On Wednesday, host Stephen Colbert asked the actors to reenact the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that’s been at the center of the current impeachment inquiry.
“I’ll be the judge of whether you’re innocent or guilty after you read the line,” Colbert told them. “The scene is, you’re on the phone with the Ukrainian president, his country has been invaded by the Russians, you’ve got the military aid he needs, but you’re not going to give it to him unless you get the pro quo back. This is what you say after he says, ‘I would like the javelin missiles.'”
Thus, Mirren and McKellen had to deliver the line, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” in casual, happy, and then innocent tones. The two actors were convincing, flipping between soft and flippant voices, but Colbert brought down the hammer.
“Guilty,” he ruled every time while banging a gavel on his desk.
“There’s no way of saying that any other way, except for guiltily, because it’s a guilty phrase,” Mirren responded, to raucous applause from the audience.
“Helen, can you be the president of the United States?” Colbert pleaded.
If only. The English actors are too busy being dames and sirs and starring in a slew of new projects to take up political office. In addition to The Good Liar, which debuts Nov. 15, Mirren is front and center in the new miniseries Catherine the Great, while McKellen is featured in the buzzy new project Cats (which also stars Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, and more).