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Oscars 2017
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Q&A: Helen Mirren

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You play a Frenchwoman in The Hundred-Foot Journey. Had you played one before?
Helen Mirren I’d always secretly wanted to. We English have an incredible inferiority complex where the French are concerned. Frenchwomen seem so elegant and together. They’re so intimidating.

Did you pick up any style notes?
I had a wonderful stylist who somehow transformed my scruffy English chaos into fine French form. Although I looked so French, it wasn’t quite my style, because I could never hold that look together. It requires all your clothes to be constantly steamed and pressed.

I don’t buy something if I think it’ll need to be ironed.
I’m the same. Nothing can survive my life if it has to be ironed or washed with care.

You play a chef. What’s your kitchen specialty?
Soup. I don’t know how I learned — probably from necessity from my days as a rogue and vagabond actor. It’s comparatively cheap, and of course it’s good for you if you use fresh ingredients.

Would you rather eat an amazing bowl of soup or watch an amazing movie?
I insist on doing both at the same time. That’s my idea of heaven.

Last summer you were firing guns in Red 2. What type of film suits your personality more: action or drama?
Well, I’m cracking eggs with the same ferocity, I hope, as I fired guns. [Laughs] I don’t really approve of guns, but I love the excitement and visceral experience of doing an action movie. It’s fun. And, you know, cooking is a kind of action.