Helen Mirren says she was compelled to make The Debt, a fact-based Holocaust drama about an ex-Mossad agent forced to confront her past as Nazi hunter.
“This film, it’s my history. I was born after the war but only just, and I was brought up with that very present in my youth. It was only 10 years before, it’s like nothing when I think of it now.”
Born Ilyena Mironov to a Russian father, Mirren wants to recognise what she calls “That profound part of living history. Americans in general have no idea of the suffering in Europe. It’s still very much a part of present, you can feel it.”
Mirren’s currently shooting The Door in Hungary, set in the same war weary milieu.
“I play this Hungarian peasant, a housekeeper, a cleaner. It’s a kind of history of Hungary, a history of the suffering of the Hungarian people through WWII through Communism and so I think that’s what she symbolises. It’s quite heavy and quite surreal and quite Hungarian.”
On a lighter note, Mirren addresses her recent upsurge in popularity and film roles and that sex symbol vibe.
“I guess it’s a good thing,” she laughs. “But all things pass. We can’t get wedded to anything, and I hope the public doesn’t get wedded to it either because then they get really cross with you when it’s not the case anymore, somehow it’s your fault you know? And I expect that to happen any minute, they’ll say, 'She used to be sexy. What happened? How could she have done this to us?'"