It may be a striking contrast for Helen Mirren to go from playing the Queen of England to Leo Tolstoy’s wife to a tough-talking brothel boss in her most recent film, “Love Ranch,” but the actress insists there is a link between them.


“The interest in a character is always in their vulnerability — but I don’t like playing doormats,” Mirren says while sipping tea at the Regency Hotel. “They’re not interesting to play, for sure …” Mirren waits a beat before finishing the thought. “But I’d do anything for the money,” she laughs. “When push comes to shove.”


There might have been another considerable lure in playing Grace Bontempo, the long-suffering wife of cheating Charlie (Joe Pesci), who eventually takes up with a hot-blooded boxer several years her junior (steamy Sergio Peris-Mencheta). Mirren’s husband, Taylor Hackford (“Ray,” “An Officer and a Gentleman”), directed the film, which chronicles the Bontempos’ operation of one of the first legal brothels in Nevada. “Love Ranch” marks only the second time the couple has worked together; they first met on the set of the 1985 film “White Nights.” And while Mirren says she wouldn’t be opposed to another collaboration, she admits the arrangement this time around had her playing a second role during filming:?doting wife.


“I’d get worried about him because he was just working so hard,”?she says. “I would say, ‘Sit down darling, let me get you a cup of tea. Have you taken your vitamin pills?’”