” He also asks if it flatters or annoys her, to which she also responds with a simple “no.”
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“You are, in quotes, a serious actress,” Parkinson says before Mirren cuts him off and says, “‘In quotes’? What do you mean ‘in quotes’? How dare you.” How dare you, indeed! Parkinson goes on to ask if Mirren has found that her “equipment” has hindered her ability and performance as an actress. Before giving her answer, Mirren asks him to clarify: “I’d like you to explain what you mean by my equipment in greater detailm … Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?” Parkinson can’t even get the words out and merely says “I mean your figure … I think they might sort of detract from the performance.” Mirren, clearly put off by the question, gives the most elegant response, telling Parkinson, “I would hope that the performance and the play and the … relationship between all the people on stage and all the people in the audience overcome some boring questions.”
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In an interview with The Telegraph back in 2011, Mirren recalled the interview. “That’s the first talk show I’d ever done,” she said. “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-king sexist old fart. He was. He denies it to this day that it was sexist, but of course he was.”
If anyone could handle themselves with the utmost grace in front of a “sexist old fart,” of course it would be the great dame. Watch the interview in full above.