Helen Mirren (born Ilyena Lydia Mironova on 26 July 1945) is an English stage, television and movie actress. She is particularly well-known for her roles as the female detective Jane Tennison in the Prime Suspect series of television dramas, and as the stern Soviet spaceship commander in the 1984 science fiction film 2010: Odyssey Two, based on the novel by Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Mirren was born in England to a Russian-noble father and an English mother who had Gypsy ancestry; her paternal grandfather, a Russian diplomat, was negotiating an arms deal in England and was stranded there, along with his family, after the Russian Revolution. Following appearances on stage during her school years at St Bernard's School for Girls in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, her first starring role was in 1965 as Cleopatra for the National Youth Theatre. This led to her joining the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Cressida in Troilus and Cressida, and Lady Macbeth in the production by Trevor Nunn.
In 1972 she joined Peter Brook's International Centre for Theatre Research, and joined the group's tour across North Africa which created The Conference of the Birds. The "sexy" image she acquired in her youth has - in the opinion of some - been little affected by encroaching old age; she did nothing to detract from it by appearing nude on the cover of the Radio Times for her fiftieth birthday.
She married American film director Taylor Hackford, her domestic partner since 1986, on his 53rd birthday on 31 December 1997, in the Scottish Highlands.
She appeared in Belfast-born director Terry George's film Some Mother's Son, which was about the 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland, opposite Irish actress Fionnuala Flanagan.
She is a two-time Academy Award nominee, for The Madness of King George in 1994 and Gosford Park in 2002. She lost both times. She was invested as a Dame Commander of the British Empire on 5 December 2003.
She also memorably played Elizabeth I in 2005 in a television movie for Channel 4. Recently, she provided the voice for the supercomputer "Deep Thought" in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, released on 29 April 2005.