Helen Mirren: ‘You have two options in life: Die young or get old’


Did you know Dame Helen Mirren is a Grammy away from being an EGOT? Somebody needs to see about getting her an album. Dame Helen has a new movie coming out, Collateral Beauty. The movie is being sold as an ensemble with Will Smith at the front as a man who writes to the various life forces – death, time, love – as he struggles with his daughter’s cancer. Then the descriptions get muddled because nobody wants to give anything away but I think all the other actors, like Helen, show up as those forces. Helen appears to be Death. It looks like a tear-jerker but the cast is good so I hope it’s not too clichéd (although it looks like it is). It comes out December 16th and Helen is making the promotional rounds for it. She gave a two-day interview to the Editor in Chief of AARP Magazine, Bob Love. Being as it is AARP Magazine and she is a dynamic septuagenarian playing Death in a movie, the subject of age was bound to come up.

Helen Mirren has been in the spotlight for nearly five decades – and that’s exactly how she wants it.

Although the 71-year-old actress admits the thought of aging once made her cringe, she now realizes it’s much better than the alternative.

“The best thing about being over 70 is being over 70,” Mirren says in an interview with AARP The Magazine for its December/January Issue. “Certainly when I was 45, the idea of being 70 was like ‘Arghhh!’ but you only have two options in life: Die young or get old. There is nothing else. The idea of dying young when you’re 25 is kind of cool – a bit romantic, like James Dean. But then you realize that life is too much fun to do that.”

Besides, the Oscar winner has repeatedly proven that young ones don’t have all the fun. Mirren didn’t meet the love of her life, director Taylor Hackford, until she was 38. The couple didn’t marry until she was 52 and have been together for nearly 20 years.

The actress admits she put her acting career ahead of her love life before meeting Hackford, and getting married wasn’t a huge priority.

“We got married in the end because we realized that we were going to be together forever,” she says. “We got married, ultimately, for legal reasons more than anything else. Estate planning and other complicated things like that. And our families, we sensed, wanted us to be married.” She continued, “I always said I have nothing against marriage, it just wasn’t to my taste, like turnips. It took me a very long time to come round to acquiring the taste. I just had to meet the right turnip.”

[From People]

The interview is fun, if not disjointed, which is why I used the People article instead. You can read the full piece here. The interviewer can’t quite figure out what he should do with Helen so he attempts to do everything. But *warning* – at the end of the interview, Love said they unleashed a pack of puppies on Helen and she was thrilled but I can find no photos of that. Who releases puppies on Dame Helen without a photo? The print edition better have those.

Obviously I am a fan of Helen’s. I appreciate her answer about age, although she must get very tired of being asked about it. How dare she age powerfully – let’s condemn her to forever talk about the fact that she’s still vibrant… and old. Her thoughts on marriage are probably my favorite. Not just that she doesn’t care what your timeline for her was but that she used turnips as her analogy – the unsexiest of vegetables (no offense to turnips). She loves her husband but she’s not romantic about marriage, she’s only interested in their partnership. One thing about Helen, she will always answer you honestly whether it’s the answer you want or not. Interview Questions = 5, F–ks Given by Dame Helen = 0.

I apologize to those of you waiting, I’m still working on – but don’t as yet have – an ID on Helen’s silver skirt from yesterday.

Here’s the trailer for Collateral Beuaty:



Photo credit: Miller Mobley/AARP Magazine

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30 Responses to “Helen Mirren: ‘You have two options in life: Die young or get old’”

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  1. QQ says:

    She looks SO BOMB! her Joan Collins and BaddieWinkle are my “when I grow up” goals

    • detritus says:

      Motocycle Grandma from the Garfield comics was my original grow up goal. Badass, and always with a delish pie.

      I want her outfits from the last two photos and the lip/nail colour right now though, no growing up necessary.

    • Shambles says:

      BaddieWinkle is a fox!!! I love her so much.

  2. OTHER RENEE says:

    The next time I am tempted to whine about being in my 50s, I’ll remember that quote. And her rockin’ photos. Then I’ll shut up and be grateful.

  3. arock says:

    get it, Helen. There is a grammy for best spoken word, id love to hear her read a biography or a classical work.

    • Brittney Buckley says:

      That’s what I was thinking! I feel like I’ve listened to audiobooks by Helen; her voice is made for hours of listening. Give her something compelling (or dry as hell, honestly) and the Grammy is hers.

  4. bluhare says:

    Helen proves that “hot senior citizen” is not an oxymoron.

  5. LinaLamont says:

    “There’s no point in being unhappy about growing older. Just think of the millions who have been denied the privilege.”
    -Cary Grant

  6. pinetree13 says:

    I’m only in my mid-thirties but I am struggling with this big time. People always say “It’s better than the alternative!” and while I whole-heartedly agree, if I’m honest, it doesn’t actually comfort me at all.
    I love my grandparents but so many little things cause them pain. Little pains just adding up over time to big pains. Seniors walk slowly because moving quickly can cause pain and they can become injured so much easier and heal so much slower. I do fear the pain that old age brings. As well, over time, all old people start to look the same, and I’m sure there’s some freedom in that. But I find it difficult to accept…that we’ll slowly become so etched from time as to be unrecognizable (if we are lucky enough to get to those very old ages of course).

    I wish I believed in an after-life. Then I wouldn’t fear aging/death as much. I’ve tried very hard but you just cannot force yourself to believe in something. Deep down, no matter what I read, I feel that’s there’s nothing.

    Whelp, sorry to be a ray of sunshine this morning! LOL my goodness.

    • LinaLamont says:

      I don’t think you accept or feel it until you’re at that age. I think it’s a recognition and, to some degree, a resignation. I think, until then, it’s a platitude (in a younger person’s mind/experience). Mirren’s 70…I think Grant wasn’t young when he said that. I’m not old enough not to dislike getting old (can’t reconcile the outside with the inside), but, I’m older than mid-thirties…mid-thirties is a great age.
      Those who don’t accept aging in a healthy way (Madonna) are sad.

    • me says:

      You are still so very young. What are you worried about? I think as you get older, you just learn to accept it. You are still far from being “old” so don’t waste time worrying and enjoy your young age now ! Also, just as a side note, there are many young people with health problems who deal with pain on a daily basis…it’s not just old people who have to deal with that. There are also a lot of old people who are super healthy and doing great !

      • pinetree13 says:

        That’s true, as I do have younger relatives with difficult, chronic diseases who cannot even work as a result. In fact, I feel quite guilty about it. And while I am grateful, I cannot help but dread the inevitable. I am a worrier by nature and cannot turn it off. I think my brain is over-active.

    • Sixer says:

      I don’t believe in an afterlife either. And I can’t say that I’m much looking forward to the death thing. But I gotsta say, a bit of arthritis and going careful in case I fall over and break a hip seems like a small price to pay for still being alive.

      Old people don’t just walk funny and put young people off, you know. They are repositories of everything life has to offer. Quite often they don’t GAF and are funnier than everyone else because of that. Anything troubling you? They’ve likely been through it and come out the other side, so they are a constant, living testament to human resilience.

      Old people are brilliant and more often an example of why getting old isn’t so bad rather than why it is an awful prospect.

      You’re looking at it all the wrong way, my lovely!

      • pinetree13 says:

        Very true Sixer. Everything you said. And I do respect and love my grandparents very much. They aren’t exactly a comfort since my Grandpa tells me all the time, “There’s nothing good about getting old!” hahaha. Watching each small, intricate bodily system slowly break down. It’s very scary. Although, the unknown always is, isn’t it?

        “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

        So easy to say, so hard to do. SO hard to live in the present.

        I hope becoming a cyborg is an option for us. 😉

    • LinaLamont says:

      I do think, though, that one AWFUL thing about being old, is the way many people patronize the elderly. I despise when older people are referred to as cute, talked to as if they’re children (I don’t talk to kids like that), condescended to in any way.

    • bogos says:

      That’s why many people partake of various chemical substances and certain foods and other thrills to keep up certain illusions about human life and keep going. Otherwise, the truth becomes too overwhelming and brings about disillusionment and bitterness that become inertia. Although some people’s avoidance of reality really makes them so impenetrably repellent.

      • pinetree13 says:

        I read an article once that people with depression (I don’t have depression, despite how I may sound in these downer posts of mine) actually view the world more accurately than the rest of us and are actually better at tests that test for objectivity and things like that.

        I agree that enjoying the little things in life are essential. Enjoying a good meal, beautiful sights, things like that. But in a way, it’s a beautiful sadness knowing no matter how much you appreciate it all, you will not be permitted to enjoy it forever. You could argue it makes you appreciate things more I suppose.

      • LinaLamont says:

        “I read an article once that people with depression (I don’t have depression, despite how I may sound in these downer posts of mine) actually view the world more accurately than the rest of us and are actually better at tests that test for objectivity and things like that.”
        Depressive Realism effect is minimal, at best. Also, in the context of life, the opposite is, often, true.

  7. ravensdaughter says:

    She is my absolute growing older hero. I think her humor and lust for life (plus a productive career and happy marriage) keep her young.

  8. BonnieJean says:

    Helen can do no wrong in my book.

  9. Jayna says:

    I once found an old article about an interview with Helen at the height of her fame and younger Liam Neeson in the house and a tiff going on. It was obvious their relationship was a passionate love affair back in the day. And I love the story she told not long ago of them taking off from London in her tiny car to go camping in the country for a weekend, and with Liam being so tall, he had to stick his head out the window for the entire drive.

  10. joannie says:

    Shes obviously had a bit of work done and looks fabulous!

  11. SwanLake says:

    Love Helen!

  12. Miss M says:

    How did I miss this post?! She looks fabulous!

  13. alexc says:

    She is one sexy, badass lady – then, now and forever. I think it’s her confidence that makes her so attractive. Watch a few old Prime Suspect episodes if you want to some amazing acting chops and great writing. She was never afraid to be unattractive, vulnerable or ‘nasty.’ Love her.

  14. Amelie says:

    “I always said I have nothing against marriage, it just wasn’t to my taste, like turnips. It took me a very long time to come round to acquiring the taste. I just had to meet the right turnip.”

    I love this quote!

  15. Leigh_S says: